Close-up of a young woman using asthma inhaler in the park

Learn to Handle Asthma


Cat fur, changing weather, cigarette smoke or even running up a flight of steps can be bad for your health if you suffer from asthma.

Many things can trigger asthma, causing the airways in your lungs to become narrow and inflamed.  It pays to know your triggers, says Physician’s Assistant  Jason Brackins of Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic.

Asthma attacks can vary from mild or deadly.  Asthma may run in your family. You may be susceptible to triggers such as pollen, dust mites, furry animals, exercise, changes in temperature and weather, or even getting sick with a cold or the flu.  “That’s one of the reasons why you need to get an annual flu shot,” Jason says.

Asthma makes breathing difficult. Symptoms may include wheezing, a tight feeling in the chest and coughing, especially at night, in the early morning or during exercise.  These symptoms can range from mild to severe.

If you suspect you have asthma, your doctor may test your breathing. That test is available at Mountain Hope, Jason says.

Asthma is treated with different types of medicines: inhalers and pills primarily. Your doctor will prescribe medicine based on your symptoms. Asthma medicines work in one of two ways:

  • Quick-relief medicines stop symptoms quickly. These medicines should only be used once in a while. If you regularly need these medicines more than twice a week, tell your provider. Albuterol inhalers are an example of quick-relief treatment.
  • Long-term controller medicines control asthma and prevent future symptoms. If you have frequent symptoms or several severe episodes in a year, you might need to take these each day. Corticosteroid inhalers are an example of long-term controls.

“It is very important that you take all the medicines the provider prescribes,” Jason said. It may seem like a lot of medication, but asthma that is not treated with the right medicines can stop you leading a normal life, including working and exercising, and may even damage your lungs permanently.

Taking your medication daily can help you avoid symptoms of asthma. And of course, try to stay away from your triggers. “If you don’t know what they are, your doctor can help figure it out,” Jason said.


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