Controlling Your Asthma

Controlling Your Asthma

More than half of all people who use inhalers don’t use them properly.

Rather than letting asthma control your life, you can learn ways to control your asthma!

An asthma management plan is the best way to prevent symptoms and help you control your asthma. An effective plan should allow you to:

• be active without having asthma symptoms

• take part in exercise and sports

• sleep all night, without asthma symptoms

• attend school or work regularly

• have the clearest lungs

• have few or no side effects from asthma medicines

• have fewer or no emergency visits or hospital stays

Four Parts of Your Asthma Management Plan:

Know your triggers and minimize your contact with them. Avoiding your triggers is the best way to reduce your need for medicines and to prevent asthma episodes. To identify your triggers thing about any time you had an asthma episode: where were and what you were doing the past day or so? Answer these questions in your journal or calendar.

• Was I making a bed or vacuuming?

• Was I near an animal? Cigarette smoke?

• Did I have a cold or other infection?

• Was I running, playing or exercising?

• Was I upset, excited or tired?

Discuss your notes with your doctor to look for trends and talk about which ones you can avoid them. For example, if you are allergic to dust mites, you should put an airtight cover around your pillow and mattress. You may also want to talk with your physician about allergy treatments that may help prevent allergy symptoms.

Take your asthma medicines as prescribed. For inhalers to work well, you must use them correctly. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than half of all people who use inhalers don’t use them properly. Ask your doctor or nurse to watch you and check your technique. If it is still difficult to use, they may recommend using a spacer or holding chamber. This device attaches to the inhaler to make it easier to use and to help more medicine reach the lungs. Unless your asthma is very mild, chances are you have prescriptions for at least two different medicines. That can be confusing. The more you understand about what those medicines do and why they help, the more likely you are to use them correctly.

Track your asthma and recognize early signs that it may be getting worse. Asthma episodes almost never occur without warning. Some people feel early symptoms, which include coughing, chest tightness and/or feeling tired. However, because airways to the lungs narrow slowly, you may not feel symptoms until your airways are badly blocked. The key to controlling your asthma is taking your medicine at the earliest possible sign of worsening. Some asthma patients use a peak flow meter, a simple, pocket-sized device that can help detect narrowing in your airways’ hours, or even days, before you feel symptoms. You simply blow into it to monitor your airways. Your peak flow number will help you know:

• which medicine to take

• how much to take

• when to take it

• when to call your doctor

• when to seek emergency care

Know what to do when your asthma is getting worse. If you understand your and follow asthma management plan, you will know exactly what to do in case of an asthma episode or an emergency.

It is possible to live well with asthma if you know how to manage it. Being proactive you can reduce asthma attacks, illness and ER visits. You can live a full, active life.