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15 Things To Remember If You Love A Person With Asthma

15 Things To Remember If You Love A Person With Asthma

Loving a person isn’t easy. Love is a choice: committing your time, dedication and care to that certain person in your life, understanding and accepting them for who they are and staying by their side as they go through the tides of life. When loving a person with asthma, the situation is more delicate and calls for greater sensitivity towards their feelings and emotional needs.

With severe asthma, your daily life is muddled with incidents of breathlessness; you’re constantly troubled by the possible threat of an asthma attack, coupled with recurring hospital admissions despite heeding medical advice and medication. Every asthmatic episode further increases a person’s psychological suffering, with common feelings including: fear and anxiety, denial and feeling a loss of control.

As someone loving a person with asthma, you can do things to ease their struggle with asthma and to be that pillar of support they can rely on in their time of need. Here are 15 things to remember if you love a person with asthma:

1. They want you to know how to help them during an asthma attack

Defined by the World Health Organization, asthma is a respiratory condition that is present in all age groups, but typically starts in childhood. This condition has the distinctive quality of frequent and repeated attacks of breathlessness and wheezing, which again is specific to every individual. As each asthma case is unique, it’s important to identify the best way to assist your loved one when they are faced with an impending asthma attack, or ongoing series of asthma attacks.

Check their sitting position. Get your loved one into a comfortable sitting position as it is easier to breathe sitting up rather than lying down. This will aid your loved one in having increased and regular air flow into their lungs, assisting them to recover faster.

Be clear about their personalized response to asthma attacks. Be conscious of whether they use an inhaler and if so, where to locate it in the event of an attack. If your loved one has severe asthma, in most situations their medical consultant would have provided a card with instructions.
Where they don’t use an inhaler, record down their emergency contact somewhere convenient for your reference.

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2. They want you to be sensitive

One of the consequences of having asthma is being limited to activities that are not strenuous (this can vary depending on the severity of asthma). Not all people are aware from a young age that they have asthma. For those who are only conscious of it at an older age, this can suddenly create hiccups in their everyday life, especially for those people who are involved in highly strenuous sports or an active lifestyle.

In cases like these, people require some time to adjust and accept their new lifestyle. Be sensitive with them during this road to acceptance, encourage them, and help them to realize that their asthma will not define their life. It is up to them to decide how their life pans out, and with your sensitivity and guidance, it can be a brighter and better future.

3. They want you to be understanding

Be understanding to your loved one. There are limitations to what they can do with their condition and because of their asthma, they might choose to do things in a different way than others would. Remember that your loved one is a different person from you. You cannot expect them to do things that you want to do, or to live their life in the way you would want them to. The beauty of love is that you accept them for the decisions they make. You accept them because you love them and it is no different with someone who has asthma. Make a greater effort to appreciate their style of thinking and accept the range of activities that they can do. Get them what they need, for example an air purifier for asthma. Where possible, don’t pressure them to over-exert themselves as ultimately this will be detrimental for both their health and your relationship.

4. They want you to be aware

Be aware about the frequency and pattern of your loved one’s asthma attacks. Also, learn how to read their warning signs. Ask your loved one about their previous experiences and take note of their usual triggers and the regularity of their attacks so that you will be able to support them and anticipate potential problems.

5. They find it easier to feel comfortable when you are knowledgeable about their condition

Do research and learn more about your loved one’s respiratory condition. By educating yourself about asthma, not only are you more knowledgeable about the illness but you become better equipped at dealing with the illness as well. Go online and read up about natural asthma remedies such as herbs and natural dietary supplements, read about your loved one’s medication and the possible side-effects that may occur. Read up widely on people who are asthmatics and how they have struggled and conquered their battle with asthma so you can learn to offer great support to your loved one. Famous people who have experienced asthma include: Elizabeth Taylor, Jason Alexander, Diane Keaton, and Martin Scorsese.

6. They want you to think about how your illness could impact them

Having asthma means that a person is more susceptible to respiratory illnesses and when they do contract the illness, it can create significant health problems for them. As such, if you are ill with a cold or the flu, even though these appear to be non-serious conditions to the everyday person, they can actually be a life-threatening illness for asthmatics. If your illness could threaten their health, keep away.

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7. They want you to be positive and encouraging

One of the psychological effects of asthma is its detrimental impact on self-esteem. Especially in cases of more severe asthma, these people tend to have negative body image which leads to alienation from close friends. Even where they do have an asthma action plan or their asthma isn’t obvious, it’s not something that they include in their self-introduction or reveal to the people that they have known for a short period of time. The decision to tell their friends about their asthma often requires deep contemplation and they usually wait for a period of time until they are convinced that they can trust that person with their secret.

Most people with asthma are even more doubtful about dating. They’re hesitant because of their fear of being a burden to their significant other, their fear of not being accepted, and their fear of not being good enough for the other person because of their asthmatic condition. If you are in a romantic relationship with a person with asthma, encourage them. Assure them that you accept and love them fully. Show them that you love them and will always be their rock in times of need. Inspire them to look to the future with hope and love. Remember to express yourself not just through words, but your actions too.

