All About Asthma

Feb 8, 2023


One in 13 Americans has asthma. If you or your child has recently been diagnosed with asthma, read on for some answers to your questions and basic information about managing this common condition.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a condition where there is swelling and narrowing of the airways in your lungs. This can be caused by common environmental triggers. The tendency to develop asthma can also run in families.

Asthma is considered a chronic condition. So even if you feel better, you can develop an asthma attack at any time. Taking your medications as ordered by your provider will help to keep you healthy.

Symptoms of asthma include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing
  • Feeling tired
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing when breathing out

Learn more about managing asthma symptoms.

Controlling your asthma

Taking your medications as prescribed can help you feel better and keep you healthy. Rescue medications can help you when symptoms occur. Peak flow monitoring tells you how open your lungs are. You may feel fine even if your airways are constricted. Using an asthma action plan helps you track your health and treat symptoms before they get too bad.

Avoiding and limiting triggers to your asthma will help improve symptoms and limit flare-ups. Some common asthma triggers include:

  • Aerosol sprays
  • Animals with fur or feathers
  • Cockroaches
  • Colds, flu and sinus infections
  • Dust mites
  • Dust or powders
  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Smog
  • Smoke
  • Strong smells
  • Weather

In addition, some medicines you are taking may cause asthma, so be sure to go over all medicines you take with your provider. Asthma is especially common in children. Learn more about managing helping your child control their asthma triggers.

How to use a peak flow meter

A peak flow meter is a device that helps you determine how well your asthma is being controlled. The device measures the flow of air out of your lungs. This is a simple but important tool in daily asthma management. Your provider will give you a peak flow meter, and they are also available over the counter. 

Your peak flow meter will come with specific instructions on use. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Place the indicator to the 0 mark.
  2. Stand up.
  3. Take a deep breath.
  4. Place the mouthpiece in your mouth. Close your lips around the mouthpiece, but do not put your tongue in the hole.
  5. Blow as hard and fast as you can in a single blow into the meter.
  6. Repeat steps 1 - 5 three times.
  7. Write down the highest number in your logbook.

For more information about managing childhood or adult asthma, find a provider near you.