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Living With Asthma

If you have asthma, you’ll need long-term care. Successful asthma treatment requires that you take an active role in your care and follow your asthma action plan.

Learn How To Manage Your Asthma

Partner with your doctor to develop an asthma action plan. This plan will help you know when and how to take your medicines. The plan also will help you identify your asthma triggers and manage your disease if asthma symptoms worsen.

Children aged 10 or older—and younger children who can handle it—should be involved in creating and following their asthma action plans. For a sample plan, go to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's "Asthma Action Plan."

Most people who have asthma can successfully manage their symptoms by following their asthma action plans and having regular checkups. However, knowing when to seek emergency medical care is important.

Learn how to use your medicines correctly. If you take inhaled medicines, you should practice using your inhaler at your doctor's office. If you take long-term control medicines, take them daily as your doctor prescribes.

Record your asthma symptoms as a way to track how well your asthma is controlled. Also, your doctor may advise you to use a peak flow meter to measure and record how well your lungs are working.

Your doctor may ask you to keep records of your symptoms or peak flow results daily for a couple of weeks before an office visit. You'll bring these records with you to the visit. (For more information about using a peak flow meter, go to "How Is Asthma Treated and Controlled?")

These steps will help you keep track of how well you're controlling your asthma over time. This will help you spot problems early and prevent or relieve asthma attacks. Recording your symptoms and peak flow results to share with your doctor also will help him or her decide whether to adjust your treatment.

Ongoing Care

Have regular asthma checkups with your doctor so he or she can assess your level of asthma control and adjust your treatment as needed. Remember, the main goal of asthma treatment is to achieve the best control of your asthma using the least amount of medicine. This may require frequent adjustments to your treatments.

If you find it hard to follow your asthma action plan or the plan isn't working well, let your health care team know right away. They will work with you to adjust your plan to better suit your needs.

Get treatment for any other conditions that can interfere with your asthma management.

Watch for Signs That Your Asthma Is Getting Worse

Your asthma might be getting worse if:

  • Your symptoms start to occur more often, are more severe, or bother you at night and cause you to lose sleep.
  • You're limiting your normal activities and missing school or work because of your asthma.
  • Your peak flow number is low compared to your personal best or varies a lot from day to day.
  • Your asthma medicines don't seem to work well anymore.
  • You have to use your quick-relief inhaler more often. If you're using quick-relief medicine more than 2 days a week, your asthma isn't well controlled.
  • You have to go to the emergency room or doctor because of an asthma attack.

If you have any of these signs, see your doctor. He or she might need to change your medicines or take other steps to control your asthma.

Partner with your health care team and take an active role in your care. This can help you better control your asthma so it doesn't interfere with your activities and disrupt your life.

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Asthma Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Asthma, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.

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Asthma in the News

February 11, 2014
NIH study seeks to improve asthma therapy for African-Americans
Researchers will enroll around 500 African-American children and adults who have asthma in a multi-center clinical trial to assess how they react to therapies and to explore the role of genetics in determining the response to asthma treatment. This new clinical study, which will take place at 30 sites in 14 states, is aimed at understanding the best approach to asthma management in African-Americans.

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June 15, 2012 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.

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