This is a question I get asked quite frequently. What’s in your asthma toolbox? People ask me what I recommend that they include in their toolbox. While things may differ from person to person, I wanted to take some time to talk about a variety of things that you can include in yours.
This one is pretty obvious. Keep all of your daily asthma medications in one place. With the exception of any extra rescue inhalers that you may have multiples of to keep in various places for easy access. This way you will always know where it is. Be sure to keep track of your dosages so you can know when to put in for a refill before you run out. Not all inhalers have counters on them so make sure to write down when you started a new inhaler.
Using a spacer is very important with your metered dose inhalers. It helps more of the medication get down into the lungs vs the back of the throat. If you don’t have a spacer ask your doctor for one at your next visit. If your doctors office doesn’t give them out you can either ask for a prescription for one that can be picked up at a pharmacy or you can order one online. There are many different brands of spacers but they all do the same thing. Spacers aren’t meant to be used with dry powder or respimat inhalers.
Peak Flow Meter
Daily peak flow charting is an important part of asthma monitoring. Keep a graph going either on paper or on a cell phone app to track trends etc. Often times an asthmatics peak flow number will start to trend down before they experience any symptoms. Be sure to do your peak flow twice a day (morning and night) BEFORE taking your medications. It will give a more accurate reading.
If having a nebulizer is part of your treatment plan, try to always keep it in the same place, much like your daily medications. Many people will keep it on their bed side table for easy access. I personally have a nebulizer that I keep in my bedroom, next to my plastic box with the rest of my asthma supplies. I also have a tiny portable nebulizer that is convenient for traveling. But when it’s not in use it stays in the box.
Asthma Action Plan
If you do not have an asthma action plan make sure to ask your doctor for one the next time you see him/her. They are so important to have. It will include your daily medications, green-yellow-red zones for peak flow measurements and tell you exactly what to do when your asthma starts flaring and when to call the doctor or seek emergency medical care. I have an action plan myself. You might find that silly considering I’m a Respiratory Therapist and know a whole heck of a lot about the lungs. When you’re struggling it definitely comes in handy to see it in front of you when you’re struggling to breathe. Even for me.
These are just a few examples of things that can be kept in your asthma toolbox. What you include is totally up to you! I would love to hear what other things you have found useful that you include in yours! Let me know!