Six Steps

The First Step…

Control your Asthma by recognizing your signs and symptoms.
People with asthma have very sensitive airways in their lungs that can become chronically inflamed. Around some triggers, these airways become irritated and you may have an asthma attack.

Here’s what can happen:

· The inside lining of your lungs’ become red and swollen.
· Sticky mucus blocks these airways.
· Coughing becomes harder to help push out this sticky mucus.
· Muscles around these airways get tighter.
· Breathing becomes very hard and may sound like a high pitch wheeze or whistle.

Asthma attacks don’t happen suddenly. There are always signs to warn you to prepare and stop an attack. Watch for these signs. You know them better than anyone, but some warning signs can include:

· A feeling of tightness in your chest.
· Wheezing-a high-pitched raspy sound or whistle while breathing.
· Shortness of breath.
· Coughing when you don’t have a cold.
· Congested lungs.
· Less airflow into your lungs as measured by a peak flow meter.

Sometimes it’s hard to recognize asthma’s signs and symptoms. Write down your asthma warning signs so you will know an attack is coming and can prepare for it. Also, always tell you doctor about the asthma signs and symptoms you have. 

The Second Step…

Control your Asthma by Recognizing and Avoiding Your Asthma Triggers.
No two people are alike when it comes to what triggers an asthma attack for them. To help control your asthma and to identify your triggers, you may have to see a doctor who specializes in asthma.

Common asthma triggers are:

Allergies & Dust
Cigarette Smoke & Air Pollution
Stress, Anxiety, or Emotion


Many people with asthma also suffer from allergies. Your doctor may send you to an allergy doctor to be tested and treated for these common allergies:

Pollen, mold and grasses.
Dust mites and cockroaches.
Certain medicines, like aspirin and blood pressure pills.

What You Can Do

Take the medicine your doctor gives you to help prevent asthma attacks caused by allergies.
Remove household furnishings that collect dust, like curtains, rugs, carpets, or small objects.
Dust and vacuum often to remove dust. If possible, have someone else do the cleaning. If not, wear a dust mask that covers your nose and mouth.
Keep pets out of the bedroom and, if possible, out of the house.
Fix leaks and water damage to prevent mold growth.
Prevent cockroaches by keeping food cleaned up. If needed, use roach baits instead of sprays.


People with asthma may get worse symptoms if they catch a cold, flu, bronchitis, or pneumonia. Go to the doctor right away if you have:

Fever or chills.
Shortness of breath or wheezing more than usual.
A bad cough.
Thicker mucus that changes color.
Headaches, loss of appetite, feeling dizzy or sleepy.

What You Can Do

Get a flu shot every year.
Get a one-time shot for pneumonia.
Keep healthy with daily exercise. If exercise is a trigger for you, please read the precautions under Trigger: Exercise.
Eat good, healthy food.
Get enough sleep to help fight off germs that cause infection.
Keep your lungs clear of mucus.
Take all medicine exactly as your doctor tells you.

TRIGGER: Cigarette Smoke & Air Pollution

Indoor and outdoor air pollution - dirt, gas, fumes, cigarette smoke, smoke or dust from fireplaces, factories, car and truck exhaust-can be a strong asthma trigger and sometimes cause infection and lung damage.

What You Can Do

If you smoke, stop!
If you don’t smoke, try to stay away from people who do.
Stay away from places with dirty air, such as traffic jams, parking garages, dusty workplaces, and smoke-filled rooms.
Listen for TV and radio air pollution news alerts.
Limit outdoor activity on days when air pollution levels are high. If possible, use an air conditioner when indoors.
Ask your doctor for other ways to stop asthma attacks caused by air pollution.

TRIGGER: Exercise

Some people with asthma begin wheezing and breathing harder after they exercise like running up stairs too fast, carrying heavy things, jogging, bike riding or playing team sports.

What You Can Do

Ask your doctor about taking medicine before exercise to prevent attacks or episodes.
Warm up for your exercise slowly.
Change how fast you do your exercise.
Pick a different sport such as swimming. This is a good exercise for many people with asthma.


Most homes have products that can irritate the airways of someone with asthma such as:

Fumes and smells from cleaning products, paint, paint thinner and liquid bleach.
Personal products like spray deodorants, perfumes, hair sprays, talcum powder, and scented cosmetics.
Exhaust from gas stoves.
Fireplace smoke.

What You Can Do

Clean with baking soda in water or use special baking soda cleaning products.
Avoid using spray products.
If possible, have someone else do jobs like house cleaning or painting.


Asthma is not caused by stress, anxiety, or emotions but these can affect a person’s breathing.
Laughing, crying, or yelling can excite nerves that cause the muscles in your lungs’ airways to tighten. Anxiety during an asthma attack can cause you to breathe too hard and fast, making an attack worse.

What You Can Do

When you are stressed, anxious, or emotional, think about your breathing, and try harder to relax and breathe slowly.


Drastic changes in the weather or the seasons, along with air pollution, can start an asthma attack.

What You Can Do

If cold weather bothers your lungs, try breathing through your nose rather than your mouth, or cover your nose and mouth with a scarf.
If summer humidity, pollen, or air pollution bothers your lungs, check news alerts about poor air quality days. Stay indoors in air conditioning, if possible.
Ask your doctor about how to prevent attacks caused by the weather.

The Third Step…

Control your Asthma by Taking Your Medicine as Prescribed

Asthma Medicines keep the airways in your lungs open and can prevent or stop an asthma attack. Using your asthma medicine the right way is very important to your good health. Talk to you doctor about how and when to take your medicines. This means taking your medicine as your doctor tells you, even if you feel fine.

