There are many things that you can do to prevent worsening of your asthma. Some of the most important are:
If you suspect that you may have allergies as a trigger for your asthma, ask your provider to refer you to a board certified allergist who can perform skin testing or any other procedures needed to properly identify your allergies.
One possibility is that you are sensitive to aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen. This is a serious asthma trigger and you should completely avoid all of these medications. Your provider should also see you so he can evaluate this problem. In many cases, acetominophen may be safe to use for the treatment of pain and/or fever.
Possible side effects of bronchodilators are:
These side effects tend to occur more with oral medications, such as pills and liquids that you swallow, rather than with inhaled forms. However, inhaled medications can also cause these effects. The side effects generally go away as your body adjusts to the medication. If the side effects bother you and continue to occur, you should contact your provider.
It is normal for mothers-to-be to feel uneasy taking medications while pregnant. However, if a pregnant woman has asthma, it is especially important that her asthma is well-controlled, not only for her own health, but also for the health and development of her unborn child. If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, discuss your asthma with your provider so your airways can be stabilized and appropriate medications prescribed. The risks of uncontrolled asthma in pregnancy are greater than the risks of necessary asthma medications.
You shouldn't avoid exercise because of exercise-induced asthma. Inhaled medications taken prior to exercise can control and prevent exercise-induced asthma symptoms. The preferred medications are short-acting beta-agonists, such as Albuterol.
In addition to taking medications, warming up prior to exercising and cooling down afterward can help prevent an attack. For those with known allergies, outside exercise should be limited during high pollen days. Outside exercise should also be limited when temperatures are very low or air pollution levels are high. The presence of viral infections, such as colds, can also increase symptoms, so it's best to restrict your exercise when you're sick.
Generally, if symptoms are worse on days that you work, and improve when you are at home for any length of time, you may be suffering from occupational asthma. This may be allergy-related or a reaction to an irritant from exposure to triggers in your workplace. Identifying and avoiding these triggers and starting an appropriate medical treatment plan will help to stabilize your airways and decrease your symptoms. Your provider can refer you to a specialist to begin the correct treatment program.
Heartburn is often a sign of a disease called GERD, which stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Although studies have shown a relationship between asthma and GERD, the exact relationship is not clear. GERD may worsen asthma symptoms and make asthma harder to treat. If you have coughing that is not completely resolved by taking your asthma medications then inform your provider. GERD may be one of the reasons that your cough persists.
Controlling and Avoiding Dust Mites
Controlling and Avoiding Mold and Mildew
An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms caused by the tightening of muscles around your airways. If you are experiencing an asthma attack, follow the "Red Zone" or emergency instructions in your asthma action plan immediately. If you have trouble walking or talking, or have blue lips and/or fingernails, call 911 immediately.
Readings from a peak flow meter can help you or your child recognize early changes that may be signs of worsening asthma. During an asthma attack, the muscles in the airways tighten and cause the airways to narrow. The peak flow meter alerts you to the tightening of the airways often hours or even days before you have any asthma symptoms. This allows you to know when to take your fast-acting asthma medicine. By taking these medications before you have symptoms, you may be able to stop the narrowing of the airways quickly, and avoid a severe asthma attack.
The peak flow meter can also be used to help you:
It is important to know that your peak flow meter only measures the amount of airflow out of the large airways of the lungs. Changes in airflow caused by the small airways (which also occur with asthma) will not be detected by a peak flow meter. Early warning signs, however, may be present. Therefore it is important for the patient to also be aware of their symptoms and early warning signs to best manage their asthma.
Peak flow meters are very helpful if you or your child have moderate-to-severe asthma and require daily asthma medications. Even children ages four and up should be able to use them with good results. People with moderate-to-severe asthma should have a peak flow meter at home.
A peak flow meter is simple to use. Here's what you do:
Peak flow values are best if they are checked at the same time each day, preferably once in the morning and again at night.
The "personal best" peak expiratory flow (PEF) is the highest peak flow number you or your child can achieve over a two- to three-week period when asthma is under good control. Good control means you feel good and do not have any symptoms.
Your personal best PEF is important because it is the number to which all of your other peak flow readings will be compared. Your treatment plan, developed along with your asthma provider, is based on this number.
To find your personal best peak flow number, take peak flow readings:
Once you have determined your or your child's personal best PEF, work with your asthma care provider to determine at what point you should start taking quick-relief medicines to relieve an asthma attack or seek emergency medical attention. These are called your asthma peak flow zones. All of this information should be recorded in your personal asthma action plan.
Then, continue to take peak flow readings each morning. Daily readings will help you:
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