Today’s standard of care in asthma treatment is for patients and their doctors to work together to develop an individualized “Asthma Action Plan”--starting with teenagers on up into adulthood. The more that patients and their loved ones learn about asthma and how to cope with it, the better the quality of their lives can be.
Patients can learn to use a device called a peak flow meter to monitor their asthma (more about this below) and to track their symptoms. Their doctors adjust their treatment to prevent adults from missing work and children from missing school.
WESTMED internists and pulmonologists see asthma patients ranging from ages 15 and up whose airways are often swollen or inflamed. That makes them extra sensitive to “triggers” in the environment. Symptoms can be wheezing, frequent cough and chest tightness, and they differ for each person. But patients can take steps to keep their asthma under control.
Managing asthma is patient-centric, says Dr. Paul Weinstein, WESTMED pulmonologist with offices at Westchester’s Ridge Hill in Yonkers. Teenagers learn that asthma is “fun to manage” once they feel empowered to manage their disease. “We help the patients help themselves get better and are here as a resource for them.”
Learning to Monitor Peak Flow Rates
Peak flow monitoring is recommended for people with moderate to severe asthma. A peak flow meter is a portable, inexpensive handheld device used to measure a patient’s ability to push air out of his/her lungs in one “fast blast”. When used properly, it can reveal narrowing of the airways well in advance of an asthma attack. You can work with your healthcare provider on using these measurements to manage your condition.
You can purchase a peak flow meter from your local pharmacy, drugstore or general retailer. The cost of a peak flow meter ranges from $20 to $70 for each unit. Or you can find peak flow meters from an online retailer, such as Amazon.
What Goes Into an Asthma Action Plan?
The “Asthma Action Plan” is written by you and your doctor. Information to be included should be:
--When to take your medicine and how much, such as before exercise or playing sports.
--A log of day-to-day problems and warning signs
--A list of triggers that may cause an asthma attack, such as cologne, scented candles, pet dander, cold weather, smoke from the fireplace, exercise
--The names of your medicines, how much to take and when to take them. With asthma, prompt action counts. Quick-relief medicines (also called rescue medicines) relieve or stop
asthma symptoms once they have started. They are inhaled and work quickly to relax the muscles that tighten around your airways.
--Steps to take in an emergency. Contact information for your health provider, ER at the hospital, ambulance and family/friends.
Once your plan is ready, give a copy of it to family members and your close co-workers. Review your plan with your doctor one or two times per year.
How Do I Get Going on An Asthma Action Plan?
To put together an asthma action plan based on your peak flow and prescribed medications, make an appointment with your WESTMED internist, pediatrician or pulmonologist. You can see an example of an Asthma Action Plan on the American Lung Association’s Web site at
Other Information You May Find Helpful
Your doctor or nurse can provide several educational videos to you on topics such as: asthma, asthma -- cold and flu season, asthma action plans, asthma and exercise, asthma and house dust, asthma and pets, asthma and smoke, asthma and strong smells, asthma nebulizer (adult), asthma nebulizer (child) and asthma peak flow meter.