Make an asthma action plan

March 2, 2017

Asthma has a variety of symptoms: coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath. But there's one thing it shouldn't make you feel: powerless. In fact, there's a lot you can do to keep asthma symptoms from flaring up in the first place. Your doctor can show you how.

Find your triggers

Your physician can work with you to develop a plan that will help keep your asthma under control so you can live a healthy, active life.

The first step is to identify your asthma triggers. These are irritants and allergens that cause your asthma symptoms. Triggers vary from person to person but may include dust, animal dander, tobacco smoke, mold, pollen, polluted air and chemicals from products such as hair spray.

Your doctor can give you advice on how to reduce your exposure to triggers.

iStock-157645275.jpgKeep symptoms in check

The next step is to faithfully take the medicines that help prevent and control your asthma symptoms. Most people with asthma use both long-term and fast-relief medicines.

Long-term medicines help keep the airways open and can prevent asthma symptoms from flaring up. They come in both inhaled and pill form and should be used daily as advised by your doctor.

Fast-relief medicines can help control asthma symptoms when they occur. You should carry a quick-relief inhaler throughout the day and use it as directed.

Your doctor also may recommend using a peak flow meter. When you blow into the device, it displays a number that shows how well your lungs are working. Your doctor will help you determine your personal best peak flow number. When your peak flow meter shows this number, your asthma is under control.

Prepare for emergencies

You'll also need to know what to do if you have a serious asthma attack. You should call your doctor if:

  • Your medicines don't provide relief.
  • Your peak flow number is less than half of your personal best.

And you should call 911 if:

  • You have trouble walking or talking because you're out of breath.
  • Your lips or fingernails are blue.

Your doctor can give you further advice on what to do in an asthma emergency.

Check with the experts

See your doctor regularly to make sure your asthma plan is working well. These visits are also a good time for you to voice any questions or concerns about your asthma treatment.

Call your doctor if you'd like to learn more about keeping asthma under control.

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