Be sure to tell your doctor:

All the medicines you take-even if you don’t use them every day. This includes cough medicine, nose spray, aspirin, laxatives, antacids, birth control pills, vitamins, and food supplements.
If you use shark and turtle oils, eucalyptus teas or baths, mentholated baths, massages, or any other type of home remedy to treat your asthma.
If you asthma medicine is not working. The doctor may need to change the amount of medicine you take.
Two Types of Medicine to Control Asthma

Long-Term Medicines to Prevent Symptoms and Control Asthma

Long-term asthma medicines help reduce swelling in your lungs’ airways and are taken every day to help prevent symptoms and to control asthma, even when you are feeling well.

Quick-Relief Medicines for Quick Relief from Asthma Symptoms

Quick-relief asthma medicines are taken only when needed to quickly relax and open your lungs’ airways. But, these medicines only help control asthma for a few hours. Quick-relief medicines don’t keep asthma symptoms from coming back—only long-term control medicines do that.

To help prevent an asthma attack, take quick-relief medicine when you first begin to feel asthma symptoms like coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath. Tell your doctor if you are using more quick-relief medicine than usual. The doctor may change or increase the amount of daily, long-term medicine you are taking to help control your asthma.

Asthma medicines are sold under many different names. The medicine can be pills, powders, liquids, sprays, or shots. Your doctor will choose the medicines that will work best for you. Always check regularly with your doctor to make sure that your asthma medicines are helping you control your asthma.


One of the quickest and safest ways to take your asthma medicine is to inhale it (breathing it in through your mouth and nose) using an inhaler or a nebulizer that makes the medicine go straight into your lungs where it is needed most. Always use and clean your inhaler or nebulizer as instructed by your doctor.

How to Use an Inhaler

Remove the cap and hold it upright.
Shake the inhaler.
Tilt your head back slightly and breathe out.
Press down on the inhaler to release the medicine as you start to breathe in slowly.
Hold your breath and count to 10.
Wait one minute and then repeat as directed by your doctor.
How to Use a Nebulizer

Measure the correct amount of medicine into the cup.
Turn on the air compressor machine.
Use the mouthpiece or mask and take in slow, deep breaths through the mouth.
Hold each breath and count to two before breathing out.
Keep breathing in the medicine until it is gone from the cup.
Peak flow meters

To help control your asthma, always check your lungs’ breathing ability with a peak flow meter. One of the first signs that you are at risk of an asthma attack is if the meter shows that the amount of air you can move in and out of your lungs is dropping.

Your doctor will tell you where to buy a peak flow meter and show you the right way to use it. Bring it to every doctor’s appointment.

How to Use a Peak Flow Meter

Stand up, if possible.
Take a deep breath, and then blow into the meter hard and fast.
Write down the number on your meter.
Do a peak flow meter test before and after taking your inhaled asthma medicine. The doctor will decide your “personal best” peak flow based on your height, age, and gender.

To know your peak flow levels, follow the traffic light system listed in the Lung Association Asthma Action Management Plan.

The Fourth Step…

Control your Asthma by knowing what To do in an Asthma Attack 


When you feel an attack coming, don’t get scared and panic.


Immediately take your quick-relief medicine to help you breathe easier and get your breathing back to normal.
Breathe in slowly through your nose.
Put your lips together like you’re going to whistle and then breathe out slowly through your mouth.
Take twice as long breathing out as you do breathing in.
If you feel dizzy, rest for a few moments.


Sit with your head slightly forward and with your feet flat on the floor.
Breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose.
Cough twice to loosen the mucus in your airways and to bring it up and then spit it out.
If necessary, call your doctor or go to the hospital.


If your asthma attack doesn’t get better after taking your medicine and relaxing your breathing, get medical help immediately.


Know your doctor’s name and phone number.
Call the doctor and describe your symptoms as best as you can.
Tell the doctor about the medicine you have taken, when and how much.
Listen carefully to the doctor’s instruction, which may include taking more medicine, drinking fluids, or continuing to do exercises that help you relax and breathe better.
If you call the office and can’t reach your doctor, ask for the doctor on call. If that doctor is not there, call 911.

If you keep your asthma under control, you should not be having asthma attacks. Tell your doctor if you keep having asthma attacks. The doctor may have to change your medicine or your asthma management plan.

The Fifth Step…

Control your Asthma by Asking Questions and Staying Informed



It’s your right to understand your asthma.
If you don’t like the way your doctor is treating your asthma, go to another doctor.
Tell the doctor your beliefs about your asthma. Not every doctor treats asthma the same way.
Some doctors use more medicine to keep lungs working normally others—others prefer to use less if you have mild symptoms.
Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor if you and your family have learned about difference ways to manage your asthma like using herbal medicines to control some symptoms. These tips may be a helpful part of your asthma management plan.

The Sixth Step…

Control your Asthma by Having a Support Team

Everyone with asthma needs support to help with his or her asthma management plan. Your family can help you:

Get rid of asthma triggers.
Identify signs that an asthma attack is starting.
Stick to your daily asthma management plan.
Get through an asthma attack if you can’t prevent it.

Your support team can include your:

School classmates
Day care workers

Tell them your asthma management plan so your support team can help you manage your asthma every day.

Remember you can…

Control Asthma and Celebrate Life! 

Managing asthma is easier with the help of your family, your doctor, and the people closest to you. Trying to “tough it out” with asthma can make the illness worse. Your goal is to not have asthma attacks and to control your asthma. Since there is no magic pill or vaccine to cure asthma, controlling it must be part of your daily routine.

When you control your asthma, you will:

Sleep without interruptions or problems.
NOT miss school or work.
Have an active life.
Rarely or never find the need for emergency doctor visits.
Rarely or never need hospitalization.
Have normal or near normal lung function (breathing).
Be satisfied with the asthma care you receive from your doctor.