According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more children miss school due to asthma than any other chronic condition, proving that prevention is critical in managing this chronic condition--especially among young people. But it is also important to keep in mind that this condition doesn't only children. It also causes adults to miss work due to related symptoms and complications, and in addition, causes a variety of quite serious health challenges for seniors.

The good news is that if you are caring for someone with asthma, regardless of what age group they fall in, there are steps you can take to prevent the condition from kicking in.

Prevention is Essential

The first step in preventing asthma is to help your charge take his or her control medication as prescribed. Control medications typically come in inhaled or oral form and work by helping keep the person's airways from becoming sensitized to various triggers. This will prevent them from going into a spasm and making it hard to move the air back and forth. Keep in mind that these medications must be taken regularly in order to be effective.

The second step in preventing asthma is to avoid coming in contact with substances that are known to trigger the condition. This can be anything from cold air, pollen, dust, pet hair or dander, smoke or even illness, among other things.

Know the Tools

There are a variety of tools that exist today that can help people with asthma to take their medication in the most effective way. You should work with the asthmatic person to help them use these as part of their regular preventative routine.  A few of the most common ones include:

  • Peak flow monitor: this is a device that measures the person's breathing capacity and alerts you that an attack could be coming.
  • Medications: There are several different types of inhalers that provide an easy-to-use way to deliver control medication and also fast-relief medications. Some people may also use a face mask and spacer that helps make the medication delivery easier to coordinate properly, especially for very young children. Regardless of the type of medication needed, it is essential to take it exactly as prescribed.
  • Nebulizer: This is a portable machine that is sometimes recommended instead of an inhaler to help young children and adults get their medication more effectively.
  • Asthma Management or Action Plan: A written document that offers advice on how to best control a person's asthma and provides details on how to effectively avoid triggers, monitor symptoms and take medication as needed in a variety of circumstances.

Take Control of the Environment

While you can't "cure" asthma or make the condition reverse itself, you can at least make sure that the asthmatic's daily environment is as safe and comfortable as possible to minimize the occurrence of symptoms. To this end, here are some valuable steps you can take to avoid triggers:

  • Avoid pets in the home or at least minimize pet dander and hair in the bedroom and other common areas
  • Minimize dust, mold and air pollution, which can make symptoms worse in some people
  • Clean and change bedding regularly to reduce dust mites
  • Steer clear of places where people may be smoking
  • Become aware of seasonal and environmental triggers and take steps to avoid them, such as keeping windows closed when pollen is high and staying indoors during times of poor air quality
  • Check ingredients contained in foods and plan to prepare most meals at home if food allergies trigger asthma symptoms

Be Proactive

While you can often help a person effectively prevent asthma symptoms at home, it is also important to respond right away when you notice signs that the symptoms might be starting up. For instance, if you find that the peak flow readings are getting worse or the person you care for is getting out of breath more easily or experiencing other early warnings signs, such as extreme tiredness, a cough or a headache, always follow the recommended steps contained in the asthma management plan. Also reach out to the doctor for advice in staying on top of the situation.