Step 1: Assess asthma control. Step 2: Make the necessary changes.
When finding the right treatment plan for you, your doctor will talk a lot about how well your asthma is controlled. Having good control of your asthma means your medicines and lifestyle changes are successfully preventing asthma flares. To know if your treatment is effective, it’s helpful to assess asthma control by tracking your symptoms.
Is Your Asthma Under Control?
You know you have good control of your asthma if you do not have daily symptoms. Another sign is if you aren't frequently reaching for your rescue inhaler to treat asthma attacks.
There are many benefits to having your asthma under control. For one, you can live a relatively “normal” life without frequent disruptions from asthma symptoms. Preventing those asthma attacks could also prevent hospitalizations and emergency visits. Plus, having stable asthma can help prevent lung inflammation and damage. Lung damage from asthma could cause worsen symptoms.
How to Assess Asthma Control
You and your doctor will work together to assess asthma control. In turn, this will help your doctor decide if your treatment regimen is effective. If not, you might benefit from changing your treatment plan.
You can self-monitor your own symptoms to assess asthma control. There are a number of ways to do this, but the most effective options are recording your symptoms in a journal or health app on your phone. This way, you won't need to worry about remembering all the details when you talk to your doctor. Plus, writing it down can help you visually see all the times symptoms are disrupting your daily life. This can make it more clear how well your treatment is working (or not).
Tracking Your Symptoms
In general, doctors place the important symptoms to track into four different categories:
- Use of your rescue inhaler
- Daytime asthma symptoms
- Nighttime asthma symptoms
- Limitations of daily activities
For example, whenever asthma symptoms occur that prompt you to use your rescue inhaler, you should note this in your asthma symptom tracker. Simply recording that it happened can be beneficial: it can help you see how frequently you’re relying on it. However, it may also help to log what you were doing at the time and exactly which symptoms you experienced.
As for nighttime symptoms, you should track how often you wake up due to cough, shortness of breath, or chest tightness.
When it comes to physical activity, you should record whenever asthma limits your physical activity. This includes athletic activity, of course, but it could also be everyday activities like climbing stairs or playing with kids.
Improving Asthma Management
After you begin to assess asthma control, you may start to realize that asthma is affecting your life more than you thought. This is a chance to re-evaluate your treatment regimen with your doctor. They may be able to recommend different treatments that can reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life.
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- Assess and monitor your asthma control. Chicago, IL: American Lung Association. (Accessed on December 11, 2020)
- Create an asthma action plan. Chicago, IL: American Lung Association. (Accessed on December 11, 2020)
- Understand your asthma medication. Chicago, IL: American Lung Association. (Accessed on December 11, 2020)