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Asthma in Teens and Adults - Living With Asthma

Monitor peak expiratory flow

It's easy to underestimate how severe your symptoms are. You may not notice symptoms until your lungs are functioning at 50% of your personal best measurement.

Measuring peak expiratory flow (PEF) is a way to keep track of asthma symptoms at home. Doing this can help you know when your lung function is getting worse before it drops to a dangerously low level. You can do this with a peak flow meter camera.gif.

actionset.gif Asthma: Measuring Peak Flow

Know your asthma triggers

A trigger is anything that can lead to an asthma attack. A trigger can be smoke, air pollution, allergens, some medicines, or even stress. Avoiding triggers will help decrease the chance of having an asthma attack.

actionset.gif Asthma: Identifying Your Triggers

In the case of allergy triggers, avoiding them will help control inflammation in the airways. If you have asthma triggered by an allergen, taking antihistamine medicine may help you manage the allergy. It may limit the allergy's effect on your asthma.

Take your asthma medicine

Taking medicines is an important part of asthma treatment. But because you may need to take more than one medicine, it can be hard to remember to take them. To help yourself remember, understand the reasons people don't take their asthma medicines. Then find ways to overcome those obstacles, such as taping a note to your refrigerator.

actionset.gif Asthma: Using a Metered-Dose Inhaler
actionset.gif Asthma: Using a Dry Powder Inhaler

Travel

Most people who have asthma can travel freely. But if you travel to remote areas and take part in intense physical activity, such as long hikes, you may be at increased risk for an asthma attack in an area where emergency help may be hard to find.

When traveling, keep your medicine with you, carry the prescription for it, and use it as prescribed. Also carry your asthma action plan so you know what medicines to take every day and what to do if you have an asthma attack.

Give teens extra attention

Teens who have asthma may view the disease as cutting into their independence and setting them apart from their peers. Parents and other adults can offer support and encouragement to help teens stick with a treatment program. It's important to:

  • Help your teen remember that asthma is only one part of life.
  • Allow your teen to meet with the doctor alone. This will encourage your teen to become involved in his or her care.
  • Work out a daily management plan that allows a teen to continue daily activities, especially sports. Exercise is important for strong lungs and overall health.
  • Talk to your teen about the dangers of smoking and drug use.
  • Encourage your teen to meet others who have asthma so they can support each other.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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