With proper care and treatment, people with asthma can be just as healthy as anyone else. In fact, the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program states that the overall goals of asthma care should be to:
- Prevent chronic and troublesome symptoms
- Maintain normal or near normal pulmonary function
- Maintain normal activity levels, including exercise and other physical activity
- Prevent recurrent exacerbations of asthma and minimize the need for emergency department visits or hospitalizations
- Provide optimal pharmacotherapy with minimal or no adverse effects
- Meet patients’ and families’ expectations of and satisfaction with asthma care
The best way to achieve these goals is to work with your doctor and respiratory therapist to achieve long-term control of your asthma with proper medications and reduce your exposure to the things that trigger your asthma symptoms. That means keeping appointments for regular check-ups, refilling prescriptions on time, taking medications exactly as prescribed and even when you feel well, and learning what things trigger your asthma symptoms and then taking active steps to remove them from your environment.
Your doctor may assist you in these efforts by providing a written Asthma Action Plan that outlines the steps you should take depending on the symptoms you are experiencing, and you may also receive a device called a peak flow meter to help you monitor your level of airflow obstruction at home on a regular basis. You may also receive special instruction in the use of your metered dose inhaler, if one is prescribed, to ensure you get the most benefit from your medication.
Your respiratory therapist can help you understand how to use these tools, and can provide you with ongoing guidance regarding your overall asthma care plan.