5 steps to better asthma control

5 steps to better asthma control

April 23, 2017, 12:44 p.m.

Effective asthma treatment requires routine tracking of symptoms and compliance to asthma medication. Taking effort in managing your asthma treatment will help you maintain better asthma control, prevent asthma attacks and avoid long-term problems.

Follow this 5 steps to keep asthma symptoms under control and prevent asthma attacks.


1. Having an asthma diary:

Write down your symptoms in an asthma diary each day. Recording symptoms can help you and your doctor to recognize when you need to make treatment adjustments to your asthma action plan. Record when you have:

  1. Shortness of breath or wheezing sound.
  2. Disturbed sleep caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing.
  3. Chest tightness or pain.
  4. Used your quick-relief (rescue) inhaler — (Blue/Ventolin/salbutamol), and write down how many puffs you take.
  5. Disruptions to work, school, exercise or other day-to-day activities due to asthma.
  6. Asthma symptoms during exercise.
  7. Any other allergic symptoms such as sneezing and runny nose.
  8. Anything that seems to trigger asthma flare-ups.


2. Avoid your triggers:

Taking steps to reduce your exposure asthma triggers is a key part of asthma control. This includes:

  1. Prevent mold spores. Clean damp areas in the bath, kitchen and around the house to keep mold spores from developing.
  2. Reduce pet dander. If you're allergic to dander, avoid pets with fur or feathers.
  3. Minimize dust/dust mite. - Encase pillows, mattresses and box springs in dustproof covers. Avoid using carpet at home. Use washable curtains and blinds.
  4. Clean regularly. Clean your home at least once a week. If you're likely to stir up dust, wear a mask or have someone else do the cleaning.
  5. Cover your nose and mouth if it's cold or dusty (haze) outside.
  6. Use your air conditioner. Air conditioning reduces the amount of airborne pollen from trees, grasses and weeds that finds its way indoors. Air conditioning also lowers indoor humidity and can reduce your exposure to dust mites
  7. Stop or avoid smoking (including second hand smoking)


3. Having an asthma action plan

An asthma action plan should be made between you and your doctor as you may need to adjust your medications according to your symptoms frequency and severity. Your written asthma action plan will let you know exactly when and how to make adjustments.

There are two main types of medications used to treat asthma:

  1. Long-term control medications such as inhaled corticosteroids (E.g. Becloasthma, Seretide, Symbicort) are the most important medications used to keep asthma under control. These preventive medications treat the airway inflammation that leads to asthma symptoms. Used on a daily basis, these medications can reduce or stop asthma flare-ups.
  2. Quick-relief inhalers (Rescue inhaler or Ventolin) contain a fast-acting medication – salbutamol. They're used as needed to quickly open your airways and make breathing easier.

Knowing when to use these medications can help prevent an impending asthma attack.

If you frequently use a quick-relief inhaler to treat symptoms, your asthma isn't under control. Follow your asthma action plan which will usually advise you to start or increase your long-term control medication dosage for few days to weeks before dropping back to your usual dose. This is common when a patient has a flu/common cold or during pollen seasons. And if you are still not better please see your doctor about making treatment changes.


4. Work with your doctor

Asthma symptoms and severity are always changing. Meet with your doctor regularly to review your treatment. Take your asthma diary and action plan with you so that you can review them with your doctor and make any needed changes to your treatment plan.

Here are some reasons why you might need to adjust your medications:

  1. If your asthma is not well controlled (still having asthma symptoms) even though you're following your plan, we might need to increase or change your medications.
  2. If your asthma is well-controlled, we might be able to reduce the medication.
  3. If you are having side effect (although rare) or not use to one of the medication, we might need to change the medication also.


5. Stay healthy

Taking care of yourself can help keep your symptoms under control, including:

  1. Get regular exercise. Regular exercise can strengthen your heart and lungs, which helps relieve asthma symptoms.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can worsen asthma symptoms, and it puts you at higher risk of other health problems.


(Dr Lee Chong Han)

(The article is provided only for medical  education purposes. It is by no mean to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. These are medical procedures performed by medical professional and should not be performed in a non-medical setting. Please contact your own physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical condition.)