Selasa, 13 Januari 2009

Living With Asthma

Living With Asthma

You can control the impact asthma has on your life by following your asthma plans consistently. A management plan can reduce inflammationClick here to see an illustration. to decrease the severity, frequency, and duration of asthma attacks. Following your plans may be difficult due to the many different factors involved.

To help yourself remain consistent in following your asthma plans:

  • Educate yourself about asthma. By doing so, you can learn to control symptoms and reduce the risk of asthma attacks. This questionnaire can help you determine what you already know about asthma and what you may need to discuss with your health professional.
  • Understand your barriers and solutions. What may prevent you from following your plans? These may be physical barriers, such as living far from your health professional or pharmacy, or emotional barriers, such as having undiscussed fears about the condition or unrealistic expectations. Discuss your barriers with your health professional, and work to find solutions.
  • Develop goals that relate to your quality of life. Being able to measure your success gives you greater motivation to follow asthma plans consistently. Decide what you want to be able to do. Have symptom-free nights? Be able to exercise on a regular basis? Feel secure in knowing you can deal with an asthma attack? Work with your health professional to see if your goals are realistic and how to meet them.

Your asthma plans generally consist of the following:

  • Seeing your health professional regularly to monitor your asthma. The frequency of checkups depends on how your asthma is classified. Checkups are recommended about every 6 to 12 months for mild intermittent or mild persistent asthma that has been under control for at least 3 months; every 3 to 6 months for moderate persistent asthma; and every 1 to 2 months for uncontrolled or severe persistent asthma. Bring your asthma plans to appointments.
  • Following your daily asthma treatment plan. This plan helps you control your asthma and describes which medications to take every day. A daily treatment plan also may include an asthma diary where you record your peak expiratory flow, symptoms, triggers, and use of quick-relief medication for asthma attacks. This valuable tool helps you and your health professional manage your asthma. A daily asthma treatment plan is often combined with an asthma action plan.
  • Following your asthma action plan. This contains directions for the management of asthma attacks at home. It helps you better control asthma attacks by being aware of symptoms and knowing how to make quick decisions about medication and treatment. See an example of an asthma action planClick here to view a form. (What is a PDF document?) .

For more information on how to monitor and treat asthma, see:

Click here to view an Actionset.Asthma: Taking charge of your asthma.
Click here to view an Actionset.Asthma: Using an asthma action plan.

To effectively manage your asthma and use your daily asthma treatment and action plans, you will have to know how to monitor your peak airflow, identify asthma triggers, and take your asthma medication correctly.

Monitoring peak expiratory flow

People often underestimate the severity of their symptoms. They may not notice symptoms until their lungs are functioning at 50% of their personal best measurement. Measuring peak expiratory flow (PEF) is a way to keep track of asthma symptoms at home; it can help you know when your lung function is becoming worse before it drops to a dangerously low level. You can do this with a peak flow meter. For more information, see:

Click here to view an Actionset.Asthma: Measuring peak flow.

Identifying asthma triggers

A trigger is anything that can lead to an asthma attack. A trigger can be:

  • Irritants in the air, such as tobacco smoke or air pollution.
  • Substances to which you are allergic (allergens), such as pollen or animal dander.
  • Other factors, such as a viral infection, exercise, stress, or dry, cold air.

Avoiding triggers will help decrease the chance of having an asthma attack and, in the case of allergens, will help control inflammation in the bronchial tubes, which carry air to the lungs. For more information, see:

Click here to view an Actionset.Asthma: Identifying your triggers.

If you have asthma triggered by an allergen, taking antihistamine medication may help you manage the allergy and thus limit its effect on your asthma.

Taking your asthma medication

Taking medications is an important part of asthma treatment. But because you often take many different medications, it can be difficult to remember to take them. To help yourself remember, understand the reasons people don't take their asthma medications, and then find ways to overcome those obstacles, such as taping a note to your refrigerator.

Most medications for asthma are inhaled. Inhaled medications give a specific dose of the medication directly to the bronchial tubes, avoiding or decreasing the effects of the medication on the rest of the body. Delivery systems for inhaled medications include metered-dose and dry powder inhalers and nebulizers. A metered-dose inhaler is used most often.

Most health professionals recommend that everyone who uses a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) also use a spacerClick here to see an illustration., which is attached to the MDI. A spacer may deliver the medication to your lungs better than an inhaler alone, and for many people it is easier to use than an MDI alone. Using a spacer with inhaled corticosteroids can help reduce their side effects and result in less use of oral corticosteroids.

It is important to keep track of the inhaler doses and discard the inhaler when you have used the number of doses indicated on the package labeling. This not only prevents you from having an empty inhaler when you need medication, but it also prevents you from inhaling only propellant after the medication has run out. For more information, see:

Click here to view an Actionset.Asthma: Using a metered-dose inhaler.
Click here to view an Actionset.Asthma: Using a dry powder inhaler.


Most people with asthma can travel freely. But if you travel to remote areas and participate in intensive physical activity, such as long hikes, you may be at increased risk for an asthma attack in an area where emergency help may be difficult to find.

When traveling, always bring your medication with you, carry the prescription for it, and use it as prescribed.

Give teens extra attention

Teens who have asthma may view the disease as cutting into their independence and setting them apart from their peers. Parents and other adults should offer support and encouragement to help teens stick with a treatment program. It's important to:

  • Help your teen remember that asthma is only one part of life.
  • Allow your teen to meet with the health professional alone. This will encourage your teen to become involved in his or her care.
  • Work out a daily management plan that allows a teen to continue daily activities, especially sports. Exercise is important for maintaining strong lungs and overall health.
  • Talk to your teen about the dangers of smoking and drug use.
  • Encourage your teen to meet others who have asthma so they can support each other.

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