Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Although many people with asthma rely on medications to prevent and relieve symptoms, you can do several things on your own to maintain your health and lessen the possibility of asthma attacks.

Avoid your triggers

Taking steps to reduce your exposure to things that trigger asthma symptoms is a key part of asthma control. It may help to:

  • Use your air conditioner. Air conditioning reduces the amount of airborne pollen from trees, grasses and weeds that finds its way indoors. Air conditioning also lowers indoor humidity and can reduce your exposure to dust mites. If you don't have air conditioning, try to keep your windows closed during pollen season.
  • Decontaminate your decor. Minimize dust that may worsen nighttime symptoms by replacing certain items in your bedroom. For example, encase pillows, mattresses and box springs in dustproof covers. Remove carpeting and install hardwood or linoleum flooring. Use washable curtains and blinds.
  • Maintain optimal humidity. If you live in a damp climate, talk to your doctor about using a dehumidifier.
  • Prevent mold spores. Clean damp areas in the bath, kitchen and around the house to keep mold spores from developing. Get rid of moldy leaves or damp firewood in the yard.
  • Reduce pet dander. If you're allergic to dander, avoid pets with fur or feathers. Having pets regularly bathed or groomed also may reduce the amount of dander in your surroundings.
  • Clean regularly. Clean your home at least once a week. If you're likely to stir up dust, wear a mask or have someone else do the cleaning.
  • Cover your nose and mouth if it's cold out. If your asthma is worsened by cold or dry air, wearing a face mask can help.

Stay healthy

Taking care of yourself and treating other conditions linked to asthma will help keep your symptoms under control. For example:

  • Get regular exercise. Having asthma doesn't mean you have to be less active. Treatment can prevent asthma attacks and control symptoms during activity. Regular exercise can strengthen your heart and lungs, which helps relieve asthma symptoms. If you exercise in cold temperatures, wear a face mask to warm the air you breathe.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can worsen asthma symptoms, and it puts you at higher risk of other health problems.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may increase lung function and reduce asthma symptoms. These foods are rich in protective nutrients (antioxidants) that boost the immune system.
  • Control heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It's possible that the acid reflux that causes heartburn may damage lung airways and worsen asthma symptoms. If you have frequent or constant heartburn, talk to your doctor about treatment options. You may need treatment for GERD before your asthma symptoms improve.
Feb. 13, 2014