8. They want to be kept away from smoke

Smoke is hazardous to everybody, but even more so for asthmatics. Avoid smoking or putting your loved one in situations where they are exposed to second hand smoke. Research has suggested that passive smoking may actually be more harmful than the act of smoking itself. The smoke that is produced at the end of the cigarette is created from far more harmful substances than the chemicals in the smoke inhaled at the front of the cigarette. For asthmatics, second hand smoke can trigger symptoms like wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath which are incredibly painful experiences.

9. They benefit from dust-free surroundings

Where possible, strive to rid your home of asthma triggers. Dust mites, mould, pets, cockroaches and daily household irritants are the main sources of asthmatic triggers. By removing these triggers, you can help to decrease the rate of asthma attacks your loved one experiences, lowering stress levels, pain and suffering.

If you wish to remove dust mites from your house, you have to keep your house clean. Some suggestions include: swapping your pillow and mattress covers to allergen-proof and zippered covers, washing your bedding in hot water at least once a week to kill germs, and to make sure that you keep your house neat and tidy, free from clutter.

To prevent mold and mildew from appearing in your house, some suggestions include: removing any indoor plants, layering your walls with a mold inhibitor when painting, and frequently airing the areas of your house which are usually damp and humid.

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To prevent insects from entering your home, make sure that you close all windows and open garbage shoots, giving them no entrance into your home. Another option is to purchase thin netting that you can layer over your windows so that flies and cockroaches are not be able to enter your home, whilst ensuring you still have ventilation in your home.

You can also buy cockroach traps or baits and put them near the garbage shoots, doors or anywhere else they are likely to enter from. Try to avoid insect sprays as these contain strong chemical products that could be highly detrimental to your loved one’s health. If you do use these sprays, ensure that you use them whilst your loved one is not at home and to air out your home for a few hours before their return.

10. They probably want you to wear less perfume/cologne

To most of us, wearing perfume or cologne is a daily ritual and we don’t really take the time to stop and think of what these strong chemical fragrances can do to our loved ones with asthma. Perfumes and colognes are one of the more common triggers for asthmatics. Perfume and perfumed cosmetic items can contain many toxins, with some medical professionals believing that these chemicals can have disastrous effects on reproduction and the risk of acquiring cancer.

For people with asthma, perfume or fragrance products will irritate their lungs. They may also have an allergic reaction which can lead to dangerous asthma attacks. Thus, when with your loved one, refrain from wearing perfume or using fragrance products as well as visiting locations like beauty or perfume retail shops.

11. They can experience health problems caused by stress

Typically, some stress is beneficial for a person since it encourages greater productivity and pushes a person to develop character. However when coping with asthma, unrestrained or extreme anxiety can exacerbate the respiratory condition. For people with asthma, stress can result in a myriad of problems such as insomnia, irritability, anti-social behavior and depression. Increased stress is also directly proportionate to the level of asthma symptoms like wheezing, coughing and panic attacks. This in turn creates further stress; such a vicious cycle can have devastating effects on your loved one’s health.

To prevent these catastrophic effects, you can help your loved one to combat stress through encouraging them to eat a healthy diet, practice breathing exercises, engage in exercise, get better rest and focus on positive thinking. Motivate your loved one to live a stress-free life.

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12. They can benefit from light exercise

Light exercise benefits people with asthma. Through exercise, their lungs and bronchial tubes will be stretched and expanded, creating larger, clearer airways and reducing the resistance in breathing. Light amounts of running (even barefoot running) can be helpful.

13. They can benefit from a healthy diet

A healthy diet is essential for managing an asthmatic condition. Try to incorporate foods containing higher amounts of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids, for example, as these foods contain antioxidants which prevent cell-damage. Take care to avoid high-calorie diets, figure out your loved one’s food allergies, and take note if your loved one is allergic to preservatives in order to prevent and reduce the frequency of asthma attacks.

14. They don’t want you to make assumptions

Haven’t you heard of the saying, “when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me”? Assumptions about asthma or even about your loved one’s journey with asthma can be risky, inaccurate and hurtful. Don’t make assumptions about how your loved one thinks, how they feel and how they are coping with their situation. Although there are times where our assumptions are right, most of the time, they are incorrect and negative. Show your loved one some courtesy by asking them what they really feel instead of assuming or interpreting their actions or words through blurred vision. Negativity will hurt your relationship and we must strive to eliminate these potential obstacles wherever possible.

15. They want your love

Show love to your loved one. Find out what your loved one’s love language is and how they would prefer you to extend a helping hand or offer support. Make them their favorite foods when they return home from a long hard day, sort out the household chores for them so that they can rest and relax when they return from work, or even introduce them to your friends and important figures in your life so your loved one truly knows that they mean something to you. True, genuine acts of caring are the most important methods for demonstrating your love.

Scientific studies have long proven that loving relationships are beneficial for a person’s health. When in a relationship with someone, the both of you take care of each other and you are each other’s inspiration for living a better life and becoming a better person. Remember these 15 things, but don’t get too caught up in the specifics. As long as you love and are committed to them and your relationship, that’s more than enough.

Featured photo credit: TapGenes via 1yaj3q2k9muz1rlxii3mp8wz.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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