In this blog we will briefly review the asthma action plan or different techniques one may use to control and manage asthma, better understand one’s own health with goal of prevention of asthma attack thereby helping control of asthma, decreasing need for medications, and decreasing exacerbation of asthma. This blog gives a general guideline and one may want to talk to their physician to better understand and coordinate the plan.
Also, different asthma action plans can be found on line for further developing your own plan and coordinate with the family member in case of an emergency on how it needs to be tackled.
- Understanding ones own asthma. Have a clear picture from a physician whether the asthma is mild, moderate or severe. Understand the use of medications an correct inhaler technique. Know the difference between a maintenance inhaler and rescue inhaler or nebulizer. How frequently it can be used and what is the maximum dose in 24 hours. Are there other associated conditions with asthma that have been triggered such as postnasal drip, heartburn, etc.
- Understand which inhalers your physician has recommended, and what is the regular dose. Is it twice a day? Is it once a day? Or, does it need to be used every 4 hours as needed? For example, Advair Diskus, Symbicort inhaler, Dulera inhaler are twice a day inhalers, but Albuterol inhaler as a rescue can be used every 4 to 6 hours if needed. Singular may be a once a day medication. Rinsing the mouth afte the use of inhalers may help in preventing oral thrush.
- Family plan. Have a documented family plan with the family members if the asthma
gets worse, and how it should be tackled. In mild situations, the primary care can be contacted. How will moderate to severe asthma situations be tackled? Through primary care or the Emergency Room? Have this be clear with the primary care and family members, and what are the steps that can be taken to prevent an Emergency Room visit.
- Prevention of exacerbation of asthma. Find out different triggers that have been exacerbating the symptoms like allergies, increasing the dripping and asthma symptoms, wheezing, smoking, smoke exposure directly or indirectly. If one is smoking then he/she needs to quit and at the same time prevent second hand smoke exposure, perfumes, cologne, etc., one needs to avoid this contact. If someone is working with dust or chemicals use a mask to prevent or to avoid symptoms altogether to avoid this kind of work exposure.
- Peak flow meter. One may want to have a peak flow meter, which may have a green, yellow and red zone. Monitoring the peak flow may help to understand the severity of asthma and once there is change in the color may contact primary care. Example: A person with a peak flow in the green zone and if changes to
yellow zone may be a sign to contact a primary care.
- Asthma education. Obtain asthma education through the primary care, other sources like the internet, and educational books and material that provide a basic
education for asthma. Also, there are foods that may trigger bronchospasm like yogurt, dairy products, cold water, cold drinks, cola, chocholate etc., which may be avoided. Fruits like bananas may trigger asthma or nasal congestion symptoms in many that may want to be avoided. Speak to your doctor about a change in diet before making any dietary changes.
- Log of symptoms, inhalers. Keep a regular log of symptoms like wheezing, coughing, postnasal drip, gastroesophageal reflux disease, sleep symptoms one has and how frequent they are. Also, get input from the family members as many times the one coughing is not aware about the coughing, but the family member is aware. Also, keep a regular log of use of rescue inhaler and review with the primary care or your lung doctor if you have one.
- Sleep symptoms. Are asthma symptoms waking you up at night? How frequent is
it? Is there nighttime use of inhalers? Are you coughing and wheezing? As asthma improves, the symptoms should resolve and one should be able to sleep regularly.
- Exercise. Regular exercise further helps to control asthma. If someone has exercise-induced asthma, may use a rescue inhaler prior to that. Before you start an exercise program, check with your primary care.
- Pranayama / yoga. Many breathing exercises such as slow deep breathing, alternated nostril breathing if done correctly over a period or time may further
decrease bronchospasm. If one is interested, he/she may learn many of the simple yoga exercises and by doing it may further help control asthma symptoms along with good sleep, regular exercise, avoiding the triggers of asthma, and remaining vigilant about the symptoms and its prevention.
11. Acute infection: In the event of an acute respiratory tract infection, see your primary care on an urgent basis or if there is an increase in severe symptoms call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.
This is a general action plan or something similar one may develop. There are many different states which provide an asthma action plan or one may visit the Center of Disease Control Intervention website for different asthma plan and do ones own research. This is a general guideline that we have seen that has helped our patients and have found
useful. Please contact your primary care or your pulmonologist and review the asthma plan with your healthcare provider and make appropriate changes as they recommend.
I hope some of these simple measures as stated above help your asthma or someone you may share this information.