Treating Asthma effectively involves regular tracking and measuring of how well your lungs are functioning. Pro-active approach in managing your Asthma treatment will help maintain long-term asthma control, preventing asthma attacks and avoid long term problems.
Making a customized asthma action plan with the guidance of your doctor is the key to managing asthma better. Make a written asthma treatment plan which will act as guide tailored to your specific needs. These 3 important steps, will help you keep a good record of your asthma treatment plan –
1. Tracking symptoms
Make a note of your symptoms every day. Noting down symptoms can help you recognize when you need to make treatment adjustments according to your asthma action plan. Notes should help you track –
- Shortness of breath or whistling sounds when you exhale (wheezing)
- Disturbed sleep caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
- Chest tightness or pain
- Quick-relief (rescue) inhaler use — track when you need to use your quick-relief inhaler (such as albuterol) and note down how many puffs you take
- Disruptions to work, school, exercise or other day-to-day activities caused by asthma symptoms
- Asthma symptoms during exercise
- Changes in color of phlegm you cough up
- Hay fever symptoms such as sneezing and runny nose
- Anything that seems to trigger asthma flare-ups
2. Record how well your lungs are working
- Peak flow. This test is done at home with a simple hand-held device called a peak flow meter. A peak expiratory flow (PEF) measurement indicates how fast you can force air out of your lungs. Peak flow readings are sometimes gauged as a percentage of how your lungs work at their best. This is called your personal best peak flow.
- Spirometry. Spirometry tests can be done at your doctor’s office with a machine called a spirometer. Some people use a hand-held spirometer to take measurements at home. Spirometry tests measure how much air your lungs can hold and how much air you can exhale in one second after you’ve taken a deep breath. This measurement is called forced expiratory volume (FEV). Your FEV measurement is compared with the typical FEV for people who don’t have asthma. As with your peak flow reading, this comparison is often expressed as a percentage.
3. Adjust treatment according to your asthma action plan
When your lungs aren’t working as well as they should be, you may need to adjust your medications according to the plan you made with your doctor ahead of time. Your written asthma action plan will let you know exactly when and how to make adjustments.
There are two main types of medications used to treat asthma:
- Long-term control medications such as inhaled corticosteroids are the most important medications used to keep asthma under control. These preventive medications treat the airway inflammation that leads to asthma symptoms. Used on a daily basis, these medications can reduce or eliminate asthma flare-ups.
- Quick-relief inhalers contain a fast-acting medication such as albuterol. These medications are sometimes called rescue inhalers. They’re used as needed to quickly open your airways and make breathing easier. Knowing when to use these medications can help prevent an impending asthma attack.
Long-term control medications are the key to keeping your asthma in the green, or well-controlled, zone. If you frequently use a quick-relief inhaler to treat symptoms, your asthma isn’t under control. See your doctor about making treatment changes.
Make sure you know how to use your asthma medications properly. They will only keep your asthma under control if you use them correctly.
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