With good asthma control, you’ll be reaching for the rescue inhaler less often.
If you have asthma, one of the primary treatment goals is helping you achieve good asthma control. This is essential for improving quality of life, being able to participate in your favorite activities, and reducing your risk of hospital visits. Plus, good control of your asthma can prevent your condition from worsening.
“Uncontrolled asthma can lead to changes in your lungs and may result in an increase in asthma exacerbations,” says Ekta Perera, MD, allergist-immunologist in New York City. Exacerbations are sudden and intense flares of asthma symptoms. They may result in hospitalizations, emergency room visits, or the need for oral steroids.
Defining Good Asthma Control
In short, asthma that is under control allows you to live a “normal” life. This is a way for doctors to track the effectiveness of your treatment regimen. If asthma is frequently disrupting your life, that may be a sign that your treatment needs tweaking. It might also suggest that you need to review how to properly use your inhalers.
“Good asthma control is consistent with stable asthma symptoms in which patients do not have significant limitations of their daily activities, may report an improved quality of life, [and] are not needing their rescue inhaler on a regular basis,” says Dr. Perera.
When asthma is under control, you shouldn’t need your rescue inhaler frequently. Your long-acting inhaler and other medicines should ideally put you in a place where asthma attacks are sporadic or rare.
Evaluating Your Own Control
You can assess your control at home by monitoring:
- How often you need your rescue inhaler (short-acting bronchodilator)
- Daytime asthma symptoms
- Nighttime awakenings due to asthma symptoms
- Limitations in daily activities
For example, if you frequently have daytime asthma symptoms like chest tightness or shortness of breath, that may be a sign of uncontrolled asthma. Similarly, if asthma symptoms regularly wake you up at night, that’s another sign that you should talk to your doctor about your treatment.
“If a patient is having trouble controlling their asthma, they should contact their doctor, who can assess their asthma and their lung function and make appropriate treatment recommendations,” says Dr. Perera.
- An overview of asthma management. Waltham, MA: UpToDate, 2020. (Accessed on December 11, 2020)
- Assess and monitor your asthma control. Chicago, IL: American Lung Association. (Accessed on December 11, 2020)
- Understand your asthma medication. Chicago, IL: American Lung Association. (Accessed on December 11, 2020)