Asthma attacks are no joke — but it’s hard to know what it’s like to have one unless you have the condition, which occurs when the airways become inflamed and the muscles around the airways tighten, making it hard to breathe. That’s why Teen Vogue editors did the #AsthmaStrawChallenge, where they tried breathing in and out of a straw for 20 seconds. It’s meant to simulate what a person with asthma experiences during an asthma attack.
“It was like breathing underwater, or when you’re swimming and water comes in your face, so you can only catch short breaths or bursts of air,” digital editorial director Phillip Picardi explains after completing the challenge (which you can watch in the video above). Emily Gaynor, digital beauty editor, said she felt like she “was on a run and I was kind of running out of steam.”
Of course, if you have asthma, you know that asthma attacks are no fun to experience. While there is no cure for asthma, there are certain things you can do to help manage the condition, including being aware of potential triggers or allergens (for many people with asthma, allergies are also an issue).
“Pets are great, but if you have asthma, pet dander can be a trigger,” says Dr. Angela Moemeka, MD, the vice president and medical director of community health at Children’s Health. “If this is a trigger for you, make sure pets do not sleep in your bedroom, and keep pets outdoors if possible. Frequent vacuuming and use of a HEPA filter can also help reduce the impact of pet dander in the home.”
Rugs and carpets can also trap asthma triggers, or can themselves be triggers, Dr. Moemeka says. “Avoid having these in bedrooms if you have asthma, and make sure to keep them as clean as possible if you have them in other areas of the house,” she says. Exercise can also be a trigger for asthma, so make sure you talk to your doctor about preventive medicine you can take to keep your asthma in control.