Asthma

Asthma is one of the most common long-term diseases in both children and adults. It’s a disease that affects the lungs – making it hard to breath. The good news is that it can be controlled. These resources, along with our Care Management Program can help members learn more about their asthma, including what triggers it, how medication can help, and how to live with it.

WellSense Members with Asthma Can:

  • Access most common asthma controller and quick-relief medicines
  • Sign up to receive asthma tips to your phone
  • Receive reminders about how to avoid seasonal triggers to control your asthma
  • Get help creating an Asthma Action Plan
  • Have a home evaluation to identify possible asthma triggers 

Tips for Effectively Using Your Inhaler

  • Make sure there is medication in your inhaler and it’s not empty. Many inhalers have a dose counter, which should tell you how many doses are left.
  • Read the instructions that come with your inhaler and ask your pharmacist or provider about any questions you may have.
  • Make sure you never run out of your maintenance inhalers by using a mail order pharmacy to get a 3 month supply at a time. Enroll online or call Cornerstone Health Solutions at 1-844-319-7588 for more information.
  • Keep track of how often you use your rescue inhaler and how many puffs you take so you can tell your provider at every visit.

 

Maintenance Inhalers Rescue Inhalers
Contain long-term control medications that are important to keep your asthma well-controlled Contain fast-acting medication to quickly open your airways and make breathing easier
Need to be used every day to prevent asthma symptoms Used when your asthma symptoms, like shortness of breath or wheezing, flare up
Most maintenance inhalers are not meant to relieve symptoms immediately (like a rescue inhaler) but a few can be used for rescue (see box below) Work almost immediately to start relieving symptoms
Treat the airway inflammation that causes asthma symptoms, which can reduce or eliminate asthma flares Knowing when you need to use a rescue inhaler can help prevent an asthma attack
It’s important to use your maintenance inhaler everyday as directed by your provider to keep your asthma controlled If you need to use your rescue inhaler multiple times per day, talk to your doctor
Maintenance Inhaler Examples: Arnuity Ellipta, Flovent, Advair, Breo Ellipta, Qvar Albuterol used to be the rescue inhaler of choice, but now some combination inhalers are recommended for rescue treatment and are sometimes preferred over albuterol

Types of inhalers

Types Descriptions
DPI

(Dry Powder Inhaler)

 

For some DPIs, you will need to load a capsule into the device first. (These capsules are NOT meant to be swallowed and should only be used in the device.) Other devices already come loaded with capsules.

DPIs are “breath-activated”, which means that the medication is released when you breathe in.

With the mouthpiece between your front teeth and your lips sealed around it, breathe in through your mouth quickly and deeply for 2-3 seconds.

Remove the inhaler from your mouth and hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds before you exhale.

To clean your DPI, wipe the mouthpiece with a dry cloth.

 

Examples: Advair Diskus, Arnuity Ellipta, Breo Ellipta, Flovent Diskus

 

MDI

(Metered Dose Inhaler)

 

The first time you use an MDI (each refill), you must prime your inhaler. See you package insert forspecific instructions.

Before using, shake the MDI vigorously for 5 seconds

You must take a slow, deep breathe in through your mouth as you press down on the canister to release the medication, then hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds before you exhale.

Make sure to clean your MDI on a regular basis. See the instructions that come with your inhaler for cleaning recommendations.

If you have trouble inhaling the medication when you press down on the canister, ask your doctor about using a spacer.

 

Examples: Advair HFA, albuterol HFA, Alvesco, Flovent HFA, Qvar

 

SMI

(Soft Mist Inhaler)

 

Before use, you must insert the cartridge into the device. Do not shake the inhaler.

Hold the SMI horizontally with the mouthpiece in your mouth and take a slow deep breathe in through your mouth as you press the button on the side of the SMI.

When your lungs are full, hold your breath for 10 seconds, then remove the inhaler from your mouth and slowly breathe out.

Clean your SMI once a week by wiping the inside and outside of the mouthpiece with a damp cloth.

 

Examples: Combivent Respimat, Spiriva Respimat

 

*For specific step-by-step instructions, see the package insert that came with your medication.

How to Use a Metered Dose Inhaler

People of all ages with asthma can learn to control it. If you or your child has asthma, an Asthma Action Plan can help you to know when your asthma is getting worse, and what to do. With your help, your primary care doctor or nurse will put together an Asthma Action Plan for you to take home and follow.We can also help create an Asthma Action Plans for members in our Care Management Program.

What is an Asthma Action Plan?

An Asthma Action Plan tells you:

  • What things make your asthma worse (for example, dust, smoke, furry animals)
  • What to watch for when your asthma is getting worse
  • What medicines to take
  • When to take your medicines
  • When to call your primary care doctor or nurse
  • When to get emergency help

Your primary care doctor or nurse will show you how to use a peak flow meter. A peak flow meter lets you know when your asthma is getting worse before you have any problems. Your peak flow meter numbers will be part of your Asthma Action Plan.

The airways in our lungs help us to breathe. People with asthma have airways that are very sensitive to things like cigarette smoke, strong scents, dust, or household pets. When people with asthma come into contact with one or more of the things that bother their airways, they may wheeze, cough, and have trouble breathing. The good news is that people can learn to control their asthma. By doing these things, you and your family may have to make some changes in the way you live. Talk to your primary care doctor or nurse for advice to help you make these changes.

What can I do to control my asthma?

1. Don't Smoke

Ask people not to smoke in your home or around you. If you smoke, ask your primary care doctor or nurse for help to stop.

2. Wash Away Dust

Wash bed sheets, pillows (filled with polyester fiber), and blankets in hot water every other week. Vacuum carpets often, but not when the person with asthma is nearby. If possible, remove rugs and carpets from the bedroom. Dust bedrooms weekly with a damp cloth.

3. Clean Your Pets

Keep all pets out of the bedroom of the person with asthma. Wash pets, if possible, each week.

4. Remove Mold

Remove any mold and mildew in your bathroom and kitchen. Use cleaning products that do not contain chlorine bleach. White vinegar cleans well and is a good choice. Do not use humidifiers or vaporizers in the bedroom of the person with asthma. Avoid damp areas.

5. Avoid Strong Scents

Don't paint inside the house when the person with asthma is home. Don't use perfumes and scented products. Don't use aerosol sprays such as deodorants and hair sprays.

6. Rid Your Home of Cockroaches

If you live in an apartment, work with your landlord or tenants' group to make sure your building is kept clean and pest-free.

When asthma is not treated properly, the symptoms can worsen and lead to asthma attacks and trouble breathing. Untreated asthma can lead to permanent damage to your lungs, which can cause long term breathing problems. It's important to manage your asthma medications and asthma action plan!

Apps to Help Manage Your Asthma

  • Asthma MD - allows you to log your asthma activity, medications, and triggers
  • DailyBreath - provides you with a daily risk index based on weather and environmental exposure data and recommends tips to prevent your asthma

Online Asthma Resources