Thursday, May 19, 2011

Here's how I keep track of my asthma

Here's another topic I was asked to discuss on my blog:  Share your best practices for keeping track of your asthma and how you use that information to guide conversations with your doctors.

I remember back in the 1980s when I had to take some medicine every three to four hours.  As a kid I found that this ultimately resulted in skipped doses and eventually life got busy and this resulted in me just saying, "Forget it."  Then I'd have no controller meds in my system and when exposed to my triggers I'd come crashing down and end up in an emergency room bed.

So then came along modern asthma controller medicines like Advair which only needs to be taken twice a day, and Singulair which only needs to be taken once a day.  These new medicines are exactly what I needed to get my asthma under control.

I don't think it's so much that these newer medicines are any better than older medicines, but it's just that they only need to be taken once or twice a day.  Thus, for the first time I was able to create an easy to follow daily ritual.  I get up and take my medicine, and then a take my medicine as I'm getting ready for bed. That's it.  No need for any further thought.  Even the laziest asthmatic can follow that plan.

So if I were to provide any wisdom regarding how to keep track of your medicines, I'd recommend that you don't be afraid to try these new medicines that only need to be taken once or twice a day.  Get into the habit of taking your medicines when you wake up and go to bed.

This will make all your life so much better because you'll kill two birds with one stone:  1) You'll have the medicine in your system and, 2) as a result, when exposed to your triggers your asthma attack will be less severe and easier to control, and it bay even be prevented altogether.

So the easiest way to keep track of your medicine is simply to keep it seldom and keep it simple.

Yet then theirs the problem of when your asthma does show it's ugly head.  Then what do you do?  Well, you'll have to use your Albuterol.  That's easy. Get instant relief.  You might want to work out a plan with your doctor, have it written down, open a drawer, pull out the paper, read it when you're in crisis, and then follow the algorithm.

Personally, I know I'll never do that.  It's not me.  So I basically treat the symptoms I feel.  That's me. That's how I do it.  If you're a person whose good at keeping papers and following written plans, then I think that's something you should try.  Yet if you're a normal person like me, common sense is the way to go.

If you have the ability to keep up an asthma diary, go for it.  I can think of no better way to keep track of your asthma, and what caused you to have a flare.  In retrospect I wish I had kept one through the years.

Monitor your symptoms, and then work with your doctor, or do your own research, and come up with a plan that will help you control and treat your asthma.  For tips on how to treat and control your asthma, click here.

While I have found a system that works for me, your job is to find a system that works for you.  You can create a plan that's unique like mine, or you can keep an asthma diary, or you can just do something.  The key is to find something and stick with it long term.

If you don't currently have a plan, I encourage you to do you own research.  If you have a plan, I encourage you to share what works for you in the comments below.

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