For people with asthma, having an asthma management plan is the best way to prevent symptoms.. An effective plan should allow you to:
1. Know your asthma triggers and minimize contact with them.
Avoiding your triggers is the best way to reduce your need for medication and to prevent asthma episodes. But first, you have to learn what those triggers are. Any time you have an asthma episode, think about where you were and what you were doing the past day or so.
2. Take your asthma medications as prescribed.
Asthma medicines are usually inhaled through a machine called a nebulizer, through a small device called a metered dose inhaler (also called an inhaler, puffer or MDI) or through a dry powder inhaler (DPI). For inhalers to work well, you must use them correctly. But more than half of all people who use inhalers don’t use them properly. Ask your doctor or nurse to watch you and check your technique. If it is still difficult to use, you have two choices. Ask them to recommend a spacer or holding chamber. This device attaches to the inhaler to make it easier to use and to help more medicine reach the lungs. Everyone can benefit from using a spacer or holding chamber, especially children. Or, ask about using a “breath-actuated” inhaler, which automatically releases medicine when you inhale.
Unless your asthma is very mild, chances are you have prescriptions for at least two different medicines. That can be confusing. The more you understand about what those medicines do and why they help, the more likely you are to use them correctly.
Although there are some potential side effects from taking asthma medications, the benefits of controlling your asthma outweigh this risk. Discuss each of your asthma medications with your doctor to learn more about their effects.
3. Track your asthma and recognize early signs that it may be getting worse.
Asthma episodes almost never occur without warning. Some people feel early symptoms, including: coughing, chest tightness and/or feeling tired. But keep in mind that because airways to the lungs narrow slowly, you may not feel symptoms until your airways are badly blocked. The key to controlling your asthma is taking your medicine at the earliest possible sign of worsening.
4. Know what to do when your asthma is getting worse.
If you understand your asthma management plan and follow it, you will know exactly what to do in case of an asthma episode or an emergency. If you have any questions at all, ask your doctor.