Is My Asthma Under Control?
Studies have shown that more than half of people with asthma are not properly managing it. Uncontrolled asthma can lead to frequent doctor and hospital visits, missed school or work and “presenteeism” where people show up to the office but aren’t working at full capacity because they’re having symptoms, or they’re exhausted from not sleeping well.
Experts say asthma shouldn’t affect your ability to do day-to-day activities. When asthma is interfering with your sleep, your ability to go to work or school or your ability to exercise, it is time to makes some changes to bring it under control.
Signs of Control
If the following statements are true, than your asthma is under control:
-Daytime symptoms less than four days a week
-No night-time symptoms
-Normal physical activity is not limited
-Mild, infrequent exacerbations
-No absenteeism from school or work
-Use of reliever medication less than 4 times/week (except for exercise).
How to Control Asthma
Asthma is controlled by avoiding triggers and by reducing inflammation in the airways with medication.
It is important to know what triggers your asthma, so that you can avoid that trigger as much as possible. Triggers can be either allergens or irritants. Allergens that could set off someone’s asthma symptoms include pet dander, tree, grass or ragweed pollen and mould. Irritants include cigarette smoke, smog, chemical fumes and perfumes.
See: more on asthma triggers
A key component in asthma control is taking the proper medications prescribed to you by your physician. There are two general types of medication to treat asthma: controllers and relievers. Controller medications reduce inflammation in the airways so that when you do encounter a trigger, you are less likely to develop asthma symptoms. Reliever inhalers are there for when you do start to develop symptoms: they work quickly, and temporarily open up your airways to allow you to breathe more easily.
See: more on asthma medications
Asthma Action Plan
An asthma action plan is a set of written, personalized instructions for managing your asthma. It helps you recognize when your asthma is out of control, and tells you how to adjust your medication accordingly. Ask your doctor to help you develop your action plan.
Download Asthma Action Plan
If you’re having difficulty controlling your asthma, you may wish to speak with an asthma educator. Asthma educators are health professionals who are certified to help people with asthma understand their disease and how to manage it. In Canada, they are called either Certified Asthma Educators (CAEs) or Certified Respiratory Educators (CREs) and they have taken specific courses and passed exams in respiratory health.
They work in conjunction with physicians and other health professionals to optimize the health and lifestyle of a person with asthma.
Find a CAE or CRE near you.