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How to get a handle on your inhaler

You most likely heard about asthma before and probably even know someone who has it, if you aren’t already dealing with it yourself. Asthma is a disease that makes your airways red, swollen and inflamed. This causes your airways to become narrow, making it hard to breathe.

Asthma can become dangerous if it isn’t managed properly (after all, you have to breathe!). The good news is that it can be controlled. Here are some things you can do to help take care of your asthma:

  1. Learn exactly what your medications do. Some are to be taken every day to help control asthma while others are only used during a flare-up. Be sure you know the differences between each one.
  2. Take your controller medications every day. These medications help lessen the inflammation and prevent flare-ups. You should take them every single day, even if you feel okay.
  3. Take your rescue medications if you start having symptoms. These make it easier for your airways to open up so you can breathe better.
  4. Use a spacer with your Metered-Dose Inhaler (MDI). It helps all the medicine get to your lungs, and not just sit in the back of your mouth.
  5. Learn what your triggers are, and work to avoid them! Some common triggers are dust, mold, pollen, cats, dogs, tobacco smoke, fireplace smoke, cold air, hot air, household cleaners, paint fumes, perfume, crying, laughing, exercise or certain medications.
  6. Use your peak flow meter. This helps measure how open your airways are and could warn you of a flare-up even before you have any symptoms.  It also helps set your Asthma Action Plan.
  7. Follow your Asthma Action Plan. This is a written plan that will help you know what to do in certain situations. If you don’t have an Asthma Action Plan, ask your health care provider for one. Remember that you’ll want to always stay in the green zone, but if you enter the yellow zone at all, take action so you can avoid the red zone.
  8. Be an active member of your health care team. Work closely with your providers, ask questions and learn as much as you can in order to help best manage your asthma!

Take this asthma control test to see if your Asthma Action plan is working for you.

About Kari Andrews, RN specialist

Kari has been a nurse for seven years, working all over the country in a variety of nursing roles. While she has enjoyed being a travel nurse in the past, working with pediatrics, orthopedics, etc., she said that being an RN specialist at the Affinity Medical Home- Koeller Street location for the past year has been the most rewarding job yet. She loves being able to help her patients manage their chronic diseases and has seen solid evidence that each of these conditions can be improved for people.

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