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July 2023

Get Asthma Under Control

If you’re one of the more than 25 million Americans affected by asthma, learning to manage and control the condition can help you limit its impact on your life and activities.

Since asthma is a chronic illness, management is an ongoing process. Proper medication use and other steps can help prevent asthma attacks and control symptoms.

Know your triggers

Learning what triggers your asthma symptoms and avoiding these triggers is an essential part of controlling asthma. Common triggers include:

  • Respiratory infections—colds and sinus infections

  • Allergens—pollen, mold, dust mites, and dander from animals with fur or feathers

  • Irritants—perfumes, cleaning supplies, tobacco smoke, and air pollution

  • Exercise—a result of breathing fast

  • Strong emotions—stress, fear, and anger

Your healthcare provider can help you learn your triggers. Then the two of you can make a plan to reduce your exposure.

Take your medicines

Adequate asthma control requires two kinds of prescription medicines:

  1. Quick-relief or rescue medicines that provide fast-acting relief of symptoms

  2. Long-term control medicines that are taken on a daily basis to control and treat symptoms

While the long-term control medicines do not show immediate effects like the quick-relief (such as albuterol), it is critical to take them every day as prescribed to decrease the use of the quick-relief medicine. Quick-relief medicine does produce an immediate effect and relief of asthma and should be used as soon as symptoms occur.

It’s important to regularly use maintenance medicines. For children, remembering to take daily medicine can be difficult. But making it part of their daily routine by taking it with a certain meal or setting phone or calendar reminders is a great way to better manage your child’s asthma.

Follow your plan

Working with your healthcare provider to create an asthma action plan is an important part of treatment.

The plan will help you know what steps to take to manage your condition on a daily basis. You’ll also receive guidelines for when to call your doctor and when to go to the emergency room.

To be effective, your plan should contain:

  • Your healthcare provider’s contact information

  • A list of your asthma triggers

  • Steps you should take when your asthma is under control

  • Steps to take when you’re having an increase in symptoms

  • Steps you should take when you’re having severe asthma symptoms or an attack

  • Specific instructions on how and when to take your asthma medicines

Sticking to your plan can help you live a full, active life. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has more information about living with asthma.


Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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