5 Strategies for Getting the Most Out of Asthma Treatment

No one knows how to cure asthma yet but finding the best treatment plan helps keep your asthma symptoms in check. 

A young man takes a deep breath outside in nature.

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 healthcare provider (HCP) frequently. 

Revisit these key parts of your plan to ensure you're still getting the best treatment for 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 HCP’s office, a frequent lung-function examination is one of the most reliable ways to know how your lungs are doing—so your HCP knows how to treat your asthma. Work with your HCP on setting up a schedule for testing how fast you can force air out of your lungs, how much air your lungs can hold and how much air you can exhale after a deep breath. 

3. Keep a constant eye on your triggers 

Although medication is one of the best treatments for asthma, there are many steps you can also take on your own to help control your it. 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 HCP 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 HCP on how your medications are working for you. If you use quick-relief medications more often than your HCP has advised, talk with your HCP 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 never been tested, ask your HCP if allergy testing might play a role in your treatment for asthma. 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 medications—antihistamines, decongestants, and corticosteroids—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.

Article sources open article sources

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Asthma Overview.
UpToDate. Treatment of severe asthma in adolescents and adults.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What is Asthma?
American Lung Association. Managing Asthma.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Allergens and Allergic Asthma.
James T. Li, John Oppenheimer, et al. Attaining optimal asthma control: A practice
parameter. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2005. Vol. 116, No. 5.
John T. Lindsay and Liam G. Heaney. Nonadherence in difficult asthma – facts, myths, and a time to act. Patient Preference and Adherence, 2013. Vol. 7.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Severe Asthma.
Cleveland Clinic. Biologic Therapy for Severe Asthma. 
Asthma + Lung UK. Difficult to control asthma.
University of Virigina School of Medicine. Asthma Attacks.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Asthma Action Plan.
Jenna R. Murdoch and Clare M. Lloyd. Chronic inflammation and asthma. Mutation Research, 2010. Vol. 690, No. 1-2.
Mike Thomas. Allergic rhinitis: evidence for impact on asthma. BMC Pulmonary Medicine, 2006. Vol. 6, Suppl. 1.

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