Asthma in Teens and Adults
Living With Asthma
You can control the impact of asthma with an asthma action plan. A good action plan reminds you to take your daily controller medicines and to be aware of your symptoms. It also tells you how to make quick decisions about medicine and treatment when you need to.
To manage your asthma and get the most out of your asthma action plan, know how to monitor your peak airflow, identify asthma triggers, and take your asthma medicine correctly.
Learn about asthma, and see your doctor
- Reference Educate yourself about asthma. Your doctor may give you a Reference questionnaire to help you find out what you already know about asthma.
- See your doctor regularly to Reference monitor your asthma. How often you'll need checkups depends on how well your asthma is controlled. Checkups are recommended every 1 to 6 months. Bring your asthma plan to appointments.
- Set goals that relate to your quality of life. Being able to measure your success motivates you to follow your asthma plan consistently. Decide what you want to be able to do. Have nights free of symptoms? Be able to exercise on a regular basis? Feel secure in knowing you can deal with an asthma attack? Work with your doctor to see if your goals are realistic and how to meet them.
- Reference Know your barriers and solutions. What may prevent you from following your plan? These may be physical barriers, such as living far from your doctor or pharmacy. Or you may have emotional barriers, such as fears about asthma, or unrealistic expectations. Discuss your barriers with your doctor, and work to find solutions.
Follow your asthma action plan
- Your Reference asthma action plan describes which controller medicines to take every day to help delay the long-term effects of asthma. The action plan also contains the steps to treat asthma attacks. See an example of an asthma action plan (What is a Reference PDF Opens New Window document?).
- You may also have an Reference asthma diary where you record your Reference peak expiratory flow, symptoms, and triggers of asthma attacks. This tool can help you manage your asthma too.
- Reference Reference Asthma: Taking Charge of Your Asthma
- Reference Reference Asthma: Using an Asthma Action Plan
Monitor peak expiratory flow
It's easy to underestimate how severe your symptoms are. You may not notice symptoms until your lungs are functioning at 50% of your personal best measurement.
Measuring Reference peak expiratory flow (PEF) is a way to keep track of asthma symptoms at home. Doing this can help you know when your lung function is getting worse before it drops to a dangerously low level. You can do this with a Reference peak flow meter Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window.
Know your asthma triggers
A Reference trigger is anything that can lead to an asthma attack. A trigger can be smoke, air pollution, Reference allergens Opens New Window, some medicines, or even stress. Avoiding triggers will help decrease the chance of having an asthma attack.
In the case of allergy triggers, avoiding them will help control inflammation in the airways. If you have asthma triggered by an allergen, taking Reference antihistamine medicine may help you manage the allergy. It may limit the allergy's effect on your asthma.
Take your asthma medicine
Taking medicines is an important part of asthma treatment. But because you may need to take more than one medicine, it can be hard to remember to take them. To help yourself remember, understand the reasons people don't take their asthma medicines. Then find Reference ways to overcome those obstacles, such as taping a note to your refrigerator.
- Reference Reference Asthma: Using a Metered-Dose Inhaler
- Reference Reference Asthma: Using a Dry Powder Inhaler
Most people with asthma can travel freely. But if you travel to remote areas and take part in intense physical activity, such as long hikes, you may be at increased risk for an asthma attack in an area where emergency help may be hard to find.
When traveling, keep your medicine with you, carry the prescription for it, and use it as prescribed. Also carry your asthma action plan so you know what medicines to take every day and what to do if you have an asthma attack.
Give teens extra attention
Teens who have asthma may view the disease as cutting into their independence and setting them apart from their peers. Parents and other adults can offer support and encouragement to help teens stick with a treatment program. It's important to:
- Help your teen remember that asthma is only one part of life.
- Allow your teen to meet with the doctor alone. This will encourage your teen to become involved in his or her care.
- Work out a daily management plan that allows a teen to continue daily activities, especially sports. Exercise is important for strong lungs and overall health.
- Talk to your teen about the dangers of smoking and drug use.
- Encourage your teen to meet others who have asthma so they can support each other.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 22, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology