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Your asthma symptoms and use of asthma medications are consistent with those seen in people with persistent asthma. Unfortunately, it appears that your asthma may not be well controlled.
People with persistent asthma require daily, long-term control medications as well as quick-relief, or rescue, medications when needed. The type and dosage of medications needed vary depending on the severity of your asthma, which your health care provider determines based on how often you have symptoms, whether asthma interferes with normal activity, and how severe these symptoms are.
It is important not to delay working with your health care provider to get your asthma under control. Persistent asthma can be severe, and uncontrolled asthma can be serious -- even life threatening. Fortunately, most cases of asthma can be brought under control with effective treatment.
Continue reading for steps you could use to improve your asthma control.
Using a Peak Flow Meter
A peak flow meter is a small hand-held device that you blow into to check how well your lungs are working. It's an important tool used to monitor your asthma.
Lung function cannot be seen and may be difficult to judge based on your symptoms. Some people are not able to sense that their asthma is getting worse. A peak flow meter gives you an objective measurement for how well treatment is controlling your asthma and whether a change in your action treatment plan is needed.
Even if you do not use a peak flow meter to regularly monitor your asthma, it is a good idea to have a peak flow meter handy, to know how to use it, and to let your health care provider know what your best measurement is.
Your Asthma Treatment
Medication plays a key role in controlling asthma. But the potentially variable nature of asthma symptoms means that you need to regularly monitor your asthma and work with your health care provider to ensure you are on the right medications based on the severity of your symptoms.
When talking about treatment with your health care provider, be sure you understand why, when, and how to use your medications. Below you will find important information about the medications you are currently using to treat your asthma and how to properly use them.
Long-term Asthma Treatments
Asthma is a chronic disease and those with persistent asthma need long-term treatment. This includes medications that are taken daily to help prevent asthma symptoms. Long-term medications do not provide quick relief of symptoms and must be taken daily to be effective.
There are several types of long-term control medications. You are currently taking an inhaled corticosteroid plus long-acting beta agonist and a mast cell stabilizer.
Learn more about your medication and other forms of long-term control medications used for asthma:
Inhaled corticosteroids. These medications reduce airway inflammation and swelling, making the airways less sensitive and reactive to substances that are inhaled.
Inhaled long-acting beta-agonists. These daily medications relax tightened muscles around the airways, allowing the airways to open wider. These are always used with inhaled corticosteroids.
Combination inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-agonists. These medications mix the anti-inflammatory effect of inhaled corticosteroids with the relaxation and dilating effects of long-acting beta-agonists.
Leukotriene modifiers. These medications help block the actions of leukotrienes, chemicals found naturally in the body that can increase mucus production and tighten muscles in the airway. These can also be used with an inhaled corticosteroid.
Mast cell stabilizers. These medications can help prevent your immune cells, or mast cells, from releasing inflammatory or irritating substances. This type of medication may work especially well for those with allergies and asthma or as a preventive treatment before exercise.
Immunomodulators. These injected medications are used only in people who have severe, persistent asthma triggered by allergies and that cannot be well controlled with other medications.
Oral methylxanthines. These drugs help open the airways by relaxing muscles on the airway walls, making it easier to breathe. They may also have an anti-inflammatory effect.
The effectiveness of these medications can vary depending on the person. Therefore, regularly monitoring your asthma symptoms and peak flow numbers is important to help determine proper asthma control.
Short-term Relief Medications
Short-term relief, or rescue, medications are used when you are having an asthma attack. When used correctly, these medications are essential for all people with asthma because they can stop asthma symptoms before they get worse. For those with exercise-induced asthma, a rescue medication may also be used before activity as a preventative measure.
The most commonly used short-term relief medications are inhaled short-acting bronchodilators. These drugs work quickly to help relax tightened muscles around the airways, making it easier to breathe.
Anticholinergics are another type of short-term relief medication that work like short-acting bronchodilators. This type of medication can be used for those who have asthma but do not tolerate short-acting bronchodilators.
To help determine how well controlled you are, keep track of how often you use your rescue inhaler. If you find that you are using it more often than usual, let your health care provider know along with your peak flow readings. Based on this information, your health care provider can review your treatment plan and, if necessary, make adjustments.
Taking Your Daily Medications Correctly
Knowing which medication you take and knowing how use them correctly is essential to managing your asthma. You need to know the names and dosages of your medications, what those medications do, when you should take them, and how to take them correctly.
The majority of asthma medications are taken using an inhaler, which delivers medicine right where you need it -- in your airways. Not all inhalers work in the same way, so knowing which type you have and how to use it are important for the best results.
When to take your medication is just as important. A rescue inhaler is used when you are suffering from an asthma attack, so you could go weeks without using it. However, long-term asthma medications must be taken every day to be effective in controlling asthma, even if you are not having any symptoms.
If you are concerned you are not taking your asthma medications correctly, see your health care provider and ask for clarification on your treatment plan and how to properly use your medications.
Other Conditions That Can Affect Your Asthma
Certain things can trigger or make asthma symptoms worse. Along with environmental triggers like pet hair, pollen, or smoke, there are also certain medical conditions that can worsen asthma symptoms. While you may not be able to prevent these conditions, proper treatment of your condition can help ensure the best possible asthma control.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
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