Living Well with Asthma

Controlling asthma is like tackling any challenge: You need a strategy.

If you have asthma, you know it’s a chronic condition that requires ongoing management. And though it may feel like a difficult chore, successful asthma control can be achieved if you keep three things in mind: physician support, environmental awareness and medication use.

Partner with Your Doctor

The most important step in your asthma plan is to work with your doctor. Your doctor can help you understand your asthma symptoms and develop an overall strategy that works for you. If you find it difficult to follow your doctor’s instructions or are reluctant to take a prescription medicine because of side effects, be sure to tell them.

To make the most of your time with your doctor during appointments, consider keeping a health diary or logbook and bringing it to your appointments. In it, record your symptoms, the medications you use, the amount of medication you use, your peak-flow readings and any changes in your condition.

Know Your Environment

Some asthma attacks can be prevented by avoiding the environmental irritants that trigger your symptoms. Common causes include tobacco smoke, pollen, animal dander and dust mites. Changes in weather, strong odors and fumes can also aggravate your asthma, says the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Determine which allergens or irritants set off your asthma and plan ways to avoid or anticipate them. For example, check the pollen count in your area. Use an allergy-relief mattress cover and pillowcases. Avoid exercising in cold air.

Be Med-Wise

In addition to knowing and avoiding your triggers, work with your doctor to develop a strategy for taking long-term control as well as quick-relief medications. In general, many people with asthma use a combination of both. Long-term control medications include inhaled corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers and methylxanthines. This type of therapy is taken every day and helps manage airway inflammation in persistent asthma. Quick-relief therapy options include bronchodilators and corticosteroids. These medications provide short-term relief for asthma attacks. According to the AAAAI, medication therapy should be flexible and based on changes in symptoms, which should be assessed thoroughly each time you see your doctor. Treatment can be adjusted according to your needs. Remember: Asthma control is in your hands. Work closely with your doctor, anticipate your triggers and follow your medication therapy plan.

 

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