5 Steps to Help Take Control of Asthma
You’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to managing your asthma. Follow these five steps to help keep your asthma under control.
1. Partner with your doctor
Work closely with your doctor and any other medical staff.* For example, they can:
- Help you develop a written asthma action plan
- Suggest ways to help you avoid your asthma triggers
- Show you how to use a peak flow meter to monitor your asthma
- Make sure you know when and how to use an inhaler correctly
2. Learn your asthma triggers
Your asthma triggers may be different from someone else’s. So be familiar with what tends to make your symptoms worse. Once you know your triggers, talk to your doctor about how best to avoid or manage them. Some common culprits may include:
Allergens. These can cause an allergic reaction. And in some people, they can also trigger asthma symptoms. Common allergens may include:
- Pollen — from trees, grasses, weeds, etc.
- Animal dander, dust mites and cockroaches
- Outdoor and indoor molds
Irritants. These are substances you breathe in that can irritate your lungs. Common irritants may include:
- Tobacco and wood smoke
- Air pollution
- Chemical fumes
Other common asthma triggers may include:
- Exercise. If this is your only trigger, then you may have what’s known as exercise-induced asthma.
- Respiratory illnesses, such as colds.
3. Take your medications as directed
There are two types of medications for asthma:
- Long-term control medicines help prevent and ease asthma symptoms. They are usually taken every day — even if you don’t have symptoms.
- Quick-relief medicines are taken to relieve symptoms when they happen — to prevent an asthma attack from getting worse. They’re often inhaled directly into the lungs to help open up airways.
4. Monitor your asthma
Asthma symptoms can change from day to day. That’s why it’s helpful to monitor your condition. It can help you know when to adjust your self-care according to your asthma action plan. Your doctor may suggest these tools for tracking your condition:
A symptom diary. You record your symptoms to help you and your doctor see how well your treatment plan is working.
A peak flow meter. This is a handheld device that measures how well you can move air out of your lungs. The peak flow result tells you if your asthma is under control. It may warn you when you’re getting worse — and can help tell you if your medicine is working during an attack.
5. Follow your asthma action plan
It should include step-by-step instructions to manage your asthma. Your action plan tells you what to do on good days — and also guides you if your symptoms get worse. By following your action plan, you may feel better and reduce your risk of a serious asthma attack.
*Check your benefit plan to see what services may be covered.
The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be nor should be construed as medical or other advice. Talk to an appropriate health care professional to determine what may be right for you.
Last reviewed June 2017