Well Controlled Asthma Means Meeting Your Goals
- No coughing or wheezing
- No difficulty breathing or chest tightness
- No waking up at night due to asthma symptoms
- Not having to use a rescue inhaler or more times a week for symptoms
- Being able to do whatever activity you want, without limitations and without symptoms
- Not missing school or work days due to asthma symptoms
- Taking your prescribed medicines without having side effects
If your asthma is well controlled, youll be able to avoid urgent visits to the emergency room or urgent care center and urgent visits to your clinic. Well controlled asthma means youre doing all the things youre supposed to! Uncontrolled or Very Poorly Controlled asthma can happen when youre not taking your medicines the way your provider prescribed them or youre skipping doses. Many people take asthma medications once or twice a day. Some people dont need a daily medicine but EVERYONE who has asthma should have a rescue inhaler with them at all times.
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Lydia Hutton, from Cardiff, has also been taking notice of her breathing a lot more than usual and has stopped a couple of times to think if she needs her reliever. As a young child, Hutton was hospitalised due to her asthma. Day to day, its manageable, but she cant go for more than 24 hours without her preventive inhaler before experiencing symptoms. Taking my medication has become the same as brushing my teeth, I have to do it but as long as I do it doesnt restrict the things I want to do, she says.
Since coronavirus, shes more aware of making sure her inhaler is on hand, and ensures she has her reliever inhaler with her at all times.
I would often go weeks without knowing where the blue reliever was but now I know I have a spare in the car and one on my person every day. She has also printed and updated her asthma action plan.
Some sufferers are managing right now. Kirsty Warwick, 47, from Wimbledon, has mild asthma and has done since her 20s. In preparation, she got her next two months of inhalers just before lockdown so she felt more secure at home. Her husband was concerned before lockdown that she shouldnt be going out and about, but so far during the pandemic, shes felt well and healthy.
When I had a cough a few weeks ago, I was wary, she says, but I put it down to hay fever as I had no other symptoms and it wasnt persistent. Warwick has also reduced her trips out, which she says is easier now kids arent at school.
How Long Will The Effects Last
Asthma is a chronic condition, even though you might not have any symptoms for decades. Asthma is more common in children than adults. People who had asthma as children often have no symptoms once they become adults, but the symptoms may come back later in life. Asthma that develops for the first time in mid- or late life usually continues to be a problem for the rest of your life.
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Why Do People Get Asthma
Research has yet to show a definitive cause of asthma. However, researchers have determined several risk factors that can lead to asthma development.
Family History and Genetics
Children of mothers with asthma are three times more likely to suffer from asthma, and 2.5 times more likely if the father has asthma. More than 30 genes have been linked to asthma so far, and gene-gene interactions, gene-environment interactions and epigenetic modifications also play a part. Genetic differences also play a role in differences in response to treatment.
People are more likely to have asthma if they have certain types of allergies, such ones which can affect the eyes and nose. However, not everyone who has allergies will get asthma and not everyone who has asthma is affected by allergies. Respiratory allergies and some types of asthma are related to an antibody called immunoglobulin E , which the immune system produces in response to allergens. To protect the body, the IgE causes allergic reactions that can affect the eyes, nose, throat, lungs and skin.
Children born before 37 weeks are at increased risk of developing asthma later in life.
Babies or small children may be at risk of developing asthma later in life if they had certain lung infections at a very early age.
Women can develop adult-onset asthma during or after menopause.
Environment Air Quality
Asthma Information For Childcare Kinder Or School
To assist childcare and preschool workers and school teachers in the care of your child with asthma:
- Tell them that your child has asthma .
- Provide them with a copy of your childs asthma action plan, including emergency contact details. Make sure you provide an updated plan every year, or if your childs medication changes.The school or childcare centre will require this for enrolment.
- Show staff members how to use the medication devices, such as spacers and puffers.
- Make sure your child has an up-to-date supply of medication and a spacer at the centre or school.
- Notify staff if your childs asthma changes.
- Tell the staff about any concerns you may have.
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Childhood Vs Adult Symptoms
Children and adults generally have similar symptoms. But, identifying asthma symptoms in children can be more difficult, especially in younger children who may not be able to tell you how they are feeling.
Here are some things to watch for in your child that could indicate asthma:
- Not being able to keep up with other children while running around
- Having a hard time catching their breath or breathing faster than other children who are doing the same thing
- Looks like they have a cold, which could actually be asthma
- Coughing, especially at night
- Feel restless, irritable and/or very tired
What to do:
STEP 1: Immediately use a fast-acting reliever inhaler . Use a spacer if provided.STEP 2: Check your symptoms. If they are gone, you can go back to your normal activities. If they symptoms get worse or do not improve within 10 minutes, this is an emergency. Follow the steps below.
