Medicines are essential to manage asthma well. Good asthma care also involves treatment for other health conditions that can affect asthma.
A healthy lifestyle helps people with asthma stay in control of their symptoms and feel well.
Everyone with asthma should have their own written asthma action plan to follow that includes instructions for when they are well and whenever symptoms worsen. Most adults and adolescents can monitor and manage their own asthma between visits to the doctor using their action plan. Parents of younger children can also learn how to manage their child’s asthma.
The main aims of asthma treatment are to:
- keep symptoms under control
- prevent flare-ups or ‘attacks’
- keep lungs as healthy as possible
- stop asthma from interfering with school or work
- help you or your child enjoy a full and active life.
Medicines should be prescribed at the lowest strength that works for you or your child – there’s no extra benefit in taking medicines that are stronger than you need.
Tell your doctor what you hope to gain from the asthma treatment, and if you have any particular goals (e.g. for your child to be able to do school sport without symptoms) or concerns (e.g. risks of side-effects).
What is good asthma control?
Doctors assess recent asthma control by asking about symptoms during the previous 4 weeks.
- activities are not limited at all by asthma
- no asthma symptoms during the night (including coughing during sleep) or on waking up
- daytime symptoms on no more than 2 days per week
- need to take the reliever on no more than 2 days per week (not counting reliever taken before exercise)
- any symptoms go away quickly after using the reliever puffer.
Asthma action plans
Every adult and child with asthma should have their own, personalised, written asthma action plan prepared with their doctor that includes:
- a list of the person’s usual asthma medicines, including doses
- instructions on what to do when asthma is getting worse (including when to take extra doses or extra medicines, and when to contact a doctor or go to the emergency department)
- what to do in an asthma emergency
- name of the person preparing the plan
- the date.
Written asthma action plans should be checked and updated at least once a year for adults and once every 6 months for children. Bring your action plan or your child’s action plan to every visit to your doctor.
We have a number of asthma action plan examples available as well as action plans in other languages.
Asthma care tips
- Everyone with asthma needs their own reliever puffer with them at all times. Young children’s parents, carers and teachers need to know when and how to give the medicine.
- If symptoms do not improve, tell your doctor.
- Taking reliever medicine often means asthma is not well controlled, and the person may be at risk of serious flare-ups. People who need to take their reliever more than twice a week for asthma symptoms need a check-up.
- Children and adults need training to use inhalers correctly. Visit our How-to Video Library on inhaler use.
- Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to check that you are taking the medicine properly. When you visit your doctor for asthma rechecks, tell your doctor if you are having any problems using an inhaler or if you are not sure your technique is correct.
- Ask your doctor about possible side-effects of all your medicines. If you have any concerns, tell your doctor or pharmacist and ask for more information.
- If you take regular preventer medicine, never change the dose without talking to your doctor first (unless your written asthma action plan tells you when and how to alter your treatment).