You have asthma and you believe your asthma is under control. But is it really? And if that isn’t the case, what can you do to get it under control?
Controlling asthma: it’s a question of good management
Living with asthma is a challenge you want to meet successfully. If you are affected by this disease, you know that it can have an impact on your well-being and on your everyday life. Managing your asthma is like a long-term project: by being informed, rigorous, and determined, you improve your chances of reaching your objectives with regard to your respiratory health and your well-being. Effective management of asthma begins with some simple advice that you can easily put into practice in your everyday life. It’s a three-step process: taking adequate medication; controlling the triggers of asthma; and implementing an action plan.
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Take your medication as prescribed
There are multiple medications for treating asthma. They belong mainly to one of two categories: control medication and emergency medication. Most people with asthma use both types of medication.
Your control medication prevents asthma symptoms. It acts on your airways and clears them, preventing phlegm and inflammation. You have to keep taking your medication, even when things are going well; otherwise, your lungs may be more vulnerable and sensitive to asthma triggers.
Emergency medication is used in difficult moments, for example, whenever you have a reaction to intense physical exertion and you have difficulty breathing. Always keep your inhaler close at hand for such emergencies.
When symptoms are absent, you may be tempted to stop taking your medication – this is not advised. The presence of asthma symptoms is a sign that there is damage to the airways and lungs. Your objective should be to avoid having symptoms, thereby keeping your respiratory tract healthy and intact. Control medication does just that and is therefore just as essential as emergency medication.
Control the triggers of asthma
The lungs of people with asthma are more sensitive to certain triggers that can set off their condition and bring about symptoms that have a negative impact on their everyday life.
The most common triggers include:
- Physical exercise
- Sudden changes in temperature
- Tobacco smoke
- Strong odours and irritating products
- Air pollution
- Colds and respiratory tract infections
It is important to identify what your triggers are and take measures to avoid them. By eliminating your triggers, you can control your asthma more effectively and, above all, get the most out of your daily activities. As for physical exercise, there is nothing better for your health, and your asthma shouldn’t prevent you from pursuing it! If necessary and if recommended by your physician, take your emergency medication before you engage in physical activity to prevent symptoms from occurring.
Follow your action plan
Everyone who suffers from asthma should have an action plan. An action plan allows people who have asthma to change their medication promptly whenever certain symptoms appear. Your action plan should be established by the healthcare professional who monitors your condition. It is divided into three sections (green, yellow, and red), telling people with asthma what to do in response to the gravity of their condition.
- Green zone: when your asthma is under control
- Yellow zone: when asthma symptoms worsen
- Red zone: during an asthma attack
The action plan provides more effective control over your asthma; as a result, you won’t need to see your physician or go to an emergency-room as often. If you don’t have an action plan for your asthma, feel free to ask your pharmacist and physician for help. They can assist you in designing an action plan for your needs.
The use of a log is also recommended. In it, you can note when your symptoms worsen and how you react to medication.
Is your asthma under control?
To find out if your asthma is under control, answer the following questions:
- Does your asthma produce daytime symptoms more than 3 times a week?
- Does your asthma produce night-time symptoms more than once a week?
- Does your asthma prevent you from pursuing your regular physical activities?
- Does your asthma prevent you from going to school or work?
- Do you take more than 4 doses of emergency medication a week?
- Do you often have asthma attacks?
If you answered yes to one of these questions, it may be that your asthma is not under control. Speak to your physician, pharmacist or the healthcare professional who monitors your asthma. Find out about available resources in your region for people with asthma, for example, a clinic or teaching centre. At these institutions, healthcare professionals who specialize in respiratory conditions can assess your state of health, provide information, and help you establish an action plan for managing your asthma effectively. As a result, you’ll breathe much easier at all times.
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