Asthma

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 physician or nurse will put together an asthma action plan for you to take home and follow.

Questions to ask:

You will want to ask yourself and your doctor these questions. These questions will help your doctor develop your asthma action plan.

  • What things make my asthma worse (e.g.  dust, smoke, furry animals)?
  • What should I watch for when my asthma is getting worse?
  • What medicines should I take?
  • When do I need to take my medicines?
  • When should I call my primary care physician or nurse?
  • How do I know when to get emergency help?

Your primary care physician 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.

Here is a sample asthma action plan from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that you may fill out with your doctor.

Understanding your diagnosis

These resources can help answer many of your questions about asthma:

Care management

Work with your WellSense care manager to learn how to manage your asthma. Our care management program is offered at no cost to our members, and it’s just a phone call away. Call 1-855-833-8119 to see if you or your family members are eligible for this program. Learn more.

What is asthma?

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. If you or your child has asthma, there are things you can do to control your asthma at home, school, or work. By doing these things, you and your family may have to make some changes in the way you live. Talk to your primary care physician or nurse for advice to help you make these changes.

What can I do?

Don't Smoke
  • Ask people not to smoke in your home or around you.
  • If you smoke, ask your primary care physician or nurse for help to stop.
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.

Pets

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

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.
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.

Cockroaches

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.

Understanding your diagnosis

These resources can help answer many of your questions about asthma:

Care management

Work with your WellSense care manager to learn how to manage your asthma. Our Care Management Program is offered at no cost to our members, and it’s just a phone call away. Call 1-855-833-8119 to see if you or your family members are eligible for this program. Learn more.

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 include: 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
Dry-powder inhaler (DPI)

 

  • 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 of DPIs include Advair Diskus, Arnuity Ellipta, Breo Ellipta, Flovent Diskus

 


Metered-dose inhaler (MDI)

 

  • The first time you use an MDI and with each refill, you must prime your inhaler. See your package insert for specific instructions.
  • Before using, shake the MDI vigorously for 5 seconds
  • You must take a slow, deep breath 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 of MDIs include Advair HFA, albuterol HFA, Alvesco, Flovent HFA, Qvar

 


Soft-mist inhaler (SMI)

 

  • 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 breath 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 of SMIs include 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 with a spacer

  1. Take off the inhaler cap and make sure the spray hole and mouth piece are clean
  2. Shake inhaler 10-15 times
  3. Put inhaler mouthpiece into end of the spacer
  4. Inhale a deep breath and breathe out all the way
  5. Hold inhaler and spacer between pointer finger and thumb
  6. Put the mouthpiece of the spacer in your mouth above your tongue
  7. Close your lips around the spacer and tilt your head back
  8. Press on the inhaler once and breathe in slowly and deeply
  9. Hold the air in for 5-10 seconds
  10. Open your mouth and breathe out slowly

Watch the video below to see how it's done.


Understanding your diagnosis

These resources can help answer many of your questions about asthma:

Care management

Work with your WellSense care manager to learn how to manage your asthma. Our care management program is offered at no cost to our members, and it’s just a phone call away. Call 1-855-833-8119 to see if you or your family members are eligible for this program. Learn more.

Reduce asthma triggers in your home

Attic:

  • Repair your roof leaks. Moisture causes mold.
Bedroom:
  • Avoid carpeting, stuffed animals and feather pillows/comforters.
  • Use dust mite covers on mattress and pillows.
  • Wash sheets and pillow covers at least every two weeks in hot water.
Kitchen:
  • Don't feed the cockroaches and mice! Keep your kitchen clean, cover your food and avoid clutter.
  • Open a window when cooking.
Bathroom:
  • Keep bathroom clean.
  • Don't use cleaners with strong scents.
Living Room:
  • Vacuum your carpet and mop your floor.
  • Replace furnace and vacuum air filters.
  • Don't burn scented candles or incense.

Understanding your diagnosis

These resources can help answer many of your questions about asthma:

Care management

Work with your WellSense care manager to learn how to manage your asthma. Our care management program is offered at no cost to our members, and it’s just a phone call away. Call 1-855-833-8119 to see if you or your family members are eligible for this program. Learn more.

How can cleaning affect my asthma?

Your household cleaning products may trigger your asthma or make your asthma worse, even if you only use the product for a short time. Symptoms may start right after you breathe in the substance or may start hours later. You can also suddenly develop asthma from a chemical that you have used before to clean, disinfect, and control dust.

You may also use cleaning products for your job if you are a janitor, house cleaner, or work in an office or hospital. Some people who work in a job that uses cleaners, or work in areas where cleaners are used, can develop breathing problems.

Here are some jobs where you might be exposed to cleaning products:

Types of Jobs

Types of Cleaner

Hospital worker

Hotel maintenance

House cleaner

Janitor

Maid

Office worker

Restaurant worker

Teacher

Carpet cleaner

Disinfectant

Floor wax stripper

Glass cleaner

Tile cleaner

Toilet cleaner

 

Use these tips to avoid getting sick from using cleaning products:

  • Read and follow the product’s warning labels
  • Read the Safety Data Sheet for the products you use or work with
  • Wear goggles to protect your eyes when using cleaners
  • Wear gloves to protect your skin when using cleaners
  • Do not use a cleaner at full strength when the instructions say to mix or dilute it with water
  • Do not mix cleaning productsStore cleaning products in their original containers
  • Leave windows and doors open, or use a fan to circulate the air, especially in small rooms or in areas where there is poor ventilation
  • Carefully handle leftover cleaner in buckets and on rags and sponges
  • Be aware that dust masks will not prevent you from breathing in the cleaners
  • Use less toxic cleaners whenever possible

For more questions and solutions about your asthma symptoms and triggers, visit http://asthmanownh.net.

For more information and assistance with living with asthma, call the WellSense case management program at 1-855-833-8119.

Understanding your diagnosis

These resources can help answer many of your questions about asthma:

Care management

Work with your WellSense care manager to learn how to manage your asthma. Our care management program is offered at no cost to our members, and it’s just a phone call away. Call 1-855-833-8119 to see if you or your family members are eligible for this program. Learn more.

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

Understanding your diagnosis

These resources can help answer many of your questions about asthma:

Care management

Work with your WellSense care manager to learn how to manage your asthma. Our care management program is offered at no cost to our members, and it’s just a phone call away. Call 1-855-833-8119 to see if you or your family members are eligible for this program. Learn more.