The best way to manage any disease is to get educated and know as much as possible about that condition- from causes and triggers to drugs and other therapies available. When it comes to asthma, education is perhaps even more important.
Allergy specialist Dr.Frank Twarog, MD, Ph.D. says it best: asthma attacks are only the tip of the iceberg. Many people with asthma and even doctors focus on the flare-ups of asthma as if it is an episodic problem. The truth is, asthma is a chronic condition. Symptoms change over time. Treatment should be closely monitored by a doctor and adjusted as needed.
Researchers believe that simple educational interventions are an essential part of the treatment plan. Many people do not get enough control of the symptoms, affecting their quality of life and making them more likely to require hospital care.
For best results, individuals with asthma need to understand the nature of the disease, how to control it, the basic principles of the treatment, what is specifically needed in their own case, how to explain to others, and essential self-management skills. Unfortunately, self-management asthma education is not enough provided, and there are a few factors that contribute to this. Many people do not have the motivation to attend education programs, although they are available at no or very little cost. Secondly, the doctor may not emphasize enough the importance of education and self-management skills. Thirdly, there may be a shortage of trained educators, too.
Asthma Awareness Is Needed At Any Age, In Various Settings.
A child with asthma needs to understand and help others understand this condition. When they need to explain to the gym teacher why they can’t participate in gym class, they need to use rescue inhalers. Teachers also have to know the signs and symptoms of an acute episode and how to help a child during this time. Children also have to explain to their friends why they may not be able to join when playing certain sports or why they need to avoid cold, dry air or spending time outdoors due to high pollen counts.
For adults with asthma, the workplace can be quite challenging. They need to explain to their coworkers and bosses why they are unable to work, or why they need to avoid strong perfumes and devices that produce excess odors, fumes, or dust. In relationships, the partner also needs to understand the symptoms and how an acute attack is managed, in order to help.
Taking a proactive role to understand asthma is essential. Do not wait to have your healthcare professional send you to an asthma education program. Do your own research in your area if you want to attend in person or check online programs here, at AAFA.org. There are special programs for patients and caregivers, for healthcare professionals, and awareness programs that have Facebook groups. Click here to view the current awareness campaigns. You can also call 1.800.7.ASTHMA (1.800.727.8462). This is a free number where you can order various programs and material from Monday to Friday 10 between 10 AM and 3 PM EST.
Know Your Asthma Action Plan. In And Out
A healthcare professional develops an asthma action plan (AAP), in collaboration with the patient and this plan is completed before he or she is discharged from the hospital. The AAP has to include specific information including triggers and symptoms. The symptoms are labeled in green, yellow, and red zones and the color indicates their severity of them. The controller asthma drugs are indicated in the green zone to help control the symptoms. The rescue drugs (relievers) along with the dosage are prescribed for yellow and red zones based on the severity of the symptoms. Make sure you understand everything included in this plan and ask any questions you may have. There is a follow-up appointment after you leave the hospital within a few days when you can ask for more details if you need to. For children, there will be special directions about how to use the rescue inhaler in case of an asthma attack. The school nurses and parents or caregivers are also trained to ensure the treatment is provided quickly and effectively when needed.
If you change the inhaler and it is a new model, you also need to learn how to use it properly.
Your health is your top priority. Make a habit to spend a few hours every single week to learn more about asthma and healthy living, and mark that time in your calendar. Check here for a list of podcasts on asthma, allergies, and other related topics. Some are about success stories, how to overcome symptoms and stay positive. For medical advice on how to manage asthma, listen to healthcare professionals and lung specialists to get accurate information. Thanks to the internet and media, we never have more information available than ever before. Use these tools.