Breathing is something we all do without thinking about it – unless you’re one of the 26 million Americans living with asthma. When asthma symptoms flare, airways in the lungs narrow and make it difficult to breathe at all, much less easily.

The good news is asthma can usually be controlled with medications and a few easy lifestyle changes. If you want to breathe without the burden, follow these 5 ways to breathe easier with asthma.

Engage in Breathing Exercises

Asthma sufferers tend to breathe quickly and through the mouth, even when asthma symptoms are not severe. When you breathe deeply through your mouth, you expose your lungs to large amounts of cool, dry air – a known asthma trigger. Over time, this can increase the need for rescue medication and make allergy attacks more frequent.

Luckily, some simple breathing exercises can train you to naturally breathe better. There are several types of breathing exercises that may benefit asthma patients, from diaphragmatic breathing to the papworth method and more.

Learn to De-Stress

As stress levels increase, so do asthma symptoms. Stress is a known trigger for asthma attacks, and it creates a vicious cycle as you stress, then struggle to breathe, then stress over struggling to breathe.

To interrupt the cycle, learn how to decompress from stress. Activities like yoga or meditation are known stress-relievers, and they also encourage the slow, controlled nasal breathing that can help you breathe better.

See an Allergist

Many people with asthma also have allergies, and common allergens like pollen and pet dander can make asthma symptoms worse. If you don’t know your allergy triggers, an allergist can help you determine what to avoid and offer options like immunotherapy for lasting relief.

Keep Your Home Clean

Even if you don’t have serious allergies, exposure to dust mites and mold can irritate your asthma. It’s a good practice to keep your home clear of dust and dirt by cleaning regularly. You should also groom pets frequently, wash bedding and blankets once per week, and keep the windows closed during outdoor allergy season.

Follow a Treatment Plan

Few allergy sufferers can rely on natural methods alone. Medications are crucial to keeping asthma safely controlled, and you should follow the treatment plan developed by your doctor. This may mean taking a daily control medication to prevent attacks as well as carrying a rescue inhaler for fast flare-ups. Your doctor can help you determine which medications are best for you.