How Is Asthma Treated
Take your medicine exactly as your doctor tells you and stay away from things that can trigger an attack to control your asthma.
Everyone with asthma does not take the same medicine.
You can breathe in some medicines and take other medicines as a pill. Asthma medicines come in two typesquick-relief and long-term control. Quick-relief medicines control the symptoms of an asthma attack. If you need to use your quick-relief medicines more and more, visit your doctor to see if you need a different medicine. Long-term control medicines help you have fewer and milder attacks, but they dont help you while you are having an asthma attack.
Asthma medicines can have side effects, but most side effects are mild and soon go away. Ask your doctor about the side effects of your medicines.
Remember you can control your asthma. With your doctors help, make your own asthma action plan. Decide who should have a copy of your plan and where he or she should keep it. Take your long-term control medicine even when you dont have symptoms.
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How To Deal With Asthma And Fall Allergies
If pollen is a trigger for your asthma, then the fall is likely to be a challenging season for you, especially if you also have allergic rhinitis . If this is the case, youre in good company: Around 80% of adults and children who have asthma also have hay fever, as compared to 15% to 40% of the general population.
With pollen from ragweed and other allergens on the rise, you may be at an increased risk of asthma attacks in the autumn. You can mitigate this risk by preparing for the season by taking antihistamines and being especially strict about adhering to your asthma management strategies.
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When To See A Specialist About Your Asthma
Asthma is not always easy to diagnose, Fineman says, but you should see your doctor if youre having repeated episodes of wheezing and coughing or shortness of breath. If you’re diagnosed with the condition, work with your doctor to develop an asthma management and action plan.
Although your primary care doctor may be able to diagnose and treat your asthma, if your symptoms dont respond to a first-line therapy of inhaled corticosteroids and short-acting bronchodilators, Asciuto recommends that you see a lung specialist or allergy and asthma specialist.
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Know Your Asthma Triggers
A trigger is anything that can lead to an asthma attack. A trigger can be smoke, air pollution, allergens, some medicines, or even stress. Avoiding triggers will help decrease the chance of having an asthma attack.
In the case of allergy triggers, avoiding them will help control inflammation in the airways. If you have asthma triggered by an allergen, taking allergy medicine may help you manage the allergy. It may limit the allergy’s effect on your asthma.
What Does It Mean
Asthma classifications are fluid. People with asthma can move in and out of these stages based on how their medication is working or how often symptoms occur.
These classifications dont hold meaning for all doctors. In fact, some dont even use them.
Instead, the stages of asthma are a way for doctors to help communicate how severe your symptoms are at any given time. Using the guidelines can help your doctor determine whether your symptoms are getting better or worse, or if theyve stabilized.
Several types of medications are used to treat asthma. For people with moderate persistent asthma, your doctor may recommend a combination of treatments in order to handle daily symptoms as well as flare-ups when they occur.
The most common treatments for moderate persistent asthma include:
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How To Prevent Asthma Symptoms At Night
Using your preventer inhaler every day, as prescribed, will build up protection in your airways and keep your asthma symptoms under control, so theyre less likely to wake you at night.
Its very important to:
- use your written asthma action plan to help you understand how to manage your symptoms and what to do if they get worse.
- go for regular asthma reviews with your GP or asthma nurse. They can check youre using your inhalers correctly. Its also a chance to talk about any triggers that might be affecting your sleep.
Does your child wake up at night from asthma symptoms? Read our advice on asthma and your childs sleep.
How Do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Asthma
Your healthcare provider will review your medical history, including information about your parents and siblings. Your provider will also ask you about your symptoms. Your provider will need to know any history of allergies, eczema and other lung diseases.
Your provider may order spirometry. This test measures airflow through your lungs and is used to diagnose and monitor your progress with treatment. Your healthcare provider may order a chest X-ray, blood test or skin test.
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Managing Stress And Asthma
Stress and anxiety can trigger asthma symptoms, and in turn, uncontrolled asthma can increase stress and anxiety. By managing stress through therapy, breathing practices, and other relaxation techniques, people with asthma can reduce their risk of having a stress-induced asthma attack or episode. Studies show that mindful breathing and observation can reduce stress and enhance overall health, according to the AAFA.
You Cant Maintain Your Normal Exercise Routine
You may notice that youre unable to keep up with any type of physical activity if your severe asthma symptoms are getting worse.
Talk with your doctor if you find yourself coughing or using your inhaler more often at the gym or during activities like jogging or playing sports.
If your chest tightens more often during everyday physical activities like climbing the stairs or walking around the block, you may need to change your medications to get your symptoms under control.
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Risk Factors For Asthma
Asthma affects people of all ages, but it often starts during childhood. Sometimes asthma develops in adults, particularly women. This type of asthma is called adult-onset or late-onset asthma.
