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Asthma can't be cured, but it can be managed. With good asthma management, you should usually be symptom-free and enjoy a full and active life. Asthma is a chronic disease - you have it all the time, even when you don't feel asthma symptoms. To stay healthy and safe, you will need to follow your asthma action plan at all times, even when you feel fine.
How to manage your asthma
Once you are diagnosed with asthma, it is important to take the following steps:
- Work with your doctor to get your asthma under control.
- Follow your written Asthma Action Plan (provided by your doctor).
- Avoid your asthma triggers.
- Use your asthma medications as prescribed.
Work with your doctor to get your asthma under control
The vast majority of people with asthma can achieve good asthma control. If you often have asthma symptoms (even minor symptoms), your asthma is probably not under control. See your doctor and ask for help to achieve better asthma control. It often takes a few visits to the doctor and some time to figure out the best management plan for you that keeps your asthma well controlled.
Think your asthma is under control? Answer these five questions to find out.
Follow your written Asthma Action Plan
An asthma action plan is a personalized written set of instructions from your doctor showing you what medications to take based on how you are feeling (your symptoms) and sometimes based on peak flow meter readings.
The Asthma Action Plan lists which medications to take when you are feeling well and have no regular asthma symptoms (green zone). It lists which medications to take when your asthma is starting to get out of control (yellow zone). If you are in the red zone, this means it is an asthma emergency and you should get to a hospital.
The Asthma Action Plan shows you how to make doctor-approved changes to your medications more quickly than if you were to make an appointment with your doctor each time. Studies show that people who use their Asthma Action Plan have better asthma control.
Your Asthma Action Plan tells you:
What symptoms you should watch for
What your symptoms mean
How to adjust your medication according to your symptoms
When to call the doctor or 911
If you don't have an Asthma Action Plan, print one out and ask your doctor to fill it in. Your doctor can explain what you should do if you are running into problems with your asthma. Make sure you understand what the plan says. If you have any questions, ask your doctor. You can also discuss your action plan with a Certified Respiratory Educator, a healthcare professional with special training in asthma management.
Click here to download or order your Asthma Action Plan
Avoid your asthma triggers
To help control your asthma, it is very important to stay away from your triggers. Asthma triggers are things that cause your asthma symptoms by irritating or inflaming your airways. Asthma triggers can cause symptoms quickly (within seconds), or slowly over hours or days.
Use your asthma medications as prescribed
To keep your asthma well-controlled and to prevent asthma attacks, it's very important to take your asthma medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Taking your medication regularly means you can avoid asthma emergencies.
Many people think they can skip their medications when they don't feel sick- that's not true. Asthma is a chronic disease, which means you have it all the time, even when you don't feel symptoms. That's why taking your medication as prescribed is so important. If your medications are not keeping your asthma under control, see your doctor.
to read more about asthma medications and how to use them