Don’t Give up on Asthma Control!
Two words that for so many seem like the unattainable. It is something we want so badly as asthmatics and struggle to get. But it is something that we always need to be reaching for and trying to obtain. The basic definition of asthma control is not needing your rescue inhaler for symptom relief more than two times per week. I will note here that if you have been told by your doctor to use your rescue inhaler prior to exercise or being outside in the cold air, etc, this does not count toward the more than twice a week rule.
Asthma is an episodic disease. This means that your asthma can be under control for a while and then have flare ups. While there is no cure for asthma, it can be controlled. For some more than others, obtaining asthma control can be incredibly difficult and frustrating. Here are three tips to control asthma:
Asthma control tip #1: Revisit your asthma action plan often
I am a huge proponent for asthma action plans. In a nutshell, an asthma action plan is a paper plan that is created with the help of your doctor. It has all of your asthma medications listed when to take them as well as peak flow ranges (if you track your peak flow).
Also on your asthma action plan is specific instructions as far as what to do and what medications to increase and/or add when your asthma is starting to flare up and when to call your doctor and/or seek emergency medical treatment.
Just as asthma changes over time, so will your action plan. Any time your medications are changed or you have new or differing symptoms you will need to have your action plan updated. Following your asthma action plan will help keep your asthma under better control.
Asthma control tip #2: Find the right treatments
Finding the right medicine to keep asthma under control can be quite a daunting task. Sometimes it can take a combination of more than one inhaler to keep asthma symptoms at bay. One common misconception I hear a lot is the belief that a person can become addicted to their asthma medications and/or that the inhalers just stop working after a period of time. These are not true.
Asthma severity can change over time, which can make it seem as though your controller inhaler stopped working. In reality, you need either a stronger/different one or a different combination to get things back on track. Keep in mind when your doctor has you try a new medication it can take a couple of weeks to take effect and for you to start noticing a difference in how you are breathing. Be sure to keep in contact with your doctor regarding your progress.
Asthma control tip #3: Tackle your triggers
Identifying asthma triggers is an essential part of the asthma control puzzle. Some common asthma triggers are things like smoke, dust, weather changes, sickness, allergens, harsh cleaning products, strong emotions just to name a few. If you are new to your asthma diagnosis, figuring out your triggers and how to manage and avoid them will help keep your asthma symptoms from flaring up.
Even if your asthma is wildly out of control, don’t give up on it! It can take time to find the right combination of medications, trigger management and following/updating your action plan. Keep fighting for easier breathing! Your lungs will thank you!
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