Asthma is a long-term lung disease. It can cause episodes of coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Symptoms can be mild or severe. They can also sometimes be life-threatening. Like all chronic illnesses, asthma cannot be cured. However, in most cases, asthma is very manageable. Anyone of any age, family background, race, sex or general health can develop asthma.
What is an asthma action plan?
It is recommended that those with asthma have an Asthma Action Plan. Work with your health care provider to create a plan that works for you. It is designed to prevent and control your asthma attacks. Be sure to include the three zones created by the National Institutes of Health external icon in your plan:
- I don’t have cough, wheezing, chest tightness, or trouble breathing at any time
- I can do all the things I usually do
- I have some cough, wheezing, chest tightness, or trouble breathing, or
- I wake up at night because of my asthma, or
- I can’t do some of the things I usually do
- My quick-relief medicines don’t help, or
- I can’t do any of the things I usually do, or
- I was in the yellow zone for 24 hours and I’m not getting better, or
- When I use a peak flow meter my peak flow* is less than half of my best peak flow
How do I know if I'm having an asthma attack?
An asthma attack may include coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, and trouble breathing. The attack happens in your body’s airways. These airways are paths that carry air to your lungs. As the air moves through your lungs, the airways become smaller. During an asthma attack, the sides of the airways in your lungs swell and the airways shrink. Less air gets in and out of your lungs. Then mucous that your body makes clogs up the airways.
What causes an asthma attack?
An asthma attack can happen when you are exposed to “asthma triggers.” Your asthma triggers can be very different from someone else’s asthma triggers. Get to know your triggers. You can then learn how to avoid them. Watch out for an attack when you can’t avoid your triggers. Some of the most common triggers are:
- Tobacco smoke
- Dust mites
- Outdoor air pollution
- Cockroach allergen
- Smoke from burning wood or grass
- Infections like flu
What can you do to manage symptoms?
- Create and follow your Asthma Action Plan, even if you are not presently experiencing signs and symptoms
- Avoid triggers that make your asthma symptoms worse
- Talk to your doctor if you have more symptoms than usual or need to use your rescue medicine more often
What if I have concerns about my asthma?
- Schedule an appointment with your PCP to discuss problems or concerns
- Look at your Asthma Action Plan. It will tell you which medicine to take and when
- Take your rescue medicine as soon as you have symptoms. This can keep your symptoms from getting worse
Don't Let Asthma Keep Your Child Out of the Game
Asthma can affect a kid’s daily life. Everyday activities like playing outside with friends can be cut short. It’s important to take the steps outlined in your child’s asthma action plan.
An action plan may help prevent asthma attacks. Your plan can save your life.