My doctor agrees that my asthma is well controlled. This is the goal of any asthma management program. Still, there are those inevitable asthma attacks that still occur. In fact, I am experiencing one as I write this. And, ironically, I (your humble asthma expert) am not prepared. So, in light of my pinheaded-ness, I decided to share some tips with my future self — and with YOU if you need it. Here are my 5 tips to help you manage these attacks on your own at home.
Here are my tips
- Have A Plan. Most asthma experts now recommend all asthmatics have an Asthma Action Plan. Ideally, it should be written. But, even an unwritten plan is better than no plan at all. It should list all the medicines you take every day to control your asthma and prevent asthma attacks. It should also guide you as to what to do should you observe asthma symptoms. For instance, it should tell you when to call your doctor or change your medicine regimen. My plan involves increasing my rescue medicine usage. It also involves using a steroid pack if needed. So, being that I don’t use these medicines every day, I must plan ahead. (Something I failed to do this time around. But, in my defense, I just moved to a new home. Is that a good excuse? You should be saying to me, “NO! There are no excuses, John. You are a pinhead! You, of all people, should know better!”)
- Have A Steroid Pack On Hand. I usually have a steroid pack among my reserve medicine supply. Either that or I have a printed copy of a prescription for one. I get a new one once a year so I know it’s not expired or outdated. Usually, I’m up on this. When I don’t have one, I find attacks hit on Friday (it is Friday as I write this, by the way). You have to rush to get a hold of your doctor before office hours close. This usually makes for a stressful day. And, plus you don’t feel good, so it makes for a doubly stressful day (and it’s even worse if you also have to work, which is the case with me today). If you don’t have one, your doctor is out of the office, or if it’s the weekend, you’ll need to find a different doctor to get your prescription. It’s my personal experience that other doctors in the same office don’t like to prescribe steroid packs for patients that are not theirs. So, they usually say, “Go to the ER!” I hate that, but it’s the way it is. And, it does make sense, considering the liability. So, it’s best to plan ahead and just have a steroid pack or prescription for one available.
- Have Spare Albuterol Inhalers. You will want to have more than just what’s in your pocket. That’s what I’m saying here. What if that one is close to empty? What if you lose it? What if it’s stuck under your mattress or something? You will want to prepare for these inevitable events and have spares. I personally like to have two spare inhalers in my reserve medicine supply.
- Have Spare Albuterol Solution. You will also want to make sure you have enough solution to get you through an asthma storm. My plan allows for me to double up the dose for treatments. This means that I use 2-3 albuterol amps (2.5mg each) instead of the usual one. I don’t always do this, but it’s an option for me. So, if I’m doing this every 4-6 hours I can easily run out if I’m not stocked up. Thankfully, I have plenty of these at this time.
- Know when to seek help. My plan allows me to use one steroid pack and increase albuterol without seeking help. But, if I dip into that second steroid pack, I’m told I must call my doctor and make an appointment. Likewise, if I have to resort to an ER to get my steroid dose started, the ER doc usually insists you see your doctor ASAP anyway. Besides, it’s far better to bite your pride and seek help than to stay home and suffer.
There! That’s my five tips!
I write these based on my own experience. A massive cold hit me and gripped my airways. I am not prepared. Seriously! Well, I guess I’m prepared except for not having the steroid pack or prescription for one. Actually, I do have a prescription, I just don’t know where it is. It’s probably in one of those boxes in the garage. That doesn’t do me much good now, though, does it?
Note from current self
I got over that flare-up fine. I did end up seeing my doctor and getting a steroid pack. But, I had to suffer through the weekend while working. Would have been better had I been prepared. Note heeded.