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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

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways, commonly associated with recurrent episodes of wheezing, chest tightness, breathlessness and coughing. Symptoms of asthma can be triggered by a number of different environmental, dietary and psychological factors, and can often leave asthmatic’s feeling inadequate, unfit or sickly. Because asthma can vary in severity from person to person, and can change seasonally, it is often difficult to know how to help an asthmatic to feel comfortable in their own home.

Here are a number of things to consider when living or spending time with somebody with asthma, which will help them to feel comfortable, respected and happy.

1. They are endangered by smoking

If you’re a smoker, make sure you ask before lighting up a cigarette in the vicinity of an asthma sufferer. They may not complain, but the fact of the matter is that you are not only damaging their health with second hand smoke, but you may be making it very difficult for them to breathe, or even trigger the onset of an asthma attack. So before lighting up, ask them if they’d prefer that you smoke elsewhere. Even if they only suffer mildly from asthma, ensure you are not blowing smoke directly at them, and that the area is well ventilated, this will help to minimize any health risks.

2. They can get worse because of dust

If you live with somebody who suffers from asthma, dust can be a major risk factor and can impact their breathing significantly. Luckily, it is relatively easy to keep dust from accumulating. Ensure that the house is kept well ventilated; opening a few windows for a while each day will help fresh air to circulate. Vacuuming, sweeping, dusting and mopping regularly is essential to prevent the buildup of dust on floors and surfaces.

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3. They can react badly to pets

Often the fur from pets can exacerbate the symptoms of asthma. This is something to keep in mind before buying a pet when you live with an asthma sufferer. If you already have a pet, try to keep your pet well-groomed, and try to keep their fur off beds, sofas and any other furniture that may be used by the asthmatic.

4. They are sensitive to mold

Mold spores can irritate and inflame the airways of anybody, but mold can present enormous difficulties for an asthma sufferer. Keeping mold in check is essential to ensure the health and comfort of an asthma sufferer, so ensure your house is well ventilated and dry. Using anti-mold and mildew sprays can help to tackle mold, but ensure they are not likely to affect asthmatics, or use them only when they are not within the vicinity of the spray.

5. They may have to stay away from pollen from plants

Around 80% of asthmatics also suffer from a pollen allergy. This is something to bear in mind if you are a fan of keeping plants and flowers in your house and garden. Summer can often be a difficult time for asthma sufferers, as the pollen count tends to be higher, and this can exacerbate their symptoms. If you are living with an asthmatic, it is worth visiting your GP for a skin prick test or a blood test, to find out if they also have a pollen allergy. If they do, it’s a good idea to keep a supply of nasal sprays, antihistamines and eye drops on hand, especially in the summer.

6. They may react badly to perfumes

Some perfumes, deodorants and household sprays can irritate the airways of an asthmatic, making it difficult to breath. This can be particularly problematic when an asthmatic is in the same room as somebody spraying perfume. To ease their problems, it is a good idea to make sure you are not in their vicinity when spraying toiletries or switch to subtle fragrances as opposed to strong ones.

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7. They should stay stress-free

Stress has a physiological effect on the immune system. During times of high stress, our immune systems are weakened, as our brains divert more of our internal resources into immediate survival, as opposed to long term wellbeing. During times of high stress, asthmatics can begin to suffer more acutely from shortness of breath, which inevitably increases their general stress level. Often stressful situations are exacerbated by feelings of isolation, leaving the sufferer feeling overwhelmed, lonely, and unable to cope. If you notice severe or acute symptoms that have come on suddenly, this could be due to stress. Offering to help manage their workload, or simply talking to them, can often provide a tremendous relief and help to abate their symptoms.

8. They can be sensitive to certain medications

It is estimated that between 10-20% of adult asthmatics have an increased sensitivity to Aspirin and other painkillers. This can make treating a cough, cold or headache particularly difficult. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (commonly known as NSAIDS) commonly used to treat pain and fever, such as ibuprofen and naproxen are frequently associated with problems for asthma sufferers.  It is important to always check the label before buying over-the-counter medications. Doctors should be aware of an asthmatic’s condition based on their medical records, and so will take necessary precautions when writing up a prescription, but if any medication appears to be making asthma symptoms worse, immediately consult your doctor.

