A short walk in nature and taking a deep few deep breaths of clean fresh air are two of life’s simple pleasures that many enjoy experiencing. However, for those that suffer from asthma, these simple pleasures can lead to breathing difficulties and chest tightening.

Asthma is the inflammation and narrowing of a person’s airways that can result in the production of extra mucus and makes it difficult for the affected to breathe. The general thought is that this condition starts at a young age and mostly affects children, but becoming asthmatic later on in life is more common than you think. According to the American Asthma Association, the disease affects 1 in 12 adults.  When the disease is diagnosed in an adult older than the age of 20, it is known as adult-onset asthma.

The reasons why some develop asthma later in adulthood are not always clear, but common irritants that can be triggers include smoke, mold, and pollen, or can be the result of other commonplace substances and irritants in the workplace or your home environment.

While for some people asthma is merely a minor nuisance and often an inconvenience, for others it poses a greater problem that can interfere with normal daily activities.

Which ever of these two groups you find yourself in, having an asthma action plan can help to limit the interruptions that this condition can cause. This short article will help you put together your own asthma action plan.

What Causes Asthma in Adults?

The causes of asthma in an adult are not clear. But it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

  • Allergens are the most common trigger of asthma in adults. If you are constantly exposed to cigarette smoke, dust, perfumes, mold, chemicals, and other substances present in the environment, it may trigger asthma.
  • Adults who are allergic to cats may also develop asthma.
  • Women who experience some hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause can also develop the symptoms of asthma.
  • Certain occupational materials can trigger asthma in adults, such as the materials used in manufacturing, farming, painting, and hairdressing.
  • Prolonged stress and emotions.
  • Using certain medications, such as Ibuprofen (an analgesic) and Propranolol (an antihypertensive) can also trigger asthma.
  • Respiratory infections
  • Cold air can also trigger asthma.

Asthmatic girl suffering an asthma attack receiving an inhaler at home

How to Manage Your Asthma Using an Adult Asthma Action Plan

Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be properly managed. If you have asthma, you can always keep your symptoms in check by creating an organized adult asthma action plan.

The adult asthma action plan helps you know whether you can control the symptoms, or the reason it may be challenging to do so.  It also prevents persistent asthma attacks, especially for people with moderate to severe adult asthma.

If you experience the symptoms of asthma, it is important you collaborate with your healthcare provider to create an action plan.

The action plan is a written personalized worksheet that shows you how to keep the symptoms under control and prevent complications.

This is something to discuss in detail with your health care provider in order to create one that fits your needs and lifestyle.

What Should Your Action Plan Contain?

These are a few things your action plan should include:

  • Identified asthma triggers
  • The names, strengths, and frequency of the medicines you use to manage the disease
  • Symptoms and signs such as the peak flow measurements to show an improvement or worsening asthma
  • Symptoms that require prompt medical attention
  • Telephone numbers to call in case of an emergency

 

Female physician giving asthma inhaler to elderly couple during visit

Why You Should Create an Asthma Action Plan

  1. Keep track of the symptoms

Your action plan is like a diary. It helps you keep track of your signs and symptoms. You can also document unusual symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day activities. This will help you know whether the symptoms are getting better or worse.

  1. Record your peak flow measurement

A peak flow meter is a simple hand-held device that measures how well your lungs expel air. Using a peak flow meter is an important part of managing asthma symptoms and preventing persistent attacks.

Every peak flow measurement can be recorded in your action plan and can be presented to your health care provider when next you visit the clinic.

  1. Assess Asthma Control

The action plan allows you to make sense of your recordings by classifying them in three different zones: RED, YELLOW, and GREEN zones.

A peak flow value that is lower than usual indicates that asthma is getting worse. When the value is much higher, it means there is an improvement.

  1. Know when to taper your medications

Using long-acting and short-acting corticosteroids is a common method for managing asthma. Your action plan would tell you when you need to decrease or increase the dose of your medications based on the severity of asthma.

  1. Identify Triggers

Your action plan can also help you to identify asthma triggers and how to avoid them. It should contain details that relate the triggers you experience with the pattern of an asthma attack. Also, you should record your methods of avoiding the triggers in the action plan.

On a Final Note

If you suffer from asthma working with your health care provider to develop an action plan can save you from a lot of disruption.  Once you have created an asthma action plan, share it with a family or a close friend in case of any emergency, so that they can come in handy when there’s an attack. You should also keep it handy and easily accessible. And, very importantly, keep your inhaler with you always and have regular health checkups.

 

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