Staying in Control of Your Asthma

Steps to quality asthma care

(May 29, 2014)

Are you having trouble doing everyday tasks like household chores, walking up stairs, playing with your kids? Do you have side effects from your asthma medicines? Are you following a treatment plan, but still can't seem to catch your breath? These are three good reasons to follow-up with your health care provider. Controlling asthma means taking your medication correctly, as directed, and changing things in your life that make your asthma worse. If you have asthma, coping with common symptoms like coughing, wheezing and that dreadful feeling when you can't get enough air into your lungs can be a recipe for disaster.

No one should have to struggle to breathe. You can avoid asthma attacks and related symptom flare-ups by making time to see your doctor at least once a year and more often if you are experiencing symptoms.

Get Health Insurance

Let's face it; visiting your doctor and taking asthma medication can be expensive especially if you don't have health insurance. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, not having health care coverage no longer needs to keep you from receiving the medical care you need and deserve.

If you are still trying to decide which health care plan is best for you and your asthma care, the American Lung Association has a number of resources to help. Visit our dedicated page to learn more about your options to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The American Lung Association's Lung HelpLine is staffed with certified enrollment counselors who are standing by 7 days a week. Just pick up the phone and dial 1-800-586-4872 (1-800-LUNG-USA ) to explore your health coverage options with someone committed to helping you breathe better.

Recognize Asthma Symptoms

Many people living with asthma believe that coughing and shortness of breath are just a normal part of having asthma, but by avoiding the things that make your asthma worse and with the right treatment plan in place, you can be symptom-free.

If you have symptoms, don't put off seeing your health care provider. Make talking about your asthma symptoms a standard part of your office visit. Over the course of the next week, keep a journal of your symptoms. Also, make note of where you are when you experience symptoms. For example, could your workplace be making you sick? Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Daytime Symptoms: How often do you have asthma symptoms during the day, such as: coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath? 
  • Nighttime Symptoms: Do you wake up at night with asthma symptoms, such as: coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath?
  • Rescue Inhaler Use: How often do you use your rescue inhaler to relieve asthma symptoms?
  • Activity Level: Do you have difficulty performing normal activities, such as: walking, climbing stairs, daily chores or playing with the kids?

Next, make an appointment to see your health care provider and share this information with him or her. For more advice on how to make the most of your next visit with your health care provider, take a look at this handy worksheet, Getting Ready for Your Next Office Visit.

Not happy with your current health care provider?

If you feel that your needs are not being met under the care of your current provider, it may be time to seek a second opinion or seek out an asthma specialist, such as a pulmonologist or allergist.

Be prepared to discuss your symptoms, what they are and how long they last. Be sure to mention what you think causes your asthma symptoms and the medicines you take to treat them. Discuss whether or not you feel your asthma medicines are working for you and any side effects.

Know and Avoid Your Asthma Triggers

Knowing what causes asthma symptoms is an important step to taking control of your asthma. An asthma trigger can be an allergen or irritant, an activity or condition that causes asthma symptoms. Take a moment to review some common asthma triggers and work with your health care provider to help find simple solutions to limit or avoid exposure to the things that make breathing more difficult.

The recommended control tips in this worksheet, Avoiding and Controlling Your Asthma Triggers can help you make a plan and take control.

Build Your Asthma Support Team

You don't have to manage your asthma all on your own. In fact, it's very important to talk with your family, friends and co-workers about your asthma so they can be more aware. Build an asthma support team.

  • Start by choosing an asthma partner – someone willing to learn how to self-manage asthma with you.
  • Next, be sure to work with your health care team – health professionals that can help answer questions about asthma control. Be sure to include the American Lung Association's Lung HelpLine in that list. It is staffed by nurses and respiratory therapists that can advise you on the steps to ensure you are receiving the highest quality care.
  • Finally, tell family members, friends, your boss and co-workers about your asthma. You never know when you may need their assistance in case you experience severe asthma symptoms.

Let Us Help You! 1-800-LUNGUSA

It's possible to be active and healthy with asthma. If you feel your symptoms are holding you back, visit your health care provider or make a call to the Lung HelpLine, so we can help you find an effective asthma management plan.