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Frequently Asked Questions About Asthma

1. How Can I Prevent an Asthma Attacks?

There are many things that you can do to help prevent worsening of your asthma and an asthma attack. Some of the most important are:

  • Minimize asthma triggers. People with asthma can take an active role in controlling their condition by identifying those things that trigger their asthma attacks and taking measures to minimize these triggers at home and at work or school. For example, if cats and dogs trigger your asthma, then not having a cat or dog or minimizing exposure to their dander (skin, saliva, and urine) will help to reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. If there is a situation where you cannot avoid the trigger, pretreatment with appropriate medications prescribed by your doctor may help prevent symptoms.
  • Take your asthma medicine. Many people with chronic asthma take drugs (usually an inhaled corticosteroid) that decreases the inflammation of the airways. Studies show that taking these drugs on a daily basis decreases your risk of having asthma attacks. If your doctor puts you on a daily asthma medication, it's important that you take it as prescribed and DON'T MISS A DOSE!

2. How Can I Discover my Allergies?

If you suspect that you may have allergies as a trigger for your asthma, ask your doctor to refer you to a board certified allergist who can perform skin testing or any other procedures needed to properly identify your allergies.

3. My Asthma Worsens Whenever I Take Pain Medication. Why?

One possibility is that you are sensitive to aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (also called NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve, naprosyn). This is a serious asthma trigger and you should completely avoid all of these drugs. Your doctor should also see you so he can evaluate this problem. Tylenol, or acetaminophen, is often safe to use for treatment of pain and/or fever.

4. What Are the Side Effects of my Bronchodilator Medicine?

Side effects of bronchodilators are:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Nervousness
  • Tremor

These bronchodilator side effects tend to occur more with oral forms (pills and liquids that you swallow) than with inhaled forms. However, sometimes even with inhaled forms these can occur. They generally go away as your body adjusts to the medication. If they become bothersome or continue to occur, you should contact your doctor.

5. Can Asthma Drugs Affect my Baby if I'm Pregnant?

It is normal for mothers-to-be to feel uneasy taking medications while pregnant. However, if a pregnant woman has asthma, it is especially important that her asthma is well- controlled not only for her own health but also for the health and development of her unborn child. If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, discuss your asthma with your doctor so your airways can be stabilized and appropriate medications prescribed. The risks of uncontrolled asthma in pregnancy are greater than the risks of necessary asthma drugs.

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