Breathe Better with the Latest Asthma Guidelines

Do you find that your asthma symptoms often interfere with your daily living? Then the latest asthma guidelines offered by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) may be just what the doctor ordered. NHLBI regularly reviews the latest clinical data and uses these findings to develop some of the best practice guidelines for doctors and patients. These can help you manage this chronic condition more effectively.

Asthma Guidelines Stress Individual Needs

Every asthmatic has separate, individual symptoms. That is why the NHLBI guidelines stress the importance of working with your doctor to develop a comprehensive written "Asthma Action Plan" that's geared to your specific circumstances. Having such a personalized plan in place and reviewing it often to make changes as needed can be an essential part of keeping your asthma well managed.

Four Key Components

NHLBI's asthma guidelines recommend that you cover four essential elements in any personal asthma action plan. These are the following:

  1. Monitoring your symptoms. Keeping track of how you feel can help head off a serious asthma attack. That's why using a peak flow monitor (a plastic device you can use to measure your airflow capacity) should be used as an early indicator of when your asthma is beginning to kick in. Asthma check-ups, including a review of your symptoms and lung function tests, are also recommended at least twice a year.

  2. Getting educated. Knowing the basics about asthma and what specific factors trigger your condition can be crucial to keep your symptoms in check. It's also important to recognize your personal warning signs that tell you asthma could be kicking in.

  3. Taking control of your triggers. In order to keep your asthma well managed, you'll need to take multiple steps to avoid exposure to environmental triggers such as pollen, dust, and chemicals. The second part of this equation is to take care of yourself and avoid getting sick. Getting plenty of sleep, eating well, and washing your hands often to keep from getting a cold or flu are essential to maintain respiratory health.

  4. Using medication as directed. Your doctor will work with you to manage your symptoms using the most effective medication as part of your overall plan. Relying on a combination of long-term control medication such as a corticosteroid inhaler (which is the recommended approach) and also relying on fast-acting relief medication for times when you experience a flare can help keep you from experiencing more severe asthma attacks.

If these steps sound pretty familiar, chances are you and your doctor are making all the right moves to help you feel your best. While none of these approaches are new or particularly unique, these strategies have proven repeatedly to be effective to keep asthma in check.


National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health