Do you have asthma? If so, you are not alone. About 20 million adults and 9 million children in the United States have asthma! Asthma is a chronic (long-lasting) condition. It can not be cured, but you can control your asthma if you take your medicine as ordered and avoid the things that cause your asthma to flare up. These things are called triggers. Before we talk about how to control your asthma, let’s review the causes of asthma.
Asthma is caused by inflammation in the airways or breathing tubes. During an asthma flare-up, the muscles surrounding
the airways get tight
and squeeze the airways. The tissues in the airways swell up, and make extra
mucus. These 3 events narrow the airways which means that air can’t pass in and
out as well as it normally does. Many, but not all people with asthma have wheezing
sounds in their chests during an asthma attack. Wheezing is caused by the sound
of air trying to pass through the narrowed airways.
Many things can trigger an asthma attack, but triggers are not the same for every person. It is important to figure out what triggers an asthma flare-up for you so that you can avoid these triggers.
Most people with asthma have symptoms off and on. They also have periods of time when they feel just fine. If your asthma only bothers you once in awhile, it’s easy to forget to take your medicine or avoid triggers. Even though you may not be feeling like you have asthma, the condition is still there.
Asthma attacks can last from a few minutes to several days. Some asthma attacks are mild; others may be severe. Always remember that asthma is a serious condition. Anyone with asthma can have a flare-up that is so serious that the person can die from lack of oxygen. Even if you have never had a severe flare-up, one can happen at any time. That’s why it’s important to follow your asthma action plan.
Everyone who has asthma should have an asthma action plan. This a written plan that you develop with your doctor or nurse practitioner that tells you what to do for your asthma if you feel well, have mild symptoms or severe symptoms. It is designed to help you take control of your asthma so it doesn't get in the way of going to school, playing sports, working out, going to parties, or doing whatever you want to do. Your asthma action plan will give you clear instructions so you can:
At the School Based Health Center at Proviso East, our doctors and nurse practitioners will work with you to develop an asthma action plan. When you come in for a visit, you will be asked to fill out an Asthma Control Test or ACT. This is a questionnaire that will help us see how well controlled your asthma is and if any changes in the asthma action plan are needed.