You may have an increased risk of asthma because of your environment or occupation, your family history or genes, other medical conditions, your race or ethnicity, or your sex.
Environmental exposures, including those at work, may increase the risk of developing asthma or making asthma symptoms worse.
- Exposure to cigarette smoke during pregnancy or in a childs first few years increases the risk of the child developing asthma symptoms early in life.
- Exposure to different microbes in the environment, especially early in life, can affect the development of the immune system. These effects on the immune system may either increase or protect against the risk of developing asthma.
- Exposures that occur in the workplace, such as chemical irritants or industrial dusts, may also be associated with an increased risk of developing asthma in susceptible people. This type of asthma is called occupational asthma. It may develop over a period of years, and it often lasts even after you are no longer exposed.
- Poor air quality from pollution or allergens may worsen asthma. Pollutants include gases from heaters or vehicles. Allergens in the air include pollen, dust, or other air particles.
Genes and family history increase your risk of developing asthma.
Other medical conditions may play a role:
Video: Signs That Your Asthma Is Getting Worse
Transcript for Signs that your asthma is getting worse
0:00 Asthma attacks rarely happen out of the blue.
0:03 They often take a few days to build up.
0:07 Asthma is different for everybody.
0:10 By learning how to recognise when your asthma symptoms are getting worse,
0:14 itll help you to stay in control.
0:18 So, signs that your asthma is getting worse are variable.
0:23 The most common sort of signs are you may feel some wheezing,
0:26 you may have a cough, you may find a tightness in your chest.
0:32 If you keep a peak flow diary, you may find that your peak flow scores are reducing a bit.
0:38 You may also find that youre using your blue reliever inhaler more frequently than you usually would.
0:45 If your symptoms continue to be worse and youre using your blue inhaler a lot,
0:52 then please do call us on the helpline or contact us by email,
0:56 especially if youre not sure what to do next.
0:59 We can discuss whats been going on with you
1:01 and make a plan for a way forward.
1:05 If you are using your preventer inhaler as prescribed,
1:09 every day, even when youre well and using really good inhaler technique,
1:14 and despite this, your asthma symptoms are getting worse,
1:18 its a good idea to see your GP.
Adult action plan
Using an asthma action plan will help you to stay well. Download and fill in with your GP.
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Tests To Identify Triggers
If you have persistent asthma and take medicine every day, your doctor may ask about your exposure to substances that cause an allergic reaction. For more information about testing for triggers, see the topic Allergic Rhinitis.
Allergy tests can include skin tests and a blood test. Skin tests are needed if you are interested in immunotherapy, such as allergy shots.
Managing Your Work Life With Asthma
Asthma can affect your ability to do some jobs and work in certain environments. But it shouldnt stop you from doing your job.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology , as much as 15.7 percent of all asthma in adults is work-related. Any number of things youre exposed to every day at work may trigger symptoms, including cleaning products, paint, dust , mold, insects, and cigarette smoke.
If you are experiencing asthma flares at work, the AAAAI advises working with your doctor and employer to identify your triggers and take measures to avoid your exposure as soon as possible, since long-term exposure to allergens could lead to permanent lung damage.
Let your supervisor know if youre experiencing a problem, says Grayson. They may be able to take measures, like asking coworkers near you not to wear strong perfumes if thats a trigger, finding alternative chemicals or materials, ventilating your workspace, or eliminating sources of mold.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law that gives people with disabilities the right to ask for accommodations in cases where policies, practices, or conditions leave you at a disadvantage . The ADA mandates that employers must make reasonable accommodations to allow employees to work safely, though in some cases, there may be limited options, Williams explains .
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What To Know About Asthma Severity Levels
What is severity? In simple terms, it’s the intensity of your asthma. It can also be looked at as the least amount of treatment you need to maintain control. Different levels are determined by the frequency and severity of your symptoms, as well as the results of lung function tests, such as spirometrySpirometry measures how much air you can inhale and exhale from your lungs, as well as how quickly you can exhale air out of your lungs. Its one of the most common tests for diagnosing asthma and is often done in your doctors office. and a peak flow meter test.A peak flow meter measures how fast you can push the air out of your lungs. Its used to track your daily breathing so you can detect airway inflammation before your symptoms get worse. Consult your doctor before you purchase a device to find the one thats right for you. Consult your doctor or asthma specialist to be tested and learn more about your severity level.
Severity is based on the level of treatment needed to control symptoms. Your doctor may assign severity level based on the most severe indicator.
A person in any severity level can have severe asthma attacks
Your severity level may change over time
To help determine your severity level, your doctor may ask questions such as:
- How often do you have symptoms?
- How often are you waking up at night?
- How often are you using your rescue inhaler?
- How many normal activities are you missing out on?