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Asthma (cont.)

Asthma Medical Treatment: New Diagnosis

If your asthma has just been diagnosed, you may be started on a regimen of medications and monitoring. You will be given two types of medications:

  • Controller medications: These are for long-term control of persistent asthma. They help to reduce the inflammation in the lungs that underlies asthma attacks. You take these every day regardless of whether you are having symptoms or not.
  • Rescue medications: These are for short-term control of asthma attacks. You take these only when you are having symptoms or are more likely to have an attack -- for example, when you have an infection in your respiratory tract.

Your treatment plan will also include other parts:

  • awareness of your triggers and avoiding the triggers as much as possible;
  • recommendations for coping with asthma in your daily life;
  • regular follow-up visits to your health care provider; and
  • use of a peak flow meter.

At your follow-up visits, your health-care provider will review how you have been doing.

  • He or she will ask you about frequency and severity of attacks, use of rescue medications, and peak flow measurements.
  • Lung function tests may be done to see how your lungs are responding to your treatment.
  • This is a good time to discuss medication side effects or any problems you are having with your treatment.

The peak flow meter is a simple, inexpensive device that measures how forcefully you are able to exhale.

  • Ask your health-care provider or an assistant to show you how to use the peak flow meter. He or she should watch you use it until you can do it correctly.
  • Keep one in your home and use it regularly. Your health-care provider will make suggestions as to when you should measure your peak flow.
  • Checking your peak flow is a good way to help you and your health-care provider assess what triggers your asthma and its severity.
  • Check your peak flow regularly and keep a record of the results. Over time, your health-care provider may be able to use this record to determine appropriate medications, reducing dose or side effects.
  • Peak flow measures fall just before an asthma attack. If you use your peak flow meter regularly, you may be able to predict when you are going to have an attack.
  • It can also be used to check your response to rescue medications.

Together, you and your health-care provider will develop an action plan for you in case of asthma attack. The action plan will include the following:

  • how to use the controller medication;
  • how to use rescue medication in case of an attack;
  • what to do if the rescue medication does not work right away;
  • when to call the health-care provider; and
  • when to go directly to the hospital emergency department.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/26/2013

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