Learn to Manage Your Asthma
Asthma is a long-term condition that affects both children and adults. Learning to manage asthma – and even more important – knowing how to live a healthy productive life with asthma is possible. And, it is in your control.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a disease that occurs when the muscles around the small airways in the lungs become inflamed and tighten. The airways narrow and cause symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
These symptoms come and go but are often worse at night or during exercise.
How Triggers Affect You
Common items or “triggers” can cause asthma symptoms, or make them worse. It’s often hard to find a single, direct cause for asthma, since they vary from person to person. But, you may have an increased risk for asthma due to factors such as:
- Another family member has asthma. A close relative, such as a parent or sibling can increase your risk.
- Having other allergic conditions such as eczema and rhinitis (hay fever).
- Early life events that can affect how lungs develop and increase the risk of asthma.
- Allergens and irritants.
- Obesity. Children and adults who are overweight have a greater risk of asthma.
Stay away from triggers
Avoiding triggers or working to lessen their impact is an important part of asthma treatment. Each person’s triggers are different. See your doctor to help you figure out what might trigger your asthma.
Types of Asthma
This happens when a person, who’s had no signs of asthma during childhood, develops asthma as an adult. They’ve managed to avoid their asthma triggers for years, but develop asthma symptoms after being exposed to a trigger as an adult.
There is often a link between allergies and asthma. Not everyone who has allergies has asthma, and not everyone with asthma has allergies. But, allergens such as pollen, dust and pet dander can trigger asthma symptoms and asthma attacks in certain people.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of lung diseases. They cause breathing problems and obstruct airflow. This group can include:
- Severe asthma
- Chronic bronchitis
Most people with asthma will not develop COPD. And, many people with COPD don’t have asthma. Still, it is possible to have both. ACOS occurs when someone has these two diseases at once.
EIB is the preferred term for exercise-induced asthma. Symptoms develop when airways narrow due to exercise. As many as 90 percent of people with asthma also have EIB, but not everyone with EIB has asthma.
Many elite and world-class athletes have EIB – such as Olympic medal winners. EIB didn’t hold them back, and it shouldn’t hold you back either! Your allergist can create a treatment plan that includes the exercise you love. Plus, you can feel better while doing it.
A non-allergenic asthma attack can flare up in extreme weather – either in the summer heat or in the winter cold. Catching a cold or even stress can also trigger bouts with asthma.
This happens with people who work around chemical fumes, dust or other irritants in the air. Asthma caused by another trigger can get worse by airborne particles at work. If you have asthma, and you think your workplace is making your symptoms worse, contact your allergist for help with a treatment plan.
Control and Prevention
Keep asthma under control
When asthma is under control, you are able to live a normal life. You can work, play and avoid sleep disruption caused by asthma symptoms. There are many ways to control your asthma:
- Set up routine doctor visits
- Check your breathing (as instructed by your doctor)
- Take your medicine as advised
- Stay away from things that trigger attacks
- Exercise often
- Learn about triggers, medicines, treatments etc.
Know the signs of poor asthma control
Poor asthma control can lead to asthma symptoms. If you have signs of poor control, contact your doctor. Signs your asthma is not under control include:
- Symptoms wake you up at night
- You’re using quick-relief medicine more often
- You need to visit the emergency room
Even when you are feeling well, keep taking your contoller medication every day as ordered to help stay sympton-free.
You Can Have Managed Success
Because your asthma can change over time, work closely with your doctor to track your symptoms and adjust your asthma medications, if needed. This teamwork can bring success in helping to manage your asthma.
Asthma Management Program
For more information on how to manage your asthma, Health Net has an Asthma Management Program where you can get help and support. The program can help increase your knowledge and improve how you manage your asthma.
It also aspires to help you reduce and avoid visits to the ER. Through the Asthma Management Program, you can get:
- Asthma educational materials
- Outreach calls if you’re deemed high-risk
- Text messages about your asthma action plan
To find out more, call Health Net Health Education toll free at 800-804-6074 (TTY:711). Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time.