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Take an active role in your asthma control

Work with your doctor to create an asthma treatment plan that will keep you symptom-free.

Learning you have asthma can be overwhelming.

It can be discouraging to know that simple, everyday things like exercising, playing with a pet or even a weather change might bring on asthma symptoms.

But don't lose hope. You can control your asthma by working with your doctor and getting actively involved with your treatment.

How to control asthma

Start by creating a treatment plan with your doctor. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the plan should cover how to control your environment to avoid things that can trigger an attack, the medications you need, how to use those medications and a plan to monitor your condition.

A successful plan will:

  • End the coughing, wheezing and breathlessness caused by asthma, especially at night and in the morning.
  • Allow you to participate in normal activities, including exercise.
  • Keep you out of the hospital and emergency room.
  • Help you avoid side effects from medications.

Asthma triggers

One of the best ways to accomplish the goals of your asthma treatment plan is to figure out what things trigger your asthma and then avoid or control them.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, common asthma triggers include:

Pets. Control pet allergens by keeping animals out of the home (or at least out of your bedroom). If possible, choose pets without fur or feathers, such as turtles or fish.

Pollen. Avoid pollen by staying indoors with the air conditioner on when pollen counts are high. For pollen counts in your area, visit the National Allergy Bureau website at www.aaaai.org/nab.

Dust mites. Avoid dust mites by washing sheets, blankets and pillows weekly in hot water. Consider using dust-proof mattress and pillow covers.

Other things such as air pollution, tobacco smoke, perfumes and even acid reflux also can irritate your airways and cause an attack. Your doctor may have you see an asthma specialist to help identify what triggers your symptoms.

Take your medicine

There are two general types of asthma medications: quick relief and long-term controllers.

Quick-relief medication is used to treat symptoms only as they occur. Keep this medication close by in case you have a sudden onset of symptoms.

Your doctor may also have you take other medication regularly to help you control asthma over the long term.

Make sure your doctor shows you how to properly take your inhaled medications. Also make sure to follow your doctor's directions for taking the medicines, and to let your doctor know if your medicines don't seem to be helping.

Warning signs

Between doctor visits, monitor your asthma symptoms so you can report any changes. Among other signs, your asthma may be getting worse if:

  • You're having symptoms more often.
  • You need to use your quick-relief medication more often.
  • You're missing school, work or sleep due to asthma.

Get help right away if your rescue medicine doesn't work, your fingernails or lips turn gray or blue, or you have extreme difficulty breathing.

No matter how serious your asthma is, a good treatment plan can help you relax, take a deep breath and enjoy life.

reviewed 8/25/2019

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