6 Tips for Preventing Asthma Flare-Ups

  • woman using inhaler with doctor, asthma
    Be prepared for an asthma emergency.
    Asthma is a complicated medical illness. My goal as a doctor is to help my patients  become as good at managing their asthma as I am. While you are not a physician, there are many things that you can do to stay out of your doctor’s office, emergency room, or the hospital.
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    1. Have an asthma action plan.
    An asthma action plan is a roadmap to better asthma control. When designed properly, your action plan will have you routinely monitoring your asthma symptoms and taking steps before you develop significant problems. Make sure you understand (and that your action plan addresses) the early warning signs of an asthma attack, what medications you need to be using and the purpose of each one (e.g. prevention versus relief of acute symptoms), and when you need to head to the emergency department. If you don't have an asthma action plan, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss putting one together.
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    2. Take your medication regularly and correctly.
    Asthma is a complex disease, but large numbers of patients fail to regularly take their medication. Many also use incorrect techniques that decrease their medication’s effectiveness. Incorrect technique prevents medicine from reaching your lungs and can lead to increased side effects. Ask your doctor to review your inhaler technique or ask for a referral to an asthma educator who can go over your technique with you and provide appropriate education. If you have trouble remembering to take your medication, placing your inhaler next to the coffee maker or toothbrush is one way to remember. Putting a bright sticky note on the refrigerator or back door are other options to help you remember.
  • Quit Smoking
    3. Quit smoking.
    21% of asthmatics smoke. Smoking is a trigger that increases asthma symptoms and causes asthma attacks. While quitting is not easy, it is probably the single best thing you can do for your health – asthma or not. See your doctor to determine if you need help with nicotine replacement or if you need other medical conditions treated before you make a quit attempt.
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    4. Get a flu shot.
    Asthmatics are at increased risk of asthma attacks triggered by influenza and are more likely to suffer from flu complications compared to patients without asthma. The single best way to prevent flu from causing an asthma flare-up is getting a flu vaccine. Unfortunately, asthmatics cannot receive the nasal flu vaccine and need to get the flu shot.
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    5. Remember that asthma is individual.
    Everyone with asthma is different. You may have frequent attacks while others with asthma may go long periods of time between attacks. Over time you will be able to identify the symptoms (e.g. chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chronic cough) that are troublesome for you. These may be different for different people. Your action plan developed with your healthcare provider should reflect that individuality.
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    6. Understand your flare-ups to prevent them.
    Asthma flare-ups can be caused by several different things, from exposure to triggers to not taking your medication correctly. Make sure you think about and identify what is leading to your asthma symptoms so you can correct the problem or avoid the trigger.
Asthma | 6 Tips for Preventing Asthma Attacks

About The Author

Dr. Pat Bass III is chief medical information officer and an associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at LSU Health- Shreveport and University Hospital. View his Healthgrades profile >
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THIS CONTENT DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. This content is provided for informational purposes and reflects the opinions of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding your health. If you think you may have a medical emergency, contact your doctor immediately or call 911.