Taming your asthma

Is your asthma out of control? Here are a few ways to tame it:

Know your enemy

Knowledge is the key to fighting asthma. Be sure you understand how asthma affects your body, which factors seem to trigger your asthma, how to use your asthma medications properly, and what to do if your asthma gets worse.

Find out if your asthma is really under control by taking the asthma control quiz in "When your asthma is out of control." The 2011 Survey on Living with Chronic Diseases in Canada found that over 65% of Canadians with "active" asthma had poorly controlled asthma. So don't be fooled – try the quiz today to see whether your asthma is controlled.

If you have any questions or concerns about your asthma or your treatment options, talk to your doctor (see "Talking to your doctor about asthma control").

Avoid your asthma triggers

A "trigger" is something that causes your asthma to flare up. Each person has their own set of asthma triggers, although people may have certain triggers in common.

Common asthma triggers include:

  • air pollution or cigarette smoke
  • perfumes or strong smells
  • dust mites
  • mould
  • pollen
  • cockroaches
  • pets
  • exercise
  • cold air
  • strong emotions
  • food additives (such as sulfites)
  • viral infections
  • some types of medications (such as ASA (aspirin), anti-inflammatory medications, and beta-blockers)
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Try to identify your triggers by taking note of things that were happening around the times that your asthma flared up. Once you know your triggers, take steps to avoid them.

Use your medications as directed

Make sure you understand the purpose of each of your asthma medications and how to use them properly. There are three main types of medication: relievers, controllers, and combination medications.

Relievers are used as needed to manage the symptoms of an asthma attack, such as shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, or coughing.

Controllers are used to reduce inflammation and mucus in the airways; this can make the airways less sensitive to triggers and help keep your asthma under control. Controller medications must be used on a regular basis in order to be effective. They should not be used to relieve the symptoms of an asthma attack.

Combination medications are used for people who need more than one asthma medication on a regular basis, and want the convenience of only using one inhaler. Ask your doctor how to use your combination medication properly – for some combination medications, you can adjust the dose to help manage worsening asthma symptoms.

If you're not sure whether your medication is a reliever or a controller, or how to use it, you're not alone. If you have concerns about your asthma inhalers, don't be embarrassed to ask your doctor or pharmacist if you're not sure about the purpose of your medication or how to use it properly.

Talk to your doctor about asthma control

Your doctor can help you tell whether your asthma is out of control, make sure you are receiving a treatment that's right for you, and give you instructions on what to do when your asthma gets worse. Don't be caught off-guard. Talk to your doctor about what to do when your asthma gets worse. For more information, read "Talking to your doctor about asthma control."

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2021. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Asthma-Control-Matters