The Big Picture on Asthma Treatment


When it comes to treating asthma, experts generally take a two-pronged approach. First, they recommend medication that prevents symptoms or stops them when they get started. Second, they suggest that patients avoid asthma triggers, such as pollen, pet dander, or other substances or activities that can set off the coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath typical of this condition.

There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed successfully by taking medication, identifying (and avoiding) triggers, and consulting your physician regularly. Sounds easy, right? In reality, it can take some juggling to get the hang of various asthma medications and their delivery methods, as well as to figure out the specific asthma triggers and how likely they are to cause breathing trouble.

With time and experience, however, most people with asthma become pros at predicting when they are most likely to experience problems (and at avoiding those situations). Is your child coming down with a cold? In some cases, that means stepping up his or her medication. Did you spend the day in a home with lots of cats? For those sensitized to cat dander, that could mean a red-alert day and extra medication.

Sticking to a treatment plan will help you or your child stay active and will minimize symptoms even in the face of asthma triggers. Some children may even stop experiencing symptoms altogether, but dont assume your child has “grown out of asthma.” Only a doctor can determine if its safe to cut back on medication. If asthma treatment is successful, there should be little to no symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath.

However, that doesnt mean that asthma is completely gone—it could just be controlled due to medication. In that case, cutting back could result in potentially life-threatening breathing difficulties.