Top 5 Asthma Treatments
Checking back in on your asthma management plan is important for long-term relief. Here are the top five strategies for improving your asthma treatment over time.
If you have asthma, you might think that you're all set once you have your treatment plan in place. The truth is, asthma symptoms can change over time. They can get worse, then better, then worse again -- and it never really goes away. You need to be constantly vigilant about tracking your asthma symptoms and reporting in with your doctor frequently.
Revisit these key parts of your asthma management plan to see if you're doing all you can to control your asthma.
1. Keep That Diary Up to Date
To achieve the greatest asthma relief, keep a faithful written record of your asthma symptoms and triggers. Be sure to include the following:
- Instances of shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing
- Changes to the amount or thickness of your phlegm
- Times when sleep problems occurred because of shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing
- Instances of pain or tightness in your chest
- Number of times you use your rescue inhaler and how many puffs you take
- Number of days you missed school, work, errands, or other daily activities because of asthma
- Times when workouts or physical activities triggered symptoms
- Episodes of allergy and hay fever symptoms, such as sneezing or runny nose
- Any other triggers that brought on asthma symptoms
2. Check In on Your Lungs
Whether you use a peak flow meter at home or a spirometry gage at the doctor's office, a frequent lung-function examination is one of the most reliable ways to know how your lungs are doing. Work with your doctor on setting up a schedule for testing how fast you can force air out of your lungs, how much air your lungs can hold, as well as how much air you can exhale after a deep breath.
3. Keep a Constant Eye on Your Triggers
Although medication is the mainstay of asthma treatment, there are many steps you can take on your own to help control your asthma. Identifying and avoiding your triggers is a huge part of that. Keep in mind, though, that triggers may change over time. Don't assume that just because you've got your trigger list figured out, the list won't change. Something that didn't used to bother you may start to become an issue (especially if you have allergic asthma), and you can develop new allergies to substances as an adult.
4. Make Your Meds Work for You
Your doctor has probably prescribed medication to help treat -- or prevent -- your asthma symptoms. A quick-relief medication, such as a rescue inhaler, helps treat active symptoms. Long-term control medications are designed to keep lungs functioning at their peak and help prevent asthma attacks. The type and amount of medication you need depends on your triggers and symptoms, and your needs may change over time. Check in with your doctor on how your medications are working for you. If you use quick-relief medications more often than your doctor has advised, talk with your doctor about whether a long-term control medication may be more effective for you.
5. Treat Your Allergies
Half of all asthma cases are related to allergies, so if you have asthma and have never been tested for allergies, ask your doctor if allergy testing might be useful for you. If you have known allergies, avoid those allergens as much as possible. Some allergens, such as household dust, can be hard to avoid. If you can't avoid your allergens altogether, treat the symptoms to help reduce respiratory inflammation that could trigger asthma attacks. A variety of oral and nasal antihistamine, decongestants, and corticosteroid sprays can help treat your allergies. You also can investigate immunotherapy, in which a minute amount of allergen is administered via injection over time to help build up a tolerance.
Is your asthma well-controlled? Watch for these signs.