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Asthma Management


With proper management, people with asthma can live normal, healthy lives. Medication is an important part of treating common asthma symptoms. Many people with asthma take a controller medicine and have a rescue medicine to take when needed.

There are two kinds of asthma medicine:

1. Control Medicine: This medicine is for everyday use, keeps the airways from swelling. It is slow acting. 

2. Relief Medicine: This medicine is for when you have asthma symptoms. It should work fast. Have this medicine with you wherever you go.

Inhalers (Puffers)

There are two types of inhalers: metered dose inhaler (MDI) and dry powder inhaler (DPI).

1. Metered Dose Inhalers:  These inhalers use an aerosol canister inserted into a plastic mouthpiece to deliver a short burst of medicine

2. Dry Powder Inhalers: These inhalers deliver medicine as a dry powder using a special inhaler (children are not typically prescribed dry powder inhalers).

Proper Inhaler Use

It is important to use your inhaler correctly. Using a spacer, a device that attaches to the inhaler, helps more medicine get to your lungs.  Children and adults can use spacers.

Talk to your doctor if you cannot afford your medicine or check out StateRxPlans to see if you qualify for prescription assistance.

For more info about asthma medicine, check out the Asthma Allergy Foundation of America.

Although it is very difficult to control asthma without proper medication, medication alone cannot always treat asthma.  It is important to see a doctor regularly and well as identify what triggers your asthma and avoid them whenever possible.

Asthma Action Plan

An Asthma Action Plan is a written plan created by you and your doctor that will help you stay away from triggers and take medicine to control your asthma symptoms.

Always keep a copy with you and make sure your school or employer has a copy as well.

The Action Plan has three parts:

The Green section tells about when you feel good and have no asthma symptoms. It has the medicine you take every day. It is how you should feel when asthma is under control.

The Yellow section tells about symptoms of an asthma attack. It has what medicine you take when you have asthma symptoms. It has phone numbers and directions on calling for help.

The Red section tells about when the asthma attack gets worse. It lists medicine to take until help arrives and phone numbers to call for help.

Pocket-Sized Guide and Asthma Action Plan:

The Ohio Department of Health Asthma Program created a pocket-sized reference guide, which can be individualized electronically for patients. The reverse side has an Asthma Action Plan for the health provider to complete.

Access the Ohio Department of Health Asthma Pocket Guide.

Access Asthma Action Plan Templates.

Asthma Control Test

Review and a test to see if your asthma is under control. If you don’t make the grade, talk with a physician to see what you can do to take control of asthma as soon as possible.

Asthma Control Test:

The Asthma Control Test (ACT) has questions for a person with asthma age 4-11 and 12 and up.

The Test for Respiratory and Asthma Control in Kids (TRACK) for kids under 5. 

Child Asthma Risk Assessment Tool (CARAT) A detailed questionnaire looks at a variety of potential risks for a child and then reports on those factors affecting that child. It is designed to help clinicians, asthma counselors, and parents determine potential risks for children with asthma.

Check your asthma knowledge here and take EPA’s Asthma Quiz.

Asthma at Home

Asthma is a chronic disease that increases the lung passage sensitivity to many kinds of substances. These substances are called ‘triggers’ when they cause a reaction in the lung passages. Although triggers can occur in any environment, many occur in the home where people spend a large amount of their time. 

As a society, we spend about 95 percent of our time inside buildings. The indoor air can contain many things that trigger an asthma episode of coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath. 

Some of the most common triggers are:

  • Dust and dust mites

  • Pests – cockroaches and rodents

  • Pets – cats, dogs, rodents

  • Second-hand smoke

  • Mold, mildew

  • Nitrogen dioxide – from burning fuels

  • Volatile organic chemicals – VOC’s – odors and gases from a wide variety of substances

    • Perfumes

    • Household cleaners

    • Paints and varnishes

    • Candles

    • Room deodorizers

    • Glues

There are a number of helpful tools for managing asthma at home.  They include:

  • EPA's Asthma Home Environmental Checklist– helpful in identifying and controlling triggers

  • EPA's Dusty the Asthma Gold Fish in English and Spanish – a fun book for children

  • EPA's Clear Your Home of Asthma Triggers – a quick guide to trigger management

  • EPA's Secondhand Tobacco Smoke and the Health of Your Family – an English and a Spanish side

  • CDC's Help Your Child Gain Control Over Asthma – a comprehensive booklet on medication and trigger management for the family

  • Insurance Navigator Information - An individual or organization that is trained and able to help consumers and small businesses and their employees, as they look for health coverage options through the Marketplace, including completing eligibility and enrollment forms. Facts about insurance navigators

  • National Center for Healthy Housing's Pediatric Environmental Assessment (PEHA) - is a three-page form you use to collect information about the home environment to identify asthma triggers and related issues.

  • National Center for Healthy Housing's Nursing Care Plan - This companion piece to the PEHA is a seven-page form to help you effectively respond to problems identified in the survey.  The PEHA Nursing Care Plan serves as a checklist for you when you identify a potential problem on the PEHA Survey.  For every potential problem (identified in bold typeface) on the PEHA Survey, you will find recommended action steps on the PEHA Nursing Care Plan.

Asthma at School

Asthma is a leading chronic illness among school-age children and one of the leading causes of school absenteeism. Schools with asthma-friendly policies and coordinating services among health care providers, school personnel and families support students with asthma by providing a healthy learning environment. Students with asthma have unique care needs. Asthma is not curable, but it is controllable with proper management.

National Asthma Education and Prevention Program’s Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma (NAEPP EPR-3) are guidelines for providing high-quality asthma care. Schools play an essential part of a student managing their asthma through a well-coordinated asthma management program.

How schools provide quality care for students who have asthma

  • Prepared to handle asthma emergencies

  • Create an environment with fewer asthma triggers

  • Promote education and partnerships that support good asthma control

Resources for a School Asthma Program

  • Managing Asthma: A Guide for Schools - National Institute of Health has action items for the management of asthma, roles, and responsibilities for school personnel and tools for asthma management and connection with and community. Click here for more information.

  • School-Based Asthma Management Program SAMPROTM – American Academy of Allergy & Immunology provides information websites and resources for school nurses, education administrators, clinicians, or healthcare administrators who are interested in implementing the School-based Asthma Management Program at their school or organization.

Strategies for Addressing Asthma in Schools – Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a comprehensive approach to school health. The model centers on youth and coordinates policy, processes, and practice.  Asthma management is based on the NAEPP EPR-3 Guidelines. Click here to for more information.