Management of asthma involves an active participation of the patient along with the doctor. It is done in a series of steps including:
The patient takes an active role and work in the following ways:
An asthma action plan is a routine chart that gives guidance on:
Initial treatment depends on the severity of asthma. Follow-up asthma treatment depends on how well asthma action plan is controlling the symptoms and preventing asthma attacks. Read about medical treatment of asthma.
Asthma control level can vary over time because of certain factors like changes in the home, school or work environments.
The patient along with doctor creates a personalized action plan for the patient. The plan describes the daily routine of the patient about asthma treatment, such as names of the medicines, dose and timing of the medicines etc.
The plan also explains when to call the doctor or go to the emergency room. For example, if a child is suffering from asthma, all the people around him should know about his asthma action plan. This includes babysitters and workers at daycare centers, schools, and camps. These people can help the child follow the action plan.
The patient needs to keep a track of asthma. It is done by:
The patient can record the symptoms in a diary to see how well the treatments are working. Asthma is in full control if:
If the above points are not true then asthma is not well controlled. In such cases, the doctor may need to change the overall asthma action plan.
Peak flow meter is a small handheld device. It shows how well air moves out of the lungs. The patient blows into the device and the peak flow number is recorded. The score or the peak flow number shows how well the lungs are working at the time of the test.
When the patient is first diagnosed with asthma, his score is recorded every day for approximately 20 days when asthma is under control. The personal best score is the highest score from the 20 days scores. This personal best is compared with the future score every time patient wishes to see whether his asthma is under control or not.
When the score shows that the breathing is getting worse, the doctor may advise the patient to take quick-relief medicines as directed by the asthma action plan. The peak flow meter can then be used to check the effect of the medicine.
In the beginning, the patient needs to see a doctor about every 2 to 6 weeks. But once the asthma is under control, the number of doctor visits may reduce to once a month to twice a year. During a doctor visit, the doctor may ask the patient about:
The doctor uses the above information to assess the level of asthma control. If the control is very good, the patient may be advised to take fewer medicine or the medicines with lower doses.
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