Effective treatment of allergic asthma includes identifying and avoiding allergens that trigger symptoms, using drug therapies and developing an emergency action plan for severe attacks. Your allergist may also recommend that you monitor your asthma by using a peak flow meter. This small handheld device allows you to measure how much air you are able to push out through your lungs. If your airflow is low, your allergist may recommend changes to your treatment plan, such as additional behavioral or environmental changes or a different asthma medication.
Have an Action Plan
If you have asthma, it’s important to have a plan in place for a range of situations and symptoms. In fact, one of the single most important steps that you can take to successfully take control and manage your condition is to create an asthma action plan with your allergist.
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Other Treatment Options
Asthma triggers frequently include:
- Allergens such as pollen, dust mites, cockroaches, molds and animal danders
- Irritants in the air, such as smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes and strong odors
- Medications, such as aspirin and acetaminophen
- Extreme weather conditions
Allergies are just one of the factors that can trigger asthma attacks. Not all people with asthma have allergies and there are many people who have allergies but do not have asthma.
Some ongoing health problems can trigger asthma symptoms or make them worse. These include obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, acid reflux, stress and depression. Let your allergist know if you have one of these conditions so you can discuss the best approach to control both your health problem and your asthma symptoms. Colds and sinus infections can also worsen your asthma.
When to See an Allergist
An allergist can help you learn more about your asthma and develop a treatment plan that works for you. You should see an allergist if:
- Your asthma symptoms occur every day and often at night, limiting your activity.
- You’ve had a life-threatening asthma attack.
- Your goals for asthma treatment haven’t been met after three to six months, or your doctor believes that you aren’t responding to current treatment.
- Your symptoms are unusual or hard to diagnose.
- You have conditions such as severe hay fever or sinusitis that complicate your asthma or your diagnosis.
- Additional tests are needed to find the causes of your symptoms.
- You need more help and instruction on your treatment plan, medicines or asthma triggers.
- Allergy shots might help you.
- You need oral corticosteroid therapy or high-dose inhaled corticosteroids.
- You’ve taken oral corticosteroids more than twice in one year.
- You have been hospitalized because of your asthma.
- You need help to identify your asthma triggers.
Consultation with an asthma specialist is recommended if your child is 4 years old or younger and has asthma symptoms every day and three to four nights or more a month. It should be considered if your child has symptoms three days or more a week and one to two nights a month. Find out more about what’s involved in asthma screening.
Although asthma symptoms are controllable, a cure for asthma has remained elusive. Preventive treatment should minimize the difficulties caused by asthma and allow a normal, active lifestyle.