Asthma Management Program
Asthma is a problem that makes it hard to breathe. People who have asthma often cough, make a whistling sound when they breathe (wheeze), or have shortness of breath. Whether you or a member of your family has asthma, it's important to know what you can do to keep asthma under control.
How do people get asthma?
Often, many people in one family will have asthma. If you have asthma, you may have another close relative who also has this problem. You may never get asthma even though other people in your family have it.
Why is it sometimes hard for a person with asthma to breathe?
Asthma affects the lungs and a person's ability to breathe. When someone has an asthma attack, the airways get tight (called a "spasm"). They make it even harder for the airways to get the air they need. Sometimes the airways also get filled with thick fluid, making it harder for the air in the lungs to move in and out.
What can a person do to control their asthma?
There are many things a person with asthma can do to feel better and avoid asthma attacks, such as:
Staying away from asthma triggers. See the section "What can trigger an asthma attack?"
Checking their breathing twice a day
Taking asthma drugs correctly
Is there special medicine for asthma?
Yes, there are two different kinds of treatment. One type of treatment helps to open the airways during an asthma attack and the other type helps prevent attacks by reducing swelling. Some people need to take only one of these and some people feel their best when they take both of them. The doctor will be able to tell the patient which medicine treatment is best for them.
How does a person with asthma check their breathing?
A special device called a peak flow meter is used to find out how well a person can breathe in and out. It is used twice a day; once in the morning when a person gets up and then again at night when the person goes to bed. The person breathes into it to find out if his or her lungs are having problems, even before he or she begins to wheeze or cough.
Can a person with asthma exercise?
It's a good idea to work out, but not too much. Many people with asthma find that swimming or walking helps them feel better. Anyone with asthma should talk to a doctor before starting an exercise program. It may be necessary to take asthma medication before execising.
What can trigger an asthma attack?
A trigger is something that bothers the lungs and can cause an asthma attack. It's important for the person with asthma to learn what might trigger their attacks and then try to avoid them when possible.
Here are some things that can cause asthma attacks:
Animals like dogs, cats, birds or other pets with fur
House dust that collects on bookshelves, curtains, on beds and carpets
Insects like dust mites and cockroaches
Pollen that comes from weeds, trees and grass
Illness like a cold, flu or respiratory infection
Mold that may grow in the shower, bathtub, sinks or basement
Foods a person may be allergic to, such as cheeses, wine or dried fruit
Dirty air caused by cigarette smoke, hair spray, perfume, car exhaust, household cleaners, fireplaces, air fresheners, baby powder or working in a yard
Weather that is very hot, very cold or very dry