asthma and lungs

Don’t Let Asthma Control Your Life

Summertime for many means outdoor fun, such as pools and campfires. But for the 24 million Americans who have asthma, like me, things like chlorine and smoke can trigger dangerous asthma attacks.

I’ve suffered from asthma all my life. I always thought I was managing as best I could. I took the medicine the doctors told me to take. But I found that my asthma really controlled my life.

I always carried an inhaler in my pocket. I made sure it was by my bedside table, in case I woke up in the middle of the night with an asthma episode. Despite all that, I did end up in the emergency room quite a bit. I knew I needed to get my asthma under control. My doctor referred me to a study on managing your asthma and I am not exaggerating when I say it changed my life.

The study, funded through the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, looked at several different ways of helping people with asthma, like myself, to understand and stick with guidelines that will help us manage our condition. One strategy was having community health workers perform home visits. Another was educating health clinic staff so they can be more knowledgeable when people with asthma come in with questions.

Health workers came into my home and observed how I went about my days. They sat me down and gave me a bunch of information, which didn’t seem like much at the time. To be honest, I wasn’t sure it was going to work. But after trying out their information, I could see and feel an improvement in my breathing. It was simple things such as changing the cleaning products I used or how often I washed my sheets. These small changes made a significant difference.

This program really changed my life and the quality of living. I hadn’t been working for a while because my breathing was so bad. When I started doing the things they suggested, the dusting, the cleaning products, I found I could do so much more physically. I was able to get a job working full time.

It’s so important to take control of your health and to be an active participant in your health care. Through taking part in this research, I learned that the doctors and specialists I had been going to weren’t providing me with information I could use to sleep better, breathe better and live better. One thing this has taught me is to be my own advocate. If I don’t fully understand or agree with what my doctor is telling me, I now ask questions.

Eugene Ford

View posts by Eugene Ford
Eugene Ford is an employee of MV Transportation at Microsoft, he has lived with and been treated for asthma for more than 50 years. His doctor referred him to participate in a PCORI-funded study.  

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