Asthma effects 25 million Americans, its incidence growing at an alarming rate. Controlling its symptoms can be a frustrating experience, leaving asthma suffers to feel lost as to the causes and frequency of attacks. What’s an asthma sufferer to do? Have a plan!
Know and avoid your triggers
Common triggers identified by your Phoenix Allergy and Asthma Clinic include:
- Upper respiratory infections
- Cold weather
- Pet dander and other allergens
- Cigarette smoke and other pollutants effecting air quality
- Severe heartburn (including GERD - gastroesophageal reflux disease)
Fight flare-ups with the right medications
- Long term control
- Inhaled corticosteroids such as fluticasone, budesonide, mometasone and beclomethasone.
- Combination inhalers such as fluticasone-salmeterol, budesonide-formoterol and mometasone-formoterol.
- Leukotriene modifiers, such as montelukast .
- And more (a quality asthma specialist will know which one is right for you)
- Quick relief:
- Bronchodilators delivered via inhaler or nebulizer.
Recognize the signs of impending attacks
These include an increased need for your rescue inhaler and increased frequency of asthma signs and problems:
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness/pain
- Whistling/wheezing sounds
- Difficulty sleeping due to breathing issues
- Coughing/wheezing worsened by cold and flu
Always track your asthma symptoms, including flare-ups and how asthma is effecting your normal activities. Note how well medications are managing symptoms, and side effects, making changes with the help of your asthma doctor as needed. The more quickly you act, the less likely severe attacks will occur, reducing your need for medication and emergency medical attention.
Know when to go
Seek emergency treatment when difficulty breathing rapidly worsens, asthma effects minimal physical activity (such as a trip to the bathroom), and symptoms do not improve with the help of your rescue inhaler.