While there are many treatments available to keep your asthma under control, it’s possible for them to stop working as they should. You may notice this if your symptoms occur more regularly, if you have to use your rescue inhaler frequently, or if your condition begins to interfere with your daily life.
Asthma doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all management approach, and you may find that what worked at one point no longer helps. There are several steps you can take if this happens.
Here are some of the ways you can get started on a new path to successfully manage your asthma.
Keep a close eye on your asthma symptoms to determine if your current treatment plan no longer works.
Signs you might need to talk to your doctor about modifying it include:
- Symptoms occur more regularly than before.
- You have to use a rescue inhaler three or more times a week.
- Symptoms are causing you to wake up at night.
- You have to limit your daily activities because of your symptoms.
- Lung test readings are getting worse.
- You frequently feel tired.
- You have stress, anxiety, or depression.
- You develop pneumonia or another lung condition.
Many factors can trigger your asthma symptoms. Writing down what could be aggravating your asthma can help you and your doctor formulate a new treatment plan.
Consider recording the following:
- triggers you may have been exposed to
- changes to your sleep
- symptoms, including what occurs and when
- when you have to use your rescue inhaler
- when asthma symptoms interfere with your daily life, such as at work or school or when exercising
- other health conditions that occur, like allergy or cold-like symptoms
- results of your peak flow meter measurements. Your doctor may provide a peak flow meter for you to measure the air coming from your lungs.
Many types of asthma treatments can be incorporated into your management plan. The goal of treatment is to use as few treatments as possible so you can live with minimal symptoms.
A good treatment plan will keep your symptoms in check, decrease the chance of your asthma symptoms worsening, and minimize the side effects of asthma medications.
One of the most significant ways to treat asthma is to avoid triggers that cause it. Asthma triggers are wide-ranging and can include:
- allergens like pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold
- irritants like smoke, chemicals, and pollution
- not taking prescribed medications
- cold and hot weather
- damp or humid conditions
Your doctor may consider several different medications for your asthma depending on your symptoms and their severity.
Asthma medications include:
- controller inhalers for daily maintenance, some of which include corticosteroids or other medications
- combination inhalers for daily maintenance, which may contain a corticosteroid and a long-acting beta agonist
- rescue inhalers that contain medicines like short-acting beta agonists such as albuterol
- oral medications like leukotriene modifiers or steroids
- intravenous steroids for acute or severe asthma
- injections or infusions containing biologics
Your doctor may also discuss complementary or alternative therapies, such as stress-reducing methods, breathing exercises, or acupuncture. Many of these therapies lack significant research to prove they can effectively control asthma symptoms. Your doctor may still encourage you to incorporate them into your treatment plan.
It’s important to educate yourself about your treatment plan. Follow it closely to minimize symptoms and improve your quality of life.
You should meet regularly with your doctor if you have asthma. During your appointment, you’ll get to discuss your symptoms and determine whether your treatment plan is effective. Share the records you keep of your symptoms with your doctor so they can get a clear idea of how your management plan is working.
Your doctor may recommend a few in-office tests to measure your airways. One of these is called a spirometry test. This test measures the amount of air your lungs can let out and how fast the air is let out after a deep breath.
Adjusting your treatment plan doesn’t always mean more interventions. Well-controlled asthma may be a sign that you can reduce the medications in your treatment plan. You may also find that your plan needs seasonal adjustments depending on how you react to certain triggers.
You likely have questions or concerns about starting a new treatment plan. They may be about managing numerous medications, budgeting for the costs of the treatment plan, or preparing for an asthma attack. Make sure to discuss them with your doctor at your appointment.
Write down the details of your new treatment plan to make it easier to follow. Your treatment plan may involve a few different medications, so it’s important to use them correctly.
Contact your doctor if you feel confused about the new treatment plan. Your doctor can review what you need to do and answer any questions that come up once you begin.
Your asthma treatment plan should be able to control most of your symptoms. But your asthma can change over time, prompting the need for a new plan.
Record your daily symptoms and share them with your doctor to determine how to control your condition. Finding the perfect plan may take some time and effort, but it’s worth it so you can achieve a better quality of life.