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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Asthma is a lung disease that makes breathing difficult. Chronic inflammation and reactions to triggers narrow the airways in the lungs. Asthma can become life-threatening if it is not managed.
Seek care immediately if:
- You have severe shortness of breath.
- Your lips or nails turn blue or gray.
- The skin around your neck and ribs pulls in with each breath.
- You have shortness of breath, even after you take your short-term medicine as directed.
- Your peak flow numbers are in the red zone of your AAP.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You run out of medicine before your next refill is due.
- Your symptoms get worse.
- You need to take more medicine than usual to control your symptoms.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines decrease inflammation, open airways, and make it easier to breathe. Medicines may be inhaled, taken as a pill, or injected. Short-term medicines relieve your symptoms quickly. Long-term medicines are used to prevent future attacks. You may also need medicine to help control your allergies. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about the medicine you are given and how to take it safely.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You will need to return to make sure your medicine is working and your symptoms are controlled. You may be referred to an asthma specialist. You may be asked to keep a record of your peak flow values and bring it with you to your appointments. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them.
Manage your symptoms and prevent future attacks:
- Follow your Asthma Action Plan (AAP). This is a written plan that you and your healthcare provider create. It explains which medicine you need and when to change doses if necessary. It also explains how you can monitor symptoms and use a peak flow meter. The meter measures how well your lungs are working.
- Manage other health conditions , such as allergies, acid reflux, and sleep apnea.
- Identify and avoid triggers. These may include pets, dust mites, mold, and cockroaches.
- Do not smoke or be around others who smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Ask about the flu vaccine. The flu can make your asthma worse. You may need a yearly flu shot.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.