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Asthma in Teens and Adults - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

There are two parts to treating asthma, which are outlined in your asthma action plan. The goals are to:

  • Control asthma over the long term. Your asthma action plan tells you which medicine to take. It also helps you track your symptoms and know how well the treatment is working. Many people take controller medicine—usually an inhaled corticosteroid—every day. Taking it every day helps to reduce the swelling of the airways and prevent attacks. Your doctor will show you how to use your inhaler correctly. This is very important so you get the right amount of medicine to help you breathe better.
  • Treat asthma attacks when they occur. Your asthma action plan tells you what to do when you have an asthma attack. It helps you identify triggers that can cause your attacks. You use quick-relief medicine, such as albuterol, during an attack.

If you need to use the quick-relief inhaler more often than usual, talk to your doctor. This may be a sign that your asthma is not controlled and can cause problems.

Asthma attacks can be life-threatening, but you may be able to prevent them if you follow a plan. Your doctor can teach you the skills you need to use your asthma action plan.

How can you prevent asthma attacks?

You can prevent some asthma attacks by avoiding those things that cause them. These are called triggers. A trigger can be:

  • Irritants in the air, such as cigarette smoke or other kinds of air pollution. Don't smoke, and try to avoid being around others when they smoke.
  • Things you are allergic to, such as pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches, or pollen. When you can, avoid those things you are allergic to. It may also help to take certain kinds of allergy medicine.
  • Exercise. Ask your doctor about using a quick-relief inhaler before you exercise if this is a trigger for you.
  • Other things like dry, cold air; an infection; or some medicines, such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Try not to exercise outside when it is cold and dry. Talk to your doctor about vaccines to prevent some infections. And ask about what medicines you should avoid.
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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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