9. They have a harder time with coughs and colds

Asthmatics frequently suffer from inflamed airways, this means that coughs and colds can be particularly distressing for asthma sufferers. If you live with somebody with asthma, it can be helpful to gently encourage them to adopt a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, this will help to bolster the immune system against coughs and colds, and provide them with the vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy lifestyle. It’s also important to keep a good stock of cough and cold medicines to ease them through any illness, although be cautious of medicines which can have a negative impact on asthma sufferers.

10. They may have to stay away from foods rich in Sulfites

Around 5-10% of Asthma suffers also suffer from an allergy to Sulfites. Sulfites are a common additive in many different foods and drugs, and can occur naturally in a number of vegetables and some fish. The combination of asthma and sulfites can be life-threatening because it can lead to anaphylactic shock, this is when the entire body reacts severely to the allergen, which can cause airways to swell shut, making it difficult to breathe.

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Luckily, there is a test available called a controlled sulfite challenge, which can detect a sulfite allergy. This involves exposing the asthmatic to a small amount of sulfites under close supervision to see if they have a reaction. If you live with an asthmatic who does suffer from a sulfite allergy, always check the labels on foods to ensure that they do not contain sulfites, and always ensure they have an emergency inhaler with them just in case.

11. Their asthma varies in severity from person to person

Always remember that asthma is not a condition which affects everybody in the same way. Some mild asthma sufferers may live active lifestyles, and seem to suffer very little. For others, asthma can severely impact their lives. Do not assume that one person’s needs will be the same as another’s. Respect the limitations and requirements an asthmatic may have, and do not belittle them for this.

12. Their symptoms can change over time

Asthma symptoms do not remain static throughout life. Sometimes symptoms of asthma are barely noticeable, and at other times they can be very debilitating, and very occasionally fatal. The good news however is that symptoms do tend to become less severe with age. It’s also important to remember that although most asthmatics develop asthma before the age of 5, it can also develop in later life. The important thing to remember is that even though symptoms may appear to fade over time, symptoms can return, so it is important to be rather over prepared than under.

13. They often struggle to sleep properly

Asthmatics can often cough, wheeze or feel short of breath when trying to sleep. This can not only make it very hard to sleep, but also mean that sleep is less rejuvenating due to the lower oxygen intake. Not all asthmatics suffer from this, but if they do, it is important for them to speak to a doctor about this so that they can get on a treatment plan. This will not only help them to sleep, but will also help you to sleep without being disturbed by coughing. It is very important that sleeping problems are addressed with asthmatics, as this has been associated with more severe diseases and increased mortality rates.

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14. They need to take regular breaks during exercise

This may seem obvious, but it is all too easy to expect an asthmatic to be able to keep up with others during any kind of strenuous activity. Asthmatics can lead active lifestyles, but it is always important to remember that it will most likely take them longer to recover from exercise or labor, and they may need to take frequent breaks in order to recuperate. This may make an asthmatic feel inadequate, so it is important not to make an issue of this, and to let them proceed at their own pace in any physical activity.

15. Their inhalers are not all the same

There are many different types of inhalers available to treat a number of different types of asthma. It is important to remember that not all inhalers are the same, and they do not all perform the same function. Offering the wrong type of inhaler to an asthmatic can be dangerous and may even exacerbate their symptoms.

Altogether, living and spending time with somebody with asthma is not a burdensome task. With a few small changes and some consideration, you can help to keep them happy and healthy. Often asthmatics can feel ashamed of their condition, so it’s important not to draw too much attention to the provisions in place for them, whilst at the same time cultivating an environment of openness, so that if they do seem to be suffering, they know that they can talk to you about it.

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JC Axe

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Last Updated on November 12, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
  • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
  • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
  • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
  • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

    The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

    Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

    Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

    If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

    It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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    4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

    Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

    1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
    2. Exercising regularly
    3. Using stressbusters
    4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

    After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

    I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

    Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

    • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
    • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
    • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
    • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

    The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

    Living Healthy

    Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

    In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

    As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

    Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

    1. Unplug

    Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

    Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

    2. Unwind

    Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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    3. Get Comfortable

    Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

    Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

    Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

    This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

    Exercise

    Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

    That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

    I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

    If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

    Attitude

    Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

    When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

    But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

    Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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    1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
    2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
    3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
    4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
    5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
    6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

    This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

    When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

    Nutrition

    Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

    If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

    Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

    Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

    1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
    2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
    3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
    4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
    5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
    6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
    7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
    8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
    9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

    Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

    That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

    Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

    The Bottom Line

    If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

    If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

    Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

    More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

    Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
    [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
    [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
    [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
    [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
    [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
    [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
    [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
    [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
    [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
    [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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