Living with asthma requires that you closely monitor your symptoms. Certain triggers can lead to inflammation in your lungs that restrict your airways and make it difficult to breathe. If you’re not aware of your triggers, you may experience frequent asthma attacks.
While there isn’t a cure for asthma, there are plenty of ways to manage your symptoms and prevent attacks before they happen. Here are five steps you should consider to lower the frequency of your asthma attacks.
It’s important to see your doctor on a regular basis so you receive the appropriate treatment for your asthma symptoms. Make an appointment with your doctor right away if you notice a change in your asthma symptoms like intense coughing, wheezing, or trouble breathing.
Asthma treatment should:
- manage your individual case of asthma
- reduce symptoms
- reduce the number of asthma attacks
- keep your airways open
- help you sleep with reduced symptoms
- allow you to live a normal, active life
Certain factors may trigger your asthma and lead to symptoms like coughing and wheezing.
Triggers vary from person to person, so learn what irritates your asthma and stay away from it if you can to prevent asthma attacks. Or, find ways to limit exposure or modify your behaviors.
For example, you don’t have to stop exercising if it causes asthma attacks. Instead, you can focus on low-impact exercises that don’t put as much strain on your body.
If you need help identifying or managing triggers, talk to your doctor.
Some asthma triggers can include:
- allergens like dust, mold, pollen, cockroaches, and pet dander
- airborne irritants like smoke, pollution, and fragrances
- extreme weather, especially cold air
- illnesses like cold and flu
- other health conditions, including sleep apnea or acid reflux
- certain medications, including anti-inflammatories
Follow your plan
Your doctor should develop a treatment plan with you to manage your case of asthma. Write this plan down so you know how to manage your asthma on a daily basis and what to do in case of an emergency.
Your treatment plan may include the following information:
- your asthma severity
- a list of your asthma triggers
- descriptions of symptoms and how to manage them
- medications to take daily to manage asthma
- medications to take if your asthma gets worse
- medications to take if you have an asthma attack
- whether you should take a measurement with your peak flow meter
Look at your treatment plan regularly to ensure you’re managing your asthma as directed by your doctor.
Write down symptoms
The severity of your asthma can change over time. Your symptoms may worsen or improve as seasons change, or due to exposure to different environments. Writing down your asthma symptoms regularly can be useful when it’s time to call or visit your doctor.
Keep a regular log of:
- asthma symptoms
- days and times when you experience symptoms
- exposures to triggers
- readings from your peak flow meter
- other illnesses you may have
Make follow-up appointments
The appointment when you receive your asthma diagnosis shouldn’t be the last time you check in with a doctor. Instead, you should consider seeing a doctor or healthcare provider every month or a few times a year to evaluate your asthma. This will allow them to modify your treatment plan to prevent asthma attacks and help you live with minimal symptoms.
Make a follow-up appointment right away if:
- you use your rescue inhaler more than two times a week
- you have questions or concerns about your treatment plan
- you have frequent asthma symptoms that get in the way of daily activities
- your peak flow readings at home indicate a change in your lung function
- you have another illness that makes your asthma worse or interferes with treatment
- you had to seek emergency medical care for an asthma attack
If your asthma is well-controlled, your doctor may even recommend reducing the amount of treatments you’re on at a follow-up appointment.
To avoid asthma attacks, you should adhere to the medications your doctor prescribes and pay close attention to your triggers. Never delay medical treatment if your asthma is making breathing difficult. Reach out to your doctor if you’re not responding to medications or if your peak flow measurements are half of what they normally are.