Asthma in Teens and Adults - Treatment Overview
Get help for special concerns
considerations in treating asthma include:
- Treating other health problems. If you also have other health problems, such as inflammation
and infection of the sinuses (sinusitis) or
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you will need
treatment for those conditions.
- Managing asthma during pregnancy. If a
woman had asthma before becoming pregnant, her symptoms may become better or
worse during pregnancy. Pregnant women whose asthma is not well controlled may
be at risk for a number of complications.
- Managing exercise-induced asthma. Exercise often
causes asthma symptoms. Steps you can take to reduce the risk of this include
using medicine 10 to 30 minutes before you exercise.
- Managing asthma before surgery. People who have moderate to severe asthma are at
higher risk of having problems during and after surgery than people who don't have asthma.
- Managing asthma in older adults. Older adults tend to have worse asthma symptoms and a higher
risk of death from asthma than younger people. They may also have one or more
other health conditions or be taking other medicines that can make asthma
Know what to do if asthma gets worse
asthma isn't improving, make an appointment with your
- Review your asthma diary to see if you have a
new or previously unidentified
trigger, such as
animal dander. Talk to your doctor about how best to
- Review your medicines to be sure you are
using the right ones and are using them correctly.
- Review your
asthma action plan to be sure it is still suitable
for your condition.
- See if you have a
condition with symptoms similar to asthma, such as
- Make sure you are using your
If your medicine isn't controlling airway
inflammation, your doctor will first check to see if you are using the
inhaler correctly. If you are using it the right way, your
doctor may increase the dosage or switch to another medicine. Or he or she may add a medicine
to your treatment.
For severe asthma that cannot be controlled with medicines, a newer treatment called bronchial thermoplasty may be used. For this treatment, heat is applied to the airways. This reduces the thickness of the airways and improves the ability to breathe.12, 13
Plan for emergencies
If you have a severe asthma
red zone of your asthma action plan), use medicine based on your
action plan and talk with a doctor right away about
what to do next. This is especially important if your
peak expiratory flow (PEF) doesn't return to the
green zone or if it stays in the
yellow zone after you take medicine.
You may have to
go to the hospital or an emergency room for treatment. Be sure to tell the
emergency staff if you are pregnant.
At the hospital, you will
probably receive inhaled beta2-agonists and
corticosteroids. You may be given
oxygen therapy. Your lung function and condition will
be checked. You may need more treatment in the emergency
room or a stay in the hospital.
Some people are
at increased risk of death from asthma, such as people
who have been admitted to an intensive care unit for asthma or who have needed
a breathing tube (intubation) for asthma. If you are high-risk, seek medical
care early when you have symptoms.