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Adult Asthma Prevention and Control

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic condition that restricts the lungs’ passageways, making it hard to breathe.  The disease often begins in childhood, but many people don’t experience their first asthma attack until adulthood.  There is no cure for asthma, but with proper management, adults can live well and enjoy all kinds of activities.

What are the symptoms of asthma?

Signs of asthma include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • A tight feeling in the chest
  • Wheezing
  • Feeling tired
  • Trouble breathing when air is cold or humid
  • Trouble sleeping through the night

What happens during an asthma attack? How will I know when it’s an emergency?

An episode of asthma is caused by a “trigger,” such as pollen in the air.  The lining of the lungs reacts to the trigger and begins to swell.  Air that would normally be pushed out during regular breathing is limited, and the airways get tighter.  Extra mucus starts to form.  Then you begin to cough and wheeze without getting enough fresh air into the lungs. 

Asthma attacks can be mild to severe and even life threatening if you do not get relief.  If you experience a severe episode – where you feel as though you cannot get enough air, or your fingernails and lips turn blue, call 9-1-1 or go to your closest emergency room immediately!

What can trigger an asthma episode?

Many factors can trigger an asthma episode:

  • Tobacco smoke (including second-hand smoke)
  • Pet hair
  • Cockroaches and rodents
  • Mold
  • Pollen from flowers and trees
  • Dust mites
  • Colds or the flu
  • Stress
  • Exposure to chemical smells
  • Poor nutrition, obesity
  • Lack of exercise – however, exercise can at times be a trigger, so talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program

How can I control my asthma? 

The best way to prevent or reduce an attack is to know your triggers.  Besides avoiding triggers, control your asthma by:

  • Taking your medicine as prescribed by your doctor
  • Getting a flu shot every year
  • Keeping all your doctor appointments 

Talk to your doctor about having a personal asthma action plan.  It will include how much medicine to take and when to take it, based on the way you’re feeling.  It’s important to take this medicine as prescribed.  Share your asthma action plan with family members and people you spend time with, in case they need to help you during a serious asthma episode.

Can prescribed use of inhalers help control my asthma?

Yes. It’s best to use an inhaler that has a holding chamber or spacer.  These attach to the inhaler mouthpiece and help the medication get to the lungs most directly.  Your doctor or nurse can show you how to use yours most effectively.

What is a nebulizer?

Nebulizers turn medications into a mist that can be breathed in through a mask or mouthpiece. If your asthma symptoms prevent you from taking in enough medicine through your inhaler, your doctor may prescribe a nebulizer.

How can Health Partners help me?

Health Partners’ Healthier YOU Asthma program is available to all Health Partners members with asthma. 

Our care managers will work closely with you to help address your medical concerns, answer any questions and provide you with the support and encouragement that you need to manage your asthma.  Call our Healthier YOU helpline at 1-866-500-4571 (TTY users can call 711).

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