What is Good Asthma Control?
Most asthma experts will now say that thanks to modern asthma wisdom and medicine most asthmatics can gain control of their asthma. So how do you know your asthma is controlled? What is good asthma control?
According to the Global Initiative For Asthma Asthma Guidelines, your asthma should be classified as either controlled, partly controlled, or uncontrolled. So what does this mean for you and me.
Let’s define the above terms:
- No daytime symptoms (shortness of breath, chest tightness, etc.)
- No limits on activities (you can walk, exercise, attend school, work)
- No nighttime symptoms (no waking at night due to asthma)
- Minimal use of rescue medicine (less than twice in two weeks)
- Lung function (FEF or FEV1 are normal)
- Daytime symptoms more than twice a week
- Some limitations in activities (trouble exercising, missed days work/school)
- Wake sometimes at night due to asthma symptoms
- FEF and FEV1 less than 80% of predicted
- Need rescue medicine more than twice a week
Uncontrolled: Three or more features of uncontrolled asthma. Asthma is limiting your lifestyle, effecting your morale and general satisfaction.
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institutes (NHLBI) Asthma Guidelines define control pretty much the same as the GINA guidelines: Control is the degree the above guidelines are met plus the degree YOUR goals of therapy are met.
Your goals may be:
- I just want to be able to walk
- I want to be able to exercise
- I don’t want to miss any more school or work due to my asthma
Another means to monitor control is your own personal satisfaction. Are you satisfied with your life given your asthma severity?
I’ll use myself as a for instance here. I still use my rescue inhaler a few times per day yet I’m still able to live a normal, active life. I never miss work due to asthma, and I can exercise and even run.
I feel my asthma rarely stops me from doing the things I want to do. Therefore, my doctor and I have decided my asthma is controlled – or at least as controlled as it’s going to be.
So essentially there’s a few tools to help you and your doctor determine if your asthma is controlled:
- Guidelines like those listed above
- The degree to which your goals of therapy are accomplished
- Your personal degree of satisfaction
If your asthma is controlled, GREAT Continue to see your doctor as often as he recommends, and no less than at least once per year. And most important, continue being a gallant asthmatic.
If your asthma is partly controlled or uncontrolled, you’ll want to continue to work with your doctor. He may continue to tweak your asthma regime until your goals are met and you’re satisfied.
Remember, all asthmatics should be able to obtain asthma control.
John Bottrell is a registered Respiratory Therapist. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).