There is no cure for asthma, but once it is properly diagnosed and a treatment plan is in place you will be able to manage your condition, and your quality of life will improve. The action plan will include the following:
- How to use the controller medication
- How to use rescue medication in case of an attack
- What to do if the rescue medication does not work right away
- When to call the health-care provider
- When to go directly to the emergency room
If your asthma has just been diagnosed, you may be started on a regimen of medications and monitoring. You will be given two types of medications:
- Controller medications: These are for long-term control of persistent asthma. The help to reduce the inflammation in the lungs that underlies asthma attacks. You take these every day regardless of whether you are having symptoms or not.
- Rescue medications: These are for short-term control of asthma attacks. You take these only when you are having symptoms or are more likely to have an attack – for example, when you have an infection in your respiratory tract.
Your treatment plan will also include training on:
- Being aware of and avoiding triggers as much as possible
- Coping with asthma in your daily life
- Use of a peak flow meter
- Scheduling follow-up visits
Your Peak Flow Meter
The peak flow meter is a simple, inexpensive device that measures how forcefully you are able to exhale. We will show you how to use the peak flow meter and watch you use it until you can do it correctly.
It is important to keep a peak flow meter in your home and use it regularly. We will make sure you know when you should measure your peak flow. Checking your peak flow at home and recording it helps assess what triggers your asthma and its severity. Therefore you should check your peak flow regularly and keep a record of the results.
Peak flow measures fall just before an asthma attack. If you use your peak flow meter regularly, you may be able to predict when you are going to have an attack. Over time, we will be able to use the records to determine appropriate medications, possible reduced dosing or monitor any side effects.
Follow Up Visits
At your follow-up visits, we will check how have been doing. We will also ask you about frequency and severity of any attacks, use of your rescue medications, and review peak flow measurements. Lung function tests may also be done to see how your lungs are responding to your treatment. During your appointments is a good time to discuss medication side effects or any problems you are having with your treatment.
Emergency Asthma Treatment
If you are in the emergency room, treatment will often be started while the evaluation is still going on. In certain circumstances, you may need to be admitted to the hospital. There you can be watched carefully and treated, should your condition worsen. Conditions for hospitalization include:
- An attack that is very severe or does not respond well to treatment
- Poor lung function
- Elevated carbon dioxide or low oxygen levels in your blood
- A history of being admitted to the hospital or placed on a ventilator for your asthma attacks;
- Other serious disease that may jeopardize your recovery
- Other serious lung illnesses or injuries, such as pneumonia or pneumothorax (a collapsed lung)