Living with Asthma

Personal Asthma Diary Action Plan // What is a peak flow? //How can I tell if my asthma is getting better or worse?

The whole aim of managing asthma is to put you in control of your asthma, rather than letting asthma control you. The best way of getting control of your asthma is to work in close partnership with your doctor or asthma nurse. Together, you will be able to decide whether you are getting the best treatment for your asthma.

Remember with asthma you can still go on holiday, talk part in sport and exercise and ski.

Asthma can be affected by hayfever and rhinitis, changes in weather and spring cleaning routines. There are many triggers for asthma.

Click here for information on asthma in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

The key to keeping your asthma under control is to continue to take your preventer medication regularly every day - even when you're feeling well. That's because it works over a period of time to give your airways the protection they need. Keep your preventer in a handy place - so that taking it becomes part of your daily routine.

Personal Asthma Diary Action Plan

Everyone should have a Personal Asthma Diary Action Plan. Your doctor or nurse should complete this in discussion with you. The plan will contain the information you need to keep control of your asthma, including details about your asthma medicine, key things to tell you when your asthma symptoms are getting worse and what you should do about it and emergency information on what to do if you have an asthma attack.

The plan allows you to vary and change your medicine within agreed limits to gain better control of your asthma. Make sure you have your asthma reviewed once a year, or sooner if your symptoms are getting worse or you have more severe asthma symptoms.

It is important that you do not change your medicines without talking to your doctor or nurse first to agree on a personal asthma action plan.

A key part of keeping your asthma under control is to continue taking your preventive medicines as regularly as prescribed - even when you are feeling well - because it builds up over time to give your airways the protection they need.

Download a Personal Asthma Diary Action Plan.

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What is a peak flow?

A peak flow is a measurement of how hard you can blow air out of your lungs. You get this reading by blowing into a small plastic tube called a peak flow meter. Most adults and children over six years of age can use a peak flow meter. The meter has a marker, which slides up the scale as you blow out. The better controlled your asthma, the harder you'll be able to blow out and the higher your peak flow scores will be. There is no one peak flow score, which is good for everyone. Your score will vary according to your age, sex and height. Your doctor or nurse will probably ask you to take a series of peak flow reading over a few weeks. You should take readings every morning and early evening, before you use your inhalers. Your doctor or nurse will give you a chart to plot the results and he or she will look at them to see if your levels are as high as they should be.

  • Measuring your peak flow is important because:
  • You can tell what's really going on in your airways rather than just guessing.
  • You can find out if the treatment you are on is controlling your asthma.
  • It's a record of how well you've been which you can show your doctor or nurse.

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How can I tell if my asthma is getting better or worse?

As well as using a peak flow meter there are other ways in which you can keep a check on your asthma. Symptoms are just as important so if you notice any of the following, then you should see your doctor who can help to bring your asthma back under control:

  • Waking at night with coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or a tight chest
  • Increased shortness of breath on waking up in the morning
  • Needing more and more reliever treatment or reliever not working very well
  • Unable to continue your usual level of activity or exercise