Ways to help yourself
If you smoke, quitting is the most important change you can make to your lifestyle, both for your asthma and your general health and wellbeing.1,2
Over time, smoking or breathing in other people’s smoke can cause permanent damage to your lungs.3
If you smoke and would like to quit, you can get help from QUIT10. It’s a HSE online resource that can tell you about your local Stop Smoking Service, or can give you online support to fit around your life.
Stopping smoking is the most important change you can make.
A healthy diet can help keep your whole body functioning well and can help boost your immune system to help you fight off colds and flu — common asthma triggers. Plenty of water is also essential to maintain good lung health.
Obesity and asthma
If you are overweight, losing weight could reduce both the pressure on the muscles you use to breathe, and underlying inflammation. This can improve:
- Your asthma symptoms
- Your energy levels
- Your quality of life
Allergies and asthma:
Certain foods may be a trigger for your asthma, whether this is due to an allergy or sensitivity.
Making a note of potential triggers, perhaps in a food diary, and discussing them with your GP or asthma nurse will help you avoid exacerbating your asthma symptoms. They will be able to rule out any other triggers as well.
If you do have an allergy, the best course of action is to avoid this food, as it may trigger a severe reaction.
Fasting and asthma:
If you’re going to fast for any reason, speak to your doctor about possible ways to fit your asthma medication around the restrictions of your fast. Bear in mind that if your liquid consumption is restricted during a fast, this can dehydrate your airways and worsen asthma symptoms.
A healthy diet can keep your lungs healthy.
Regular exercise can help control asthma symptoms by increasing your lung capacity (the amount of air you breathe in). If your symptoms are triggered by stress or low mood, it can help with those too.
Some people with asthma worry about getting short of breath during exercise, but breathlessness is a normal part of exercising.
If you start with less strenuous activities (e.g. walking) for short periods of time, then slowly build up your fitness levels, it can help you recognise what’s normal breathlessness and what’s asthma.
Breathlessness is a normal part of exercising, whether you have asthma or not.
Flu is a common trigger for asthma attacks and can cause more severe symptoms in asthmatics than in people without a respiratory condition.
That’s why some people with asthma are advised to have a flu vaccine every year, around autumn or wintertime.
Flu can cause severe symptoms in people with asthma.
Approval code: RESP-IE-NP-00088
Date of preparation: November 2020
- Live well with asthma. Asthma UK. Available at: https://www.asthma.org.uk/globalassets/health-advice/resources/adults/live-well-with-asthma-booklet.pdf Last accessed: November 2020.
- BTS SIGN. British Guideline on the management of asthma. 2019. Available https://www.brit-thoracic.org.uk/quality-improvement/guidelines/asthma/ Last accessed: November 2020.
- Cigarette smoke. Asthma UK. Available at: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/smoking/. Last accessed: November 2020.
- Food as an asthma trigger. Asthma UK. Available at: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/food/ Last accessed: November 2020.
- Could weight loss help your asthma? Asthma UK. Available at: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/living-with-asthma/weight-loss/?gclid=CNu2hKmc2NECFUUq0wodsXMKdw Last accessed: November 2020.
- Fasting and asthma. Asthma UK. Available at: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/living-with-asthma/fasting/ Last accessed: November 2020.
- Eating well with a lung condition. British Lung Foundation Available at: https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/eating-well/eating-a-healthy-diet Last accessed: November 2020.
- Exercise and activities. Asthma UK. Available at: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/living-with-asthma/exercise-and-activities/ Last accessed: November 2020.
- HSE Asthma in Winter. Available at: https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/hl/living/asthma/livingwithasthma/asthma-in-winter.html. Last accessed: November 2020
- HSE Quit Smoking Website. Available at: https://www2.hse.ie/quit-smoking/ Last accessed: November 2020