As someone living with asthma, you likely already take extra precautions to prevent flare-ups. This may include avoiding triggers and taking your medications as directed. Severe asthma can take a greater toll on your daily activities, with chronic symptoms interfering with your routine.
These symptoms include:
- shortness of breath
- chest tightness
Severe asthma may put you at a greater risk of experiencing an asthma attack. Asthma attacks can make it hard to breathe, and may even require emergency medical attention.
If you live alone, you may be stressed about the possibility of an asthma attack with little assistance at your disposal.
Taking extra precautions can go a long way in managing your severe asthma. You can experience fewer flare-ups and achieve an overall better quality of life.
One of the best ways to prevent severe asthma attacks is to avoid your triggers as much as possible.
Among the possibilities include:
- tree, grass, and ragweed pollen (seasonal allergies)
- animal dander
- dust mites
- perfumes and other strong odors
- air pollution
- cigarette smoke
- cold, dry weather
- cold and flu viruses
Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid all of the above triggers. But what you can do is keep your home and personal workspace clean.
Wash your hands frequently to prevent getting sick. Also, avoid the outdoors during peak pollen, mold, and air pollution counts. You can check the weather in your area for these alerts.
Sometimes, severe asthma can be unpredictable. You don’t want to be left off guard when a flare-up develops.
It’s important to have an emergency kit on hand in case of an asthma attack. These items should include any quick-relief medications, such as a rescue inhaler and spacers, as well as other medications recommended by your doctor.
It’s also not uncommon for severe asthma to worsen during seasons of cold or dry weather. When you get sick, the last thing you’ll want to do is go out and pick up supplies from the drugstore. Keep items such as soups, cough drops, tissues, and tea at home at all times.
When you’re living alone, it’s important to maintain contact with your loved ones on a regular basis. This can help them know when to contact you if they suspect you may not be feeling well.
At the same time, don’t hesitate to let your friends and loved ones know that you’re having a flare-up. Keeping them up to date on your condition will benefit you in both the short-term and the long-term. If any complications arise and you need help, you can let them know.
It’s also important to accept help when family and friends offer. Even seemingly small gestures, such as picking up supplies, walking your dog, or giving you rides to your medical appointments can add up.
The less energy you have to spend on errands, the more you can focus on getting through your asthma flare-up.
In the case of an asthma emergency, you don’t want to find yourself trying to search for your doctor’s number online or buried in your smartphone. Keep important medical numbers on speed dial, as well as a list in a prominent area of your house, such as your refrigerator door.
Aside from your primary doctor, it’s also important to have phone numbers on hand for the following medical professionals and facilities:
- your allergist or pulmonologist
- urgent care facilities in your area
- the emergency room
- your pharmacist
- virtual doctors recommended by your primary care doctor, as needed
Generally, your asthma is “well-controlled” if you experience symptoms 2 days a week or less, and if you use quick-relief medications for the same frequency.
Keeping an asthma journal can be helpful for tracking how well you’re doing. You can write down your symptoms, medication frequency, and the overall impact on your daily activities.
Chronic symptoms that require a rescue inhaler multiple times per week need additional evaluation by your doctor. They may recommend another type of long-term controller medication. Another option is a higher-dose inhaled steroid, which may be taken on a short-term basis.
You may also want to talk to your doctor about different types of asthma. It’s possible you may have eosinophilic or allergic asthma, which often is more severe. Your doctor can make these diagnoses with blood and allergy tests.
Specific treatments called biologics can help treat these forms of asthma. Talk to your doctor about these treatments so you can manage your asthma and prevent future flare-ups when you’re home alone.
If traditional pharmacological treatments aren’t doing enough to manage your symptoms, consider talking to your doctor about bronchial thermoplasty. This is an outpatient procedure that works by using radiofrequency waves delivered via catheter to open up your airway muscles. However, bronchial thermoplasty is only used in severe asthma that can’t otherwise be managed with high-dose medications.
While asthma is a lifelong condition, severe asthma poses the most concerns because of the higher risk of flare-ups and attacks. Some forms of severe asthma may also be considered treatment-resistant.
No matter what your living situation is, it’s important to take as many preventive measures against flare-ups as possible. Arm yourself with the tools and supplies you need at home, and talk to your doctor if these items aren’t doing enough to provide long-term relief.