Asthma is a respiratory condition marked by blocked airways, in its most basic explanation. The condition is often connected to allergies or other forms of hypersensitivities.
While medical sciences have made progress in certain approaches that treat the root cause of some type of asthma, severe asthma still continue to lower the quality of life for many.
Dr. Praveen Akuthota is a board certified-pulmonologist and an associate clinical professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine, where his research focuses on eosinophils and inflammation. He discusses five top tips for dealing with asthma.
Find the right pulmonologist.
Any doctor won’t just do, find the right specialist to handle your case of severe asthma as each case is different. A pulmonologist (specialist in lung conditions) who is interested in your life and sees you as a person, not just another source of income is a good choice. Trust between doctor and patient can make the process a lot easier and patient even more responsive. Invest time in finding a right pulmonologist.
Avoid triggers as much as possible.
Most common triggers for severe asthma attacks are pollen, cockroaches, molds, animal dander, or even hot or cold weather. Know yours. Work with your pulmonologist to narrow down the culprits until you find what riles yours up. Then do your best to avoid them.
Keep ‘stepping up’ treatments until you find a combination that works.
Not every strain of asthma is the same and so, treatments would inevitably vary. You may have used a rescue inhaler, a steroid inhaler, a long-acting inhaler or other allergy medications and still have a hard time getting control of your asthma symptoms. Don’t give up. Something is bound to work, but you must continue working with your doctor to find the right treatment mix that works for you. Dr. Praveen checks to see how high a patient’s eosinophil count is—eosinophils are white blood cells that contribute to inflammation in some cases of severe asthma. If you have eosinophilic asthma, new treatments that block eosinophils will likely help you get control of your asthma
Make sure you’re using proper inhaler technique.
Sometimes when patients complain their treatment isn’t working, it may be because they aren’t using their inhalers the right way. When you use your inhaler the wrong way, less medicine gets to the lungs. Ask advice from your doctor if you are having trouble with the inhaler technique. Also use helpful videos online that demonstrate proper inhaler use techniques. Dr. Praveen encourages patients to use a spacer device connected to the inhaler, as it helps them inhale the appropriate amount of medicine
Take Ownership of your condition
Be present and proactive in the management of your asthma condition. You are the first caregiver, be that. Track how often you need to use your rescue inhaler and report that back to your physician. If your severe asthma symptoms worsen, record your symptoms in a diary so you and your physician can determine the best steps forward. Communicate openly and honestly with your doctor about your condition so the best treatment option is always chosen.