Asthma self-management: the key to your success

More and more research has shown that people who are informed about their medical conditions and actively involved in managing these conditions will have better outcomes than those who don't become engaged in their health. "Self-management" refers to the tasks that an individual person must do to live well with one or more chronic conditions.

People with asthma are a natural fit with the concept of self-management. Traditional education involves condition-specific information and focuses on technical skills that may or may not improve a person's life. For example, a person receiving traditional asthma education might be taught how to properly use their inhaler, how to use their peak flow meter, and how to avoid triggers. In comparison, asthma self-management education involves many of the same topics as traditional education, but also incorporates problem-solving skills. For example, a person receiving asthma self-management education might learn tools that help them assess their own situation, set their own goals, and solve their own problems (with the support of their health care team). He or she might learn how to anticipate future problems (such as worsening symptoms) and know what to do if problems arise (having a written asthma action plan in place).

Asthma is a variable condition, and a treatment plan must allow for adjustments. A variable condition is one in which symptoms are different between people, and/or symptoms in the same person are different during different points in time (i.e., over the course of a year). Asthma self-management education is helpful in empowering people to take responsibility for their written treatment plan (as well as helping to understand any changes in the plan that result from changes in asthma control). It is essential that this asthma action plan be written down and specific to an individual's needs.

Keeping your asthma under control can reduce your risk of an asthma attack and help you lead an active life. In order to keep your asthma under control, it's important to use your asthma medications exactly as recommended by your doctor. Controller medications help keep your asthma under control over time to reduce your risk of asthma attacks. For most people, they should be taken regularly, even when you have no symptoms. Check with your doctor if you are unsure. Reliever medications are used as needed to provide quick relief for asthma symptoms. If you're not sure what your asthma medications are for or how to use them, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

If you would like to be successful in controlling your asthma, there's no time like the present to get started. Find out more about asthma self-management education. The more you know, the better equipped you will be to keep your symptoms at bay. And remember that learning isn't a one-time deal. It's a continuous process, and if you can be committed to asthma self-management education, you will be well on your way to reaching your goal of having the best control possible.

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