Follow this three-step method to keep asthma symptoms under control and prevent asthma attacks.
Effective asthma treatment requires routinely tracking your symptoms and measuring how well your lungs can function. Taking an active role in managing the treatment of your asthma will help you maintain a level of improvement in the long-term management and Prevention of asthma attacks and avoid long-term problems.
Develop with your doctor a written plan of action to deal with asthma. This written plan will serve as an asthma treatment guide tailored to your specific needs. It will help you follow the following three important steps and keep a good record of your asthma treatment:
1. Follow your symptoms
Write down the symptoms you are experiencing in a special note for asthma daily. Recording your symptoms can help you recognize when you need to make treatment adjustments depending on your asthma action plan. Use an asthma note to record the following:
- Shortness of breath or making whistling sounds when exhaling (wheezing).
- Sleep disturbance due to shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing.
- Chest tightness or pain.
- Use a quick relief inhaler (Rescue) — record when you need to use a quick relief nebulizer such as albuterol (proventil HFA, Ventolin hfarrrr) and write down how many sprays you have inhaled.
- Disorders that occur at work, school, exercise, or other daily activities are caused by asthma symptoms.
- Symptoms of asthma during exercise.
- Discoloration of sputum accompanying coughing.
- Hay fever symptoms such as sneezing and runny nose.
- Anything that appears to trigger asthma symptoms.
2. Record how well your lungs work
The doctor may record the results of breathing tests (lung function tests) periodically. If your lungs aren’t working as they should, your asthma may not be under control.
Peak flow. This test is done at home by a simple handheld device called a peak flow meter. Measuring the maximum Expiratory Flow capacity indicates how quickly the air is blown out of the lung.
Maximum blowing capacity readings are sometimes measured as a ratio of how well the lungs are working at their best. This is known as the best personal measurement of peak breath flow.
Spirometry. Spirometry tests can be done at the doctor’s office by a device called a spirometer. Some people use a handheld Spirometer to take measurements at home.
Spirometry tests measure how much air the lung can hold and how much air it can exhale in one second after taking a deep breath. This measurement is called forced expiratory volume (FEV 1). Your forced expiratory volume measurement (FEV 1) is compared to your forced expiratory volume measurement for people without asthma. This comparison is usually expressed as a percentage as in peak flow reading.
3. Adjust treatment according to your asthma control plan
When your lungs aren’t working as they should, you may need to adjust your medication according to the plan you set out with your doctor beforehand. Your written asthma control plan will tell you exactly when and how you can make adjustments.
The chart below can help you determine if you are doing well in managing your asthma. A similar regimen should be included in your asthma control plan. Depending on where your asthma control fails in the chart, you may need to make adjustments to your medications.