Asthma can not be cured, but with the avoidance of triggers, proper monitoring and the correct treatment it can be controlled, allowing you to do the things that you want to do.
Identifying and, if possible, avoiding the things that trigger an asthma attack will help reduce the number of attacks. For example, if cigarette smoke or animal fur triggers an attack, avoiding smoky places or contact with the animal will reduce the chance of an asthma attack. If you are sensitive to aspirin, get into the habit of reading the labels on medicines and remember that aspirin and aspirin-type products may be described in different ways. If in doubt, talk to your pharmacist before buying any over the counter medicines to relieve pain, or cold and flu symptoms.
Unless specific foods are known to make your asthma symptoms worse, there is no need to have a special diet. Just eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables and keep your weight under control.
Exercise regularly, aim for 30 minutes of active exercise five times per week, doing an exercise that you enjoy doing. Take it easy at first and build up your activity levels gradually. Use your reliever before starting to exercise if you know that exercise triggers your asthma, and keep your reliever with you. If symptoms start, stop exercising, use your reliever and rest until your symptoms go.
Get to know your symptoms. It will help you recognise how well your asthma is being controlled. A simple device called a peak flow meter can be used to help measure how well the lungs are working. When used regularly and the results recorded in a diary, a peak flow meter can help give an advance warning of worsening symptoms of asthma.
Use your medicines as your doctor or asthma specialist nurse advises and you will be playing your part in successfully managing your asthma. Tell your doctor or nurse about any changes in your symptoms or your use of medicines. For example, if you are using your reliever inhaler more than once a day, if you are coughing or wheezing regularly, waking up at night or just not able to do things that you could before your asthma, then it may just mean that your asthma is not as well controlled as it might be.
The goals of asthma management are listed below. Ask yourself if you are achieving them, if not see your doctor or nurse.
Goals of asthma treatment:
- Be free from symptoms day and night
- Restore normal or best possible lung function, and maintain it
- Reduce the risk of severe attacks
- Minimise absence from school or work