Keep Your Asthma Under Control: New Federal Asthma Guidelines
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2005, an estimated 22.2 million people had asthma. This is 7.7% of the population in the United States. The most alarming statistic is that in 2003, 4,055 people died from asthma.
Federal asthma guidelines were created for health professionals. These tools are meant to help patients with asthma get good care.
On August 28, 2007, the guidelines were updated. The following are important highlights:
- Patients should control their asthma.
- Take your medications regularly as indicated by your doctor.
- Use your inhaler correctly every time.
- Control things that make your asthma worse.
- Patients need to know how to monitor asthma regularly.
- Monitor your signs and symptoms.
- Understand the signs of worsening asthma.
Controlling your asthma
1. Take your medications regularly:
One way to control asthma is by taking medications regularly. Two main types of medications are used by asthmatics. The two types are maintenance and rescue medications.
Maintenance medications can be inhalers or pills. They help prevent attacks. However, they do not relieve symptoms. Maintenance medications help prevent asthma attacks.
Rescue medications are usually inhalers. Rescue inhalers are used only when quick relief is needed. Typically this is when you are having an asthma attack.
2. Use your inhaler correctly:
An estimated 28-68% of people do not use their inhalers correctly. As a result the medication does not get into the lungs. As a result it does not provide any benefit. Make sure you know how to use your inhaler before you leave the pharmacy. Please note that not all inhalers are the same.
Here are some federal guideline tips on how to use a metered dose inhaler:
FIGURE 5 – 7 B. Emergency Department—Asthma Discharge Plan: How To Use Your Metered-Dose Inhaler from Expert Panel Report 2 Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma: Clinical Practice Guidelines. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 1997; NIH Publication No. 97-4051.
3. Control things that make your asthma worse Ask your doctor to help you find out what makes your asthma worse. Avoiding these triggers will help you prevent asthma attacks. The following tips can help you avoid common triggers in your home:
- If you see mold, clean it up with soap and water
- Use exhaust fans or open a window in the bathroom when showering
- Use exhaust fans or open a window in the kitchen when cooking
- Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water as soon as possible
- Wash bed sheets and blankets once a week
- Make sue bed sheets and blankets dry completely
- Vacuum carpets, rugs and furniture often
- Wash stuffed toys
- Don’t smoke in your home or car
- Don’t let anyone smoke near your child
- Keep counters, sinks, tables, and floors clean to avoid cockroaches
- Clean dishes, crumbs, and spills
- Store food in airtight containers
- Cover trashcans
Cats and Dogs
- Keep pets outside if possible
- If you have a pet inside, keep them out of the bedroom and off the furniture
- Vacuum carpets and furniture often
Monitoring Your Ashtma
1) Watch out for signs and symptoms of asthma. If you have asthma you may experience the following:
- Tight chest
- Shortness of breath
- Waking up at night with asthma symptoms
- Decreased ability to do usual activities
If you notice any of the symptoms listed above you need to:
- Continue taking your maintenance medication (if prescribed)
- Use your rescue medication to relieve the symptoms
- If possible remove yourself from the thing that made your asthma worse
2) Understand the signs and symptoms of worsening asthma. You may experience the following if your asthma is worsening:
- It’s getting harder and harder to breath
- Unable to sleep or do usual activities because of trouble breathing
- Rescue medication does not help
- Symptoms are the same or get worse after 24 hours
If you notice any of the above you need to use your rescue medication as discussed with your doctor for these symptoms. You also need to get help immediately and call your doctor.
It is extremely dangerous if you experience any of the following:
- Trouble walking or talking due to shortness of breath
- Lips or fingernails are blue
If you notice any of the symptoms listed above call 911. These are signs that you are having a severe exacerbation. You require immediate medical attention.
These are only a few of the important tips from the federal asthma guidelines. In order to take full control of your asthma talk to your doctor today. Ask your doctor about what additional things you can do to keep your asthma under control.
Carla S. Cabanilla, PharmD Candidate 2008 University of Maryland Prepared during Consumer Health Information Corporation Clerkship McLean, VA
© 2007 Consumer Health Information Corporation. All rights reserved.