Don’t let asthma slow you down: Tips for managing symptoms

Apr 1, 2022


Did you know about 1 in 13 Americans have asthma? That’s about 20 million adults and 5 million children. The condition accounts for numerous doctor and emergency department visits each year. Nearly half of all children with asthma have had at least one asthma attack in the last year.

There’s no cure for asthma. But the good news is that you can learn to manage symptoms. Follow these tips to stop asthma from slowing you down.

Know your triggers

One of the most important steps in managing asthma is understanding your asthma triggers. The tricky thing about triggers is that they vary from person to person. In general, however, many triggers are environmental. Pay attention to changes in your environment and note when you have asthma symptom flares. For example, you may cough and wheeze when exposed to:

  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Pet dander
  • Pollen
  • Pollution
  • Secondhand smoke

You may also experience an uptick in your asthma symptoms after catching a cold or another virus. Do you best to avoid triggers as much as you reasonably can, including staying well by washing your hands and disinfecting high-touch surfaces regularly.

What’s your plan?

Once you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, you should work with your healthcare provider to create an asthma action plan. The plan should include detailed information about:

  • What medicines you need to take and when
  • Signs that your asthma symptoms are worsening
  • What to do in case of an emergency

You can share your action asthma plan with other members of your household so they also know what to do in case of emergency. If your child has asthma, share the action plan with their daycare provider, school nurse or teachers.

How to use an inhaler

While an inhaler is arguably the most well-known asthma treatment, many people don’t know how to properly use it. The first step is understanding the two types of inhalers:

  • Rescue medication inhalers contain medicines to reduce symptoms quickly when you are actively wheezing.
  • Controller medication inhalers contain a steroid that decreases your sensitivity to asthma triggers.

Your healthcare provider gives you instructions for inhaler use as part of your asthma action plan. You may need to use the controller medication daily. Or, you may use it as needed, such as when you have a cold.

It’s important to always use a spacer with your inhaler. The spacer is the cannister that holds the inhaler and aerosolizes the medicine in the inhaler so that you can breathe it in over a few breaths instead of in one. If you don’t use the spacer, you’re more likely to just swallow the medication, instead of breathing it in so it goes to your lungs as it’s supposed to.

Need help with asthma management? Find an Adventist Health provider near you.