One of the best ways to keep your asthma under control is to carefully track your symptoms. This will help you to know if your condition is improving or getting worse. It will also give you and your doctor valuable information about what has helped -- and what you should avoid.
If your child has asthma, pay close attention to his day-to-day symptoms. A daily log of them may even help you avoid a trip to the emergency room.
Don’t know where to start? There are plenty of tools and guidelines that make it easy. Your doctor will go over these with you as part of your asthma action plan or your child's plan. Here’s a glimpse of some of the basics.
Keep a Symptom Diary
To understand how well a treatment plan is working, write down every day what medicines and how much of them you or your child took, and whether you had any coughing, wheezing, or breathing problems.
Record any problems you have at night, too. It may help to divide each day in your diary up into day and night sections, so you don't leave out important details.
You can keep your asthma diary in a notebook, or find online templates to fill out. You can also download apps for your smartphone that include asthma diaries or symptom trackers. These apps may not have been created or reviewed by doctors, though, and their advice shouldn't take the place of your medical care.
Use a Peak Flow Meter
Your doctor may ask you or your child to use this small hand-held device that measures how well your lungs push air out. You blow into the device, and it gives you a score, called your peak flow number. Write this number down after every test, and take that record with you to each doctor's appointment.
If you’ve just been diagnosed with asthma, you’ll use this device to find your "personal best" peak flow number -- the highest reading you get over 2 to 3 weeks. Use this number as a benchmark for future peak flow tests: If your scores fall too far below your personal best, your doctor may tell you to take quick-relief medicine or to get medical help.