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Treating Asthma: Personalized Medicine

Are you getting care that's right for your body, your age, and your background?

Becoming a Proactive Asthma Patient continued...

Keep track of any asthma attacks and any potential triggers that you are aware of. And also write down how often you're having attacks during the night or while exercising. If you have nighttime symptoms more than twice a month you may need a change in your treatment.

Also, monitor how often you use your inhalers. If you're using your quick relief inhalers more than two days per week, you may need different medication.

While you must get enough medication to control your symptoms, don't assume that more is better. Every medicine you add increases the risk of interactions and side effects.

"A lot of people wind up on five different medicines over time," says Windom. "They may have their symptoms under control, but two or three of those medicines may not really be doing anything." So he says that, together with your doctor, you need to make sure you are not taking any unnecessary medicines.

"Once you and your doctor agree on a treatment plan, you need to stick to it," says Bernstein. He also says that people need to be careful to practice environmental control at home -- like keeping pets out of the bedroom, wrapping the mattress and box spring in vinyl to keep out dust mites, and using a dehumidifier. You shouldn't expect your doctor to resolve your asthma entirely through prescription medications.

Finally, don't give up.

"Like other chronic illnesses, dealing with asthma can be exhausting," says Windom. It's easy to get discouraged, especially if treatment hasn't been helping.

But don't surrender to your symptoms. If your asthma treatment hasn't been working, maybe it just needs to be adjusted or changed. You might find that a good partnership with your doctor and a personalized treatment plan could make all the difference.

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Reviewed on September 22, 2008

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