FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (May 19, 2011) - Asthma is a serious, sometimes life-threatening respiratory disease that affects the quality of life for millions of Americans.

An asthma attack occurs when lungs tighten and swell, causing an insufficient amount of air to breathe. Symptoms may include wheezing, coughing and tightness of the chest.

Although there is no cure for asthma yet, it can be controlled through medical treatment and management of triggers.

Many people with asthma have allergies, which can trigger asthma symptoms. Common allergens or substances that cause symptoms include house dust mites, pets, molds, pollen, cockroach droppings or foods. Other forms of asthma triggers are colds, exercise, weather and pollen.

The best way to control asthma symptoms is by controlling your contact with the triggers. If you have asthma, you can reduce the symptoms and improve the quality of life by avoiding the asthma triggers and working with the primary care manager to develop a treatment/action plan.

The asthma action plan includes asthma triggers, symptoms that escalate from doing well to getting worse. This also includes peak flow meter readings.

Daily control medications and their use are also listed on the asthma action plan. The asthma action plan also lists warning signs, emergency contact numbers and steps to take when an asthma attack occurs.

By managing exposures to asthma triggers and using the asthma action plan, you can control the asthma instead of it controlling you.

Editor's note: Baker is a registered nurse at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16