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Asthma in Teens and Adults - Treatment Overview

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?

Get help for special concerns

Special 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 symptoms worse.
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