One of the most important aspects of being in control of your condition is knowing what to do when you have an attack.
Having an asthma attack – the 5-step rule
Asthma symptoms could be developing over a few days, having an attack could happen very quickly. Therefore it is important not to ignore any symptoms to keep your asthma under control.3, 5, 8
Because an asthma attack can be frightening, you must take immediate action. Don’t be scared to create a fuss, no matter what time of the day or night. Follow these 5 steps immediately, or follow the instructions in your action plan on which medication to take and how much:5
Take the amount of puffs of reliever inhaler as recommended by your HCP
Sit up & stay calm
Take slow breaths
If there is no improvement, use your reliever inhaler again as recommended by your HCP
Call an emergency number or an ambulance if your symptoms do not improve after 10 minutes or if you are worried.
Repeat step 4 if the ambulance does not arrive in 10 minutes.
Use a Spacer if possible
If you’re having an attack, don’t lie down and don’t let anyone put their arms around you
Avoidance of Triggers
We mentioned in the “Triggers” section the various possible elements that could trigger an asthma attack. Unfortunately, not all of these triggers are avoidable.
Tobacco smoke is both a cause as well as an asthma trigger, which is why it’s very important to avoid. Exposure to second-hand smoke increases your risk of hospitalisation and poor control of asthma. Active smoking makes asthma control very difficult, as it’s linked to a higher risk of hospital admissions and death from asthma. It also reduces the effectiveness of inhaled and oral corticosteroids, used as controller medication.1
Indoor allergens such a mould, fungi, dust mites and pets are difficult to avoid. Therefore it’s recommended to control exposure to these as it may reduce symptoms. Using heating and cooking methods that do not pollute the air with smoke also help control symptoms.1
When your asthma is mostly triggered by outdoor triggers, such as pollen, cold air or air pollution, it may help to close windows and doors, remain indoors and using air-conditioning during times when pollen counts are high.1
Not all people that suffer from asthma may be sensitive to the medications known to possibly trigger an attack. If you have a history of medication-induced asthma, make sure to read medication labels carefully, and always tell a doctor of your asthma before medication is prescribed for you.1
Exercise, weight control and asthma
Although exercise may be a trigger of asthma for some people, it is also an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It is possible to exercise responsibly and keep asthma under control, so speak to your doctor about which exercise is best for your condition and how often you need to exercise to stay healthy and controlled.
Keeping a healthy weight is also very important, as being overweight makes it very difficult to keep asthma under control. For people that are already overweight, losing even just 5-10% of weight can already help with managing your asthma. Combining exercise at least twice a week with a weight-reduction plan is even more effective.1, 3
When we feel fine and do not have any symptoms, we tend to think we are not sick anymore. So it is important to visit your doctor 2 or 3 times a year for check-ups, even when you feel fine.
Remember to take your Asthma Diary, Asthma Control Test and your Asthma Plan with you. Your doctor will look at how well your asthma has been controlled and may make some changes to your medication or Asthma Action Plan.
It’s very important to make sure you ask questions and tell your doctor about any problems you may have had with your medication, side effects or new symptoms you experienced.