Living with asthma? Self-management helps

Asthma, if uncontrolled, can have serious consequences. However, knowledge can empower those living with asthma to take more control of the condition and improve their quality of life.

Asthma is a lung disease that makes breathing difficult for over 24 million Americans. While there is no cure, proper management can help those that live with asthma lead a normal, healthy life.

Education plays a key role in making this happen. Here are few important questions and answers about asthma self-management education from the American Lung Association:

1. What is asthma self-management?

The best medicines and best healthcare providers in the world can only do so much to help you manage your asthma if you are not also doing your part. For this reason, self-management is essential. “Self-management” refers to the things you can do for yourself to keep your asthma in control, have fewer asthma symptoms and better enjoy life. Here are seven major steps to asthma self-management:

• Understanding asthma and breathing.

• Talking with your healthcare providers.

• Learning about and how to use your asthma medicines.

• Making changes in your life to prevent asthma problems.

• Knowing your asthma symptoms and keeping track of them.

• Checking your airways with a peak flow meter.

• Knowing what to do when your asthma is out of control.

2. What are the benefits of participating in an asthma self-management programme?

Completing an asthma self-management education programme can improve your knowledge about your specific type of asthma. It can also help you feel more confident in monitoring your symptoms, working with your healthcare providers, and in using your asthma medicines correctly. These programmes can also improve your ability to avoid or reduce exposure to your asthma triggers. All this can potentially result in fewer symptoms, asthma flare-ups, missed work or school days and emergency department or urgent care visits, for an overall improved quality of life.

3. What skills will I learn?

Asthma self-management education programmes cover the basics about asthma and how it affects the body, as well as give participants the ability to use tools to monitor symptoms and take medicines properly. Participants also develop problem-solving skills for when asthma symptoms worsen and learn how to make lifestyle changes to avoid asthma triggers, including stress management, staying active with exercise and avoiding tobacco smoke. Through these programmes, participants develop self-advocacy and communication skills for working with healthcare providers.-BPT