Asthma – Questions to Ask When it Doesn’t Get Better
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Asthma is a medical condition. It can be difficult to manage. Your efforts to treat don’t always work. This is especially true when a “trigger” causes your asthma to flare up. This may send you back to your healthcare provider or the emergency room. If this sounds like you, don’t be discouraged. Below are common questions to ask yourself about what works and what doesn’t.
#1: Is it really asthma?
Other illnesses can act like asthma. If your asthma treatments haven’t helped you, maybe you don’t have asthma. Your healthcare provider may want to do other exams or tests to be sure.
#2 Is it something in my environment?
Some people who have asthma are allergic to things in their environment. These things can trigger their asthma. This could be at home, work, or school. If you know what it is, try to remove or avoid those things. This can help your asthma medicine work better. Common triggers of an asthma attack are:
- dust mites
- pet dander
- tobacco smoke
- certain pollutants
- cold, dry air
- viral infection
Your healthcare provider can do skin or blood tests to figure out your triggers. Avoid these triggers to relieve your asthma symptoms and help your lungs work better. It might even reduce the amount of medicine you have to take. Talk with your healthcare provider about ways to remove triggers from your environment.
#3: Is it something in my workplace?
Some adults who have asthma are sensitive to something in their workplace. You might suspect that something at work is causing your asthma to flare up if some of your coworkers also have asthma symptoms. Another clue is if your asthma symptoms get better on weekends or vacations. Your healthcare provider can help you figure out if something at work is triggering your symptoms. When you find out what the trigger is, you can try to stay away from it.
#4: Am I using my inhaler correctly?
It is important to use an inhaler correctly. If you don’t, you are not getting enough medicine into your lungs. Use a device called a spacer with your inhaler. This will help direct the medicine deeper into your lungs. Your healthcare provider can prescribe a spacer and show you how to use it
#5: Am I taking my medicine correctly?
In order for your medicine to work, you must take it exactly the way your healthcare provider tells you. Many people who have asthma don’t follow their healthcare provider’s advice about taking their medicine. Taking your medicine as prescribed by your healthcare provider can help prevent trips to the hospital and even asthma death.
#6: Do I need to change medicines?
Medicines are available to help treat asthma symptoms. Most people who have asthma need at least two types of medicine. A preventive (“controller”) medicine keeps your lungs from becoming inflamed. A quick-relief (“rescue”) medicine helps your symptoms if the first one doesn’t work. If the medicines you take now aren’t helping, others may work. Allergy shots (immunotherapy) might help if your asthma is related to allergies.
Path to improved well being
Your healthcare provider may give you a peak flow meter to monitor your asthma. Use it regularly. Keep a log of your results. The meter is a plastic tube that you blow into several times a day. It checks how well your lungs are working. The results tell you when you need to take extra medicine or contact your healthcare provider.
Stay in good, overall health. Maintain a good weight and eat a balanced diet. Get regular exercise. If you smoke, quit. Avoid secondhand smoke.
Things to consider
A lot of people who have asthma don’t know enough about their condition or how bad it is. Learn as much as you can from your healthcare provider and other medical resources. Discuss all of your asthma questions and concerns. You should know what type of asthma you have. It may be related to allergies, exercise, or your workplace.
Know how to manage your asthma. Learn how to recognize if your asthma is getting worse. Signs include symptoms at night, a drop in your peak flow, or the need to use your rescue medicine more often. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your asthma is getting worse.
Be aware of the warning signs of an asthma attack, which include:
- Coughing or wheezing.
- Chest tightness.
- Shortness of breath.
- Peak flow 50% to 80% of your personal best.
Go to the nearest emergency room if your peak flow drops below 50% or if your symptoms don’t respond to medicine.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The Lung Association of Nova Scotia
Phone : 1-902-443-8141 Toll Free in NS : 1-888-566-5864
The Lung Association of Prince Edward Island
Phone: 902-892-5957 Toll Free in PEI : 1-888-566-5864