Now that a few dry days are ahead, more of us will happily head out on our bikes and not have to worry about cleaning our chains and wheels afterward! However, we'll be out there just in time for the plants and grasses to open up and release their pollen into the air. For people with asthma, this is our annual battle with nature. In the Willamette Valley, nature always gets the upper hand. If we want to enjoy riding bikes or jogging or just being outdoors, we must have a plan for dealing with the stuff that makes us sick. It's horrible when your asthma keeps you sidelined indoors, while there's all this greenery and beauty to be enjoyed outside.
|Good roads for riding, and green everywhere in the Willamette Valley|
The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program says that about 8% of the U.S. population suffers from asthma. But many more have allergies of one kind or another and there are some clear connections. Asthma, allergies, and eczema often show up in a “combo pack” of sorts. They're all just inflammation of one kind or another, a reaction from an over-sensitivity to something. Like most other folks with allergies and asthma, I am sensitive to certain foods, dust, smoke, pollen, dander, etc. and when I encounter more than my body can tolerate, inflammation happens. I struggle to take a full breath, because inside my lungs, everything is swollen. Makes sense.
Obviously, we need to be avoid the things that trigger inflammation. But that's not as easy as it sounds, otherwise none of us would be struggling to manage our asthma. The problem is that so many triggers fly around in our air all the time. Also, some of us get asthma when we're merely exerting ourselves physically. So it's not always possible to anticipate the triggers beforehand. That's why we really need a good plan. After nearly fifty years of figuring out what does and doesn’t work, sometimes the hard way, I’ve at least figured out that much.
Why is having an asthma plan so important? Because getting in a jam with this stuff can be serious. Even fatal. Looking back at the scary episodes I've had, the common theme in all of them was that I had no plan, and therefore wasn’t prepared for dealing with the problem when it happened.
So, what’s a good asthma plan look like? Well, I'm something of an expert in all the non-examples! But I'm also learning a ton and in the next couple of posts, I'll share what I'm learning about recent developments in the last couple of years. It's important to those of us who love being outside. There's hope!