TMH Living Well: Control triggers, control asthma | CraigDailyPress.com

TMH Living Well: Control triggers, control asthma

The Memorial Hospital

Editor's note: This story is the first in series of articles on respiratory therapy.

Did you know that the way you clean your house or treat your pets can affect your asthma? If you or a family member has been diagnosed with asthma, changing some of your everyday habits to limit triggers might be key to better breathing.

Signs of Asthma

• Shortness of breath

• Repetitive coughing, especially in children

• Wheezing

• Rapid breathing

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• Chest pain

• Difficulty talking

• Pale, clammy feeling

If you consistently have one or more of these symptoms, contact your doctor. TMH provides pulmonary function testing and asthma education. Call respiratory therapy at 970-826-3150 for more information or visit http://www.thememorialho…

"Triggers, like pet dander or dust, can cause asthma attacks. An important way to control asthma is controlling these triggers. Making small changes at home, like not letting pets sleep on your bed, washing bedding regularly, vacuuming without the asthmatic in the room, avoiding perfumes and not using harsh cleaning agents can make a big difference," said Anessa Kopsa, RRT, CPFT, AE-C, respiratory therapist with The Memorial Hospital.

Every person with asthma has their own set of triggers that sets off their asthma. It might be dust, pet dander, smoke, air pollution and allergens like weeds, trees and grasses.

"The best way to control asthma is knowing your triggers and actively avoiding them — as well as using prescribed medicine regularly, even if you start feeling better, keep taking it as scheduled," Kopsa advised.

Kopsa provides asthma education one-on-one to patients with asthma at TMH. If your doctor has diagnosed you or a family member with asthma, ask for a referral for education training and an exploration into your specific triggers.

"When people take care of themselves and are in charge of their asthma, they are much better able to control it. When controlled, people can live a normal life with asthma," Kopsa said.

She should know, as she was diagnosed with asthma at age 5: "I was a very active kid who played volleyball and swam throughout school. There are even Olympic athletes who have asthma."

In her education sessions, Kopsa teaches patients about asthma and what happens during an attack, and most importantly, how to control it through lifestyle habits and medicine. There are two types of asthma medication, control medicines (inhaled steroids) and rescue medicines (bronchodilators). Inhaled steroids are deemed safe and do not have the negative effects associated with other steroids.

"The goal is to only use rescue medicines occasionally. If you are using your rescue medicine more than four times a week, you likely need an inhaled steroid and/or a long-acting bronchodilator," she stated.

Asthma can show up at any age, and at any stage of life. Kopsa is seeing more and more elderly people with the disease. Asthma can even be caused by acid reflux or nasal mucus that drains down into the lungs while sleeping. If a parent has asthma, a child has a 50 percent chance of having asthma, as well.

"People complain that medicines are expensive, but an ER visit for an asthma attack is even more expensive," Kopsa says.

Most medicines are covered by private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare and CHP+. Kopsa believes the physicians at TMH are good at figuring out which medicines are most affordable and effective for individual patients, helping to keep costs down as much as possible.

Besides asthma education, TMH also offers pulmonary function tests to diagnose asthma and other lung and breathing disorders. For more information, call respiratory therapy at 970-826-3150.

This weekly article with tips on living well is sponsored by The Memorial Hospital at Craig — improving the quality of life for the communities we serve through patient-centered healthcare and service excellence.

Signs of Asthma

• Shortness of breath

• Repetitive coughing, especially in children

• Wheezing

• Rapid breathing

• Chest pain

• Difficulty talking

• Pale, clammy feeling

If you consistently have one or more of these symptoms, contact your doctor. TMH provides pulmonary function testing and asthma education. Call respiratory therapy at 970-826-3150 for more information or visit http://www.thememorialho…