Asthma is chronic inflammation of the lower airway, causing symptoms like chest tightness, wheezing, cough and night-time awakening. Some asthma is mild, just requiring occasional use of a rescue inhaler (albuterol, ProAir, Xopanex). Some asthma is very severe, requiring emergency room visits, ICU admissions or even causing death. The goal of asthma treatment is to give each asthma patient symptom-free days of normal activity not restricted by asthma symptoms, on the least amount of medication possible.
Many people with asthma don't realized they have it! Sometimes the symptoms creep up so gradually that the person isn't aware of the changes in how they feel, or how they restrict their activity to avoid asthma symptoms- they just accept it as the state of normal for themselves. Asthma is very common in patients with allergies (up to 80% of asthma patients have allergic triggers to their asthma, and more than 60% of allergy patients have symptoms of asthma, or signs of asthma on breathing testing (spirometry).
How well is your asthma controlled? Take the Asthma Control Test
It is a good idea to track how often you are needing your rescue inhaler, and what you were doing just before you needed it. Bring this on your next doctor visit, to see if we can track down any hidden triggers for your asthma. You need to let us know if you are consistently requiring your rescue inhaler more than twice a week (not counting planned use before exercise)- this may mean you need stronger controller medication. Printing out this Asthma Tracking Sheet makes recording this information easy!