Asthma in Teens and Adults (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Living With Asthma
You can control the impact asthma has on your life by following your asthma action plan consistently. A management plan can help you reduce inflammation to decrease the severity, frequency, and duration of asthma attacks. Following your action plan may be hard because of the many different factors involved.
To help yourself remain consistent in following your asthma action plan:
Your asthma action plan generally consists of the following:
For more information on how to monitor and treat asthma, see:
To effectively manage your asthma and use your asthma action plan, you will have to know how to monitor your peak airflow, identify asthma triggers, and take your asthma medicine correctly.
Monitoring peak expiratory flow
People often underestimate the severity of their symptoms. They may not notice symptoms until their lungs are functioning at 50% of their personal best measurement. Measuring peak expiratory flow (PEF) is a way to keep track of asthma symptoms at home. Doing this can help you know when your lung function is becoming worse before it drops to a dangerously low level. You can do this with a peak flow meter. For more information, see:
Identifying asthma triggers
A trigger is anything that can lead to an asthma attack. A trigger can be:
Avoiding triggers will help decrease the chance of having an asthma attack and, in the case of allergens, will help control inflammation in the bronchial tubes, which carry air to the lungs. For more information, see:
If you have asthma triggered by an allergen, taking antihistamine medicine may help you manage the allergy and thus limit its effect on your asthma.
Taking your asthma medicine
Taking medicines is an important part of asthma treatment. But because you may need to take more than one medicine, it can be hard to remember to take them. To help yourself remember, understand the reasons people don't take their asthma medicines, and then find ways to overcome those obstacles, such as taping a note to your refrigerator.
Most medicines for asthma are inhaled. Inhaled medicines give a specific dose of the medicine directly to the bronchial tubes, avoiding or decreasing the effects of the medicine on the rest of the body. Delivery systems for inhaled medicines include metered-dose and dry powder inhalers and nebulizers. A metered-dose inhaler is used most often.
Sometimes doctors recommend the use of a spacer with a metered-dose inhaler (MDI). The spacer is attached to the MDI. A spacer may deliver the medicine to your lungs better than an inhaler alone, and for many people it is easier to use than an MDI alone. Using a spacer with inhaled corticosteroids can help reduce their side effects and the need for oral corticosteroids.
It is important to keep track of the inhaler doses and discard the inhaler when you have used the number of doses indicated on the package labeling. This not only prevents you from having an empty inhaler when you need medicine, but it also prevents you from inhaling only propellant after the medicine has run out. Some metered-dose inhalers and dry powder inhalers have counters that let you know how much medicine is left. For more information, see:
Most people with asthma can travel freely. But if you travel to remote areas and participate in intensive physical activity, such as long hikes, you may be at increased risk for an asthma attack in an area where emergency help may be difficult to find.
When traveling, always bring your medicine with you, carry the prescription for it, and use it as prescribed. Also carry your asthma action plan so you know what medicines to take every day and what to do if you have an asthma attack.
Give teens extra attention
Teens who have asthma may view the disease as cutting into their independence and setting them apart from their peers. Parents and other adults should offer support and encouragement to help teens stick with a treatment program. It's important to:
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