Today there are effective asthma treatments available, and having the disease does not mean that you are sentenced to a reduced quality of life. On the contrary, if you have asthma you should be able to exercise, dance, be outdoors, sleep all night and spend time with your family and friends as usual without having to worry about your problems. But before the asthma treatment can begin, your asthma symptoms have to be thoroughly assessed so that you may get your diagnosis. Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you think you might have asthma – the sooner you start your treatment, the smaller the risk is of permanently damaged airways.
Asthma examination is performed by your doctor who will first give you a physical examination and ask you some questions about your symptoms. Give a detailed description of your symptoms for example, if they deteriorate during certain times of the year, at certain places, or at night. Also tell the doctor whether or not you smoke or own a pet, what your home or work environment is like and if there is asthma in your family. Then you will most likely test your maximum exhalation flow by exhaling into a peak flow meter or spirometry can be performed. A spirometer is capable of measuring lung function and gives more detailed information than the peak flow meter. The benefit of a peak flow meter is that it is easily used, and that you can bring it home with you to continue measuring the results during a longer period of time. If the doctor suspects that allergies are causing the asthma, a skin prick test or blood test may be performed in order to test your sensitivity to different allergens such as pollen, dust mites, pets and different foods. It may also be necessary to do an exercise or an airway hypersensitivity test where you will inhale an irritating substance. Regardless of which test the doctor decides to do, it may be good to know that asthma examinations do not hurt and are not unpleasant.
Using the results from the tests the doctor will be able to decide on a treatment plan for you. As a rule, asthma is treated with two different kinds of medicines: anti-inflammatory medicines to inhibit the underlying disease of the airways, and bronchodilating medicines used for acute problems. Bronchodilating medicines relax the muscles of the lungs and widen the airways. Mostly the asthma medication is taken via an asthma inhaler. Discuss with a doctor what kind of medications will suite your life situation best and make sure that you follow your doctor’s instructions.
You should consult your doctor if your asthma treatment goals are not being met. Do not accept having to live your daily life with symptoms of asthma, even if they are mild. It may mean that your asthma is not well controlled and that your treatment needs adjustment. It may be as simple as your inhaler is not specifically suited for your needs. Never accept feeling unsure of how to use your inhaler.
Treating asthma is not just about regular intake of the preventive medication that your doctor has prescribed. There are many things that you can do yourself in order to avoid mild problems as well as severe asthma attacks. First of all, learn about what substances or circumstances trigger your asthma symptoms and how to avoid them. The so-called triggering factors may vary depending on whether you have allergic asthma or non-allergic asthma. And take care of your health. Regardless of what type of asthma you suffer from you should not smoke and preferably avoid tobacco smoke completely if you can. It is a good idea for you to exercise and keep in shape, since being overweight can make the asthma worse. The fitter you are, the less your asthma will bother you. Just do not forget to warm up first, that way you will be capable of doing more
UK/GEN/15/0055f Date of preparation: December 2015