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Asthma in Teens and Adults - Treatment Overview

It's important to treat asthma, because even mild asthma can damage your airways.

Know the goals of treatment

By following your treatment plan, you can meet your goals to:11

  • Prevent symptoms.
  • Keep your peak flow and lung function as close to normal as possible.
  • Be able to do your normal daily activities, including work, school, exercise, and recreation.
  • Prevent asthma attacks.
  • Have few or no side effects from medicine.
actionset.gif Asthma: Taking Charge of Your Asthma

Follow your asthma action plan

An asthma action plan tells you which medicines to take every day and how to treat asthma attacks. It also may include an asthma diary where you record your peak expiratory flow (PEF), symptoms, and triggers. This helps you identify triggers that can be changed or avoided. It also lets you be aware of your symptoms and know how to make quick decisions about medicine and treatment. See an example of an asthma action plan(What is a PDF document?).

actionset.gif Asthma: Using an Asthma Action Plan

Take medicines

You'll likely take several medicines to control your asthma and to prevent attacks. Your doctor may adjust your medicines depending on how well your asthma is controlled. Medicines include:

  • Oral or injected corticosteroids. These medicines may be used to get your asthma under control before you start taking daily medicine. They can also be used to treat any sudden and severe symptoms (asthma attacks), such as shortness of breath.
  • Inhaled corticosteroids (controller medicine). These reduce the inflammation in your airways. You take them every day to keep asthma under control and to prevent asthma attacks.
  • Short-acting beta2-agonists and anticholinergics (quick-relief medicine). These medicines are used for asthma attacks. Overuse of quick-relief medicine can be harmful.

Inhalers deliver medicine directly to the lungs. To get the best asthma control possible, be sure you know how to use your inhaler. Use a spacer camera.gif with your inhaler if your doctor recommends it.

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

Go to checkups

Be sure to monitor your asthma and have regular checkups. Checkups are recommended every 1 to 6 months, depending on how well your asthma is controlled.

Monitor peak flow

It's easy to underestimate how severe your symptoms are. You may not notice them until your lungs are functioning at 50% of your personal best peak expiratory flow (PEF).

Measuring PEF is a way to keep track of asthma symptoms at home. It 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

Control triggers

Being around asthma triggers increases symptoms. Try to avoid irritants (such as smoke or air pollution) or things that you may be allergic to (such as animal dander). If something at work is causing your asthma or making it worse (occupational asthma), you may need to wear protective gear, switch to some other task or area, or change jobs.

actionset.gif Asthma: Identifying Your Triggers

If you have persistent asthma and react to allergens, you may need to have skin testing for allergies. Allergy shots (immunotherapy) may be helpful.

Allergies: Should I Take Allergy Shots?

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 22, 2013
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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