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Everything You Need To Do To Treat Asthma


Updated December 31, 2010


When an asthma attack occurs, mucus production is increased, muscles of the bronchial tree become tight, and the lining of the air passages swells, reducing airflow and producing the characteristic wheezing sound.

Updated December 31, 2010

1. Understanding Asthma

The first step in dealing with your new diagnosis is knowing how to recognize asthma symptoms, identify asthma triggers and know when to see your doctor.

Start with the Basics of Asthma to understand what is going on in the body when someone has asthma.

2. Know Which Asthma Medicine to Use

Two main types of medications are used to treat asthma: rescue medications and controller medications. Rescue medications give immediate relief for asthma symptoms, but do not treat the underlying inflammation in asthma. Controller therapies treat the underlying inflammation in asthma, helping to reduce symptoms over the long run, but do not help symptoms immediately.

Find out more about the types of medications used in asthma, and which types you may have been prescribed.

Learn how to use an MDI (metered dose inhaler).

Learn how to use a nebulizer.

For controller medications, there are numerous new devices on the market, such as Advair, Asmanex, Pulmicort, Foradil and Spiriva. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to demonstrate the correct technique of these inhaler devices.

In general, it is always a good idea to rinse your mouth and/or brush your teeth after the use of various inhaler medications, especially if the medication is an inhaled steroid (controller therapies).

3. Find Out If Your Asthma Is Controlled

Most people, as well as their doctors, underestimate the severity of their asthma, and therefore most asthmatics are under-treated. Under-treatment of asthma can lead to severe complications, including reduced lung function, emergency room visits/hospitalizations for asthma, and potentially asthma-related deaths. Don’t let these complications happen to you! Answer a few brief questions to find out if your asthma is controlled! Take the results to your doctor (or your child’s doctor).

4. See An Allergist About Your Asthma

Ask your physician to refer you to see an allergist. An allergist is a specialty physician trained in the treatment of allergies and asthma. Since the majority of asthma is influenced by allergies, an allergist is the most qualified expert to help people manage their asthma.

Find out more about what types of diseases allergists treat and how to find an allergist in your area.

5. Perform Spirometry For Your Asthma

Spirometry is a method of testing the amount of lung function a person has. It is a very important part of the diagnosis and treatment of asthma. All people with asthma (at least in children over the age of 6 years) should have spirometry performed annually, and more often if their asthma is severe or to assess a response to therapy. It is considered the “standard of care” to have spirometry performed in all asthmatics every year (and is NOT the same as hand-held peak flow measurements).

Since spirometry may identify problems with a person’s asthma even before symptoms occur, this test is important to check in an asthmatic, even if they don’t have symptoms. It is unfortunate that many asthmatics do not have this simple test performed – so insist that your doctor perform this test for you at least every year. If your doctor cannot perform or interpret this test, ask to see an allergist!

6. Have Allergy Testing Performed For Your Asthma

Allergy testing can help an asthmatic learn what their allergic triggers are, which can lead to better control of asthma symptoms by following simple allergy avoidance measures. Allergy tests can also give a clue as to the seasons that an asthmatic may have more symptoms, so that medications can be adjusted prior to that time. Generally speaking, skin testing is needed before allergy shots can be initiated, which can provide a major improvement in the symptoms of allergies and asthma.
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Allergies
  4. Asthma and Lung Allergies
  5. Asthma -- Everything You Need To Do To Treat Asthma

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