Asthma

Manage your condition

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs. Inflammation of the lining of airwaysmake it difficult for a person to breathe. This is followed by other asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and chest tightening. Asthma is an allergic reaction to triggers, and it has no cure. But, with proper treatment and asthma action plan, you can control your asthma completely. An asthma management plan provides some important guidelines that can help to manage asthma and control the symptoms.

What is an Asthma Management Plan?

An asthma action plan is a written plan developed with a doctor’s help. The asthma treatment and managementaction plan shows how to control asthma daily, what kinds of medicines to take and when to take them. This further explains what medicines to take and steps to follow if asthma symptoms start to worsen. This action plan is different for every asthmatic according to the type of asthma, their pattern of symptoms, and different triggers. Generally, the plan will have three zones:

  • Doing well (Green): In this situation, controller medications must be taken and the symptoms can be easily controlled. The peak expiratory flow rate must be 80% of the personal best.
  • Asthma is getting worse (Yellow): The symptoms get worse in this situation, therefore quick-relief medicine must be taken. The peak expiratory flow ratemust be 60% to 80% of the personal best.
  • Medical Alert (Red): This can be a life-threatening situation. After taking the quick-relief medicines, one needs to visit the doctor immediately. The peak expiratory flow rateis below 60% of the personal best.

The Asthma control plan can be shared with the family and friends of an asthmatic so that they are prepared to take care of any emergencies. It is also meant to be shared with the teachers at school, for children who suffer asthma. This gives clear instruction on when to call the doctor or go to the nearest hospital.There some more ways to manage asthma and prevent the symptoms

Different Ways to Manage Asthma:

Avoid Asthma triggers

Asthma is an allergic reaction and that is why, when an asthmatic comes in contact with certain allergens, it triggers asthma symptoms or flare-ups. Everyone’s asthma is different, and so, their triggers are different as well. To control theproblem, it’s important to identify the triggers and avoid them. The common asthma triggers are tobacco smoke, dust mites, animal dander, pollen from plants, mold/fungus, outdoor pollution, odour, etc. There are other triggers like, exercise, change in weather, food additives, and fragrances that can also lead to symptoms of asthma.

Take Regular medication

Asthma medicine is usually given via inhalers so that it reaches the lungs directly and causes minimal side effects. The doctor will often prescribe two kinds of medicines –long term (Controller or Preventer) and quick relief(Reliever or Rescue).

  1. Control Long-Term Persistent Inflammation – Controllers: It is taken to prevent symptoms and asthma attack. These medications help to treat the underlying inflammation of the airways in a person with asthma. Controllers are taken only once or twice a day as they have a prolonged effect.
  2. Relieve Acute Asthma Symptoms - Relievers: These medications relax the airways and make it easier to breathe. They provide immediate relief and are used during the flare-up of symptoms. These are basically bronchodilators that dilate the ‘bronchus’. It is essential to take these medicines as prescribed, to keep your asthma under control. Using the controller medicine regularly can also help in reducing the need for reliever medicine. These medicines can be taken 3 to 4 times in a day but its frequent use means that the asthma symptoms are not under control or that the controller medicines are not effective

Using the Peak-flow meter

A peak-flow meter is a small hand-held device, which helps to monitor asthma. This device measures the peak expiratory flow rate, which gives an idea of the obstruction in the lungs.

  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate (PEFR) is the maximum speed at which a person can exhale air from the lungs.
  • Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second (FEV1) is the volume of air expelled within the first second, after inhaling a deep breath.

The peak flow meter will help an asthmatic to know if the symptoms are in control, and also help to determine the effectiveness of prescribed controller medications. This device must be kept clean and used only by one person. If a decrease is seen in the peak flow, one can refer to the asthma management plan and know about the action that needs to be taken.Ideally,peak flow reading should be taken thrice a day which can be difficult therefore two times a day is also a safety measure. Healthy people show a peak flow of approximately 350 and 650 l/min. People with asthma have peak flows between 200 and 400 l/min. In severe attacks, peak flow may even fall below 100 l/min

Regular doctor visits

It’s important to visit the doctor on a regular basis, irrespective of whether the asthma symptoms are in control or not. Asthmatics must describe in detail the symptoms they experience so that the doctor can optimize the asthma action plan along with prescribing the effective medications. This way, the doctor can help a person to control and manage asthma symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. The best outcomes are seen when both, the doctor and asthmatic are committed to the diagnosis and treatment of asthma.

Follow A Healthy Lifestyle

The choice of diet and daily activities have a significant impact on asthmatics. It is important to adapt to a lifestyle that can help to prevent asthma symptoms or attack. Therefore, asthmatics must follow:

  • A Healthy Diet - A healthy diet is important for an asthmatic as it can improve the overall health status. The diet must include food with vitamins D and E, which is present in milk, salmon, eggs, almonds raw seeds, broccoli, hazelnuts etc. Asthmatics must avoid food that contains sulfites and salicylates.

  • Exercise -It proves beneficial to prevent asthma symptoms. Precautions need to be taken while performingany exercise or physical activity. Inhalers must always be kept near while exercising. One can start routine exercise only after consulting the doctor. It is good to start with exercises like stretching and low-impact cardiovascular workouts such as walking.

  • Yoga – Certain Yoga Asanas (poses) such as Savasana, Sukasana, forward bend, seated spiral twist, side bend and cobra pose are the yoga asanas that can benefit the lungs. Also, there are few breathing exercises called (Pranayama) that can help to improve the breathing.

  • Other physical activities – An asthmatic must consult the doctor before doing any other physical activities. Activities such as cycling, swimming and walking provides a cardiovascular workout that expands lung capacity and engages each muscle of the body.  Another activity to follow for better breathing is cycling. It helps to build lower body endurance, and this is a key component of physical therapy programs.

The goal of asthma treatment is to ‘Achieve and Maintain Asthma Control’. Asthma management has advanced with the diagnosis and ways of monitoring asthma. This can help physicians optimize the treatment for an asthmatic. To manage asthma successfully, the person must stay committed to the asthma treatment required.This will help to ensure a favorable outcome and an enhanced quality of life.

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