Asthma symptoms tend to vary over time, and every now and then your asthma symptoms can flare up. During a flare-up, also called an exacerbation, your asthma symptoms get worse, leading to symptoms such as shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, wheezing, and coughing.
How do I know whether my asthma is in control?
Is your asthma really under control? Take the asthma control quiz! Ask yourself:
- Do you have asthma symptoms on 4 or more days of the week?
- Do you wake up during the night with asthma symptoms on one or more night(s) per week?
- Does your asthma stop or hinder you from doing certain physical activities?
- Does your asthma get worse from time to time?
- Have you recently missed work or school because of your asthma?
- Do you take your “reliever” medication 4 or more times per week (not including one puff per day before exercise)?
- Is your PEF (peak expiratory flow, a breathing test you can do at home with a device called a peak flow meter) less than 90% of your personal best?
- Have you gone to the emergency room or made an unscheduled doctor’s visit because of asthma symptoms in the past year?
If you answered “yes” or “I don’t know” to any of these questions, your asthma may be out of control. There are things you can do to help get your asthma under control and manage worsening asthma symptoms. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about ways to improve your asthma control, and what to do when your asthma gets worse.
Ask Your Pharmacist
Q: Why do asthma flare-ups occur?
A: Researchers believe it’s due to the way the disease affects the airways (breathing tubes). People with asthma have narrower-than-average airways because the airways are inflamed and swollen, and may be clogged with mucus. On top of this, their airways can be extra sensitive to certain “triggers,” such as cold air or cigarette smoke. When people with asthma are exposed to a trigger, their airways tighten up even further, which can make it harder to breathe. The airway swelling combined with the triggers can lead to an asthma flare-up.
Do you have a question? Don’t hesitate to ask your Live Well Pharmacist.
Avoiding your asthma triggers is one of the ways to help manage asthma. Common triggers include cigarette smoke, cold air, dust, pollen, and exercise. If you’re not sure of your asthma triggers, try to identify them by taking note of things that were happening around the times that your asthma flared up.
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