So, you’ve come to the realization that you are not the best asthmatic – you’re like Joe Goofus. You use your inhaler way too often and you recognize – perhaps from reading my post “the 31 signs you might be a bronchodilatoraholic” – that you overuse your rescue inhaler.
Now you are wondering, “What do I do to break my inhaler abuse habit?”
Now you ask: “How to I go from being a Joe Goofus to being more like Jake Gallant? How do I get it right?”
To make the transition is very easy, and, considering you have made the observation that you have a problem, you are already well on your way to becoming a Gallant Asthmatic.
Becoming a better asthmatic is easy, all you have to do is ACT. ACT is an an acronym for Admit, Call and Take.
- Admit you have a problem: (I’m short of breath, I’m a Goofus Asthmatic, I’m a bronchodilatoraholic).
- Call your physician: (or go to the ER according to your Asthma Action Plan (see below).
- Take your meds (exactly as prescribed. This includes both your preventative meds and your rescue inhaler).
That’s it. It’s that easy.
Your doctor will work with you on finding the best preventative medicines to control your asthma. All you have to do it take them exactly as prescribed whether you are having asthma symptoms or if you are feeling good.
So now you are wondering: “What is an Asthma Action Plan and how can it help me?” (Sometimes they are called Asthma Management Plans. It’s the same thing)
A peak flow (pf) meter
Understand your symptoms
Peak Flow Meter: I described what a pf meter is and how to use it to manage your asthma in this post here. For your convenience, I will sum it up here:
"According to National Jewish Health, you blow into you pf meter twice a day first thing in the morning before you take any meds, and before bed. After two weeks, you take the highest number that you blew and this is your personal best.
Now, when you blow 80-100% of your personal best, you are good to go. When you blow 60-80% of your personal best, you should use your rescue inhaler, wait 20-30 minutes, and blow in your pf again. If your pf is now above 80%, you are okay for now, but you should use your pf every four hours.
However, if your pf is still below 80%, you should call your doctor.
When you blow in your meter and your pf is less than 60%, you should use your rescue inhaler and then have someone take you to the ER. Or, if you are bad enough, call an ambulance (you should avoid driving yourself to the ER)."
Undestanding your symptoms: Early warning signs are signs that usually occur BEFORE you have an asthma attack. You need to recognize what your signs are and treat them BEFORE it turns into a full-fledged asthma attack.
A. Internal warnings: funny feeling in chest, headache, spacey feeling, dry mouth, scratchy throat, itchy throat, feel weak, feel droopy, chin ithces, any other signs that are unique to YOU.
B. External warnings: breathing slows down, eyes look glassy, get upset easily, feel sad, get excited, feel nervous, watery eyes, feel clammy, feel feverish, cough, sneeze, runny nose, pale, fast heartbeat, being tired, want to be alone, get quiet,
slow down, mopey, dark circles under eyes, feel grumpy, head plugged up, restless, and any signs unique to YOUl.
YOU must learn to recognize these signs "so treatment can be taken to avoid an attack… being aware that an early sign can precipitate an attack by 5 minutes to as long as a few days. "
Then you must treat your asthma. You can do that by resting, doing diagphragmatic breathing, and stopping any activity when an early warning sign is noticed – and rest. Take your rescue inhaler. Seek help if these steps do not work. Call your doctor or have someone take you to the hospital. But, by golly, don’t sit around for days puffing on your inhaler until it becomes empty.
Remember, your goal is to get your asthma under control. Following your asthma action plan to a tee, like Jake Gallant, will put you on the path of complete control of your asthma.
A Registered Respiratory Therapist and asthmatic