Updated Fall, 2007 – Don’t let asthma put a hurtin’ on you. If you’ve got it, you need a plan or a strategy to prevent the symptoms.
You can develop a management plan with your doctor to help control your asthma, instead of letting the disease control you.
Here are five elements any good plan should have:
- Identify/avoid asthma triggers: Avoiding mold, pet hair, smog or whatever triggers your asthma can help reduce the need for medication, experts at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America say. When you have an asthma episode, think about where you were and what you were doing in the past day or so. Write them down in a diary to help better identify your triggers.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Do you live in an Asthma Capital? The foundation has identified “the most challenging places to live with asthma” in a report that can be found at the asthmacapitals.com Web site. (See the "See Also" section for a link). If you live in one of the asthma capitals, discuss with your physician specific things you can do related to where you live and/or work to avoid asthma attacks.
- Take your medicine as prescribed. Asthma medicines are usually inhaled through a machine called a nebulizer, through an inhaler or puffer, or through a dry powder inhaler (DPI). For inhalers to work well, you must use them correctly. But over 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, you have two choices: Ask them to recommend 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), or, ask about a “breath-actuated” inhaler, which automatically releases medicine when you inhale.
- Recognize the early signs of trouble. Asthma episodes almost never occur without warning. Some people feel early symptoms, including coughing, chest tightness, feeling very tired. But 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 that an attack is coming.
- Know what to do when your asthma strikes. If you have an asthma management plan and follow it, you will know exactly what to do in case of an asthma episode or an emergency. If you don’t understand the plan, or don’t have one that works for you, talk to your physician or asthma specialist to work out a plan you can follow.
If you are caring for someone with asthma or trying to get your own under control, Healthology offers some tools.