Asthma: A Worsening of Symptoms

You can do a lot to control your asthma. Avoiding triggers, taking medicines, and monitoring your symptoms can help keep problems at bay. Occasionally, though, your symptoms may still take a turn for the worse. When that happens, it’s important to act right away. By recognizing the early warning signs and talking with your health care provider, you can help keep little flare-ups from turning into big ones.

Watch for red flags

These warning signs tell you that your asthma is getting worse:

  • Symptoms that occur more often than usual

  • Symptoms that have become worse

  • Symptoms that bother you at night and interfere with sleep

  • Absences from work or school because of asthma

  • Peak-flow numbers that are low or vary widely from day to day

  • More frequent use of your quick-relief inhaler

  • A visit to the emergency room because of an asthma attack

If you develop severe breathing problems or your quick-relief medicine isn’t working, call your health care provider or go to the ER immediately. Always schedule a follow-up appointment with your health care provider after an asthma attack sends you to the ER. Your medication may need to be adjusted to prevent you from having such serious breathing problems in the future—and from returning to the ER.

Talk with your provider

Even for less severe problems, it’s important to talk with your health care provider promptly. Together, the two of you can look for the source of the trouble. For example, you might need more information about how to avoid triggers, manage symptoms, or use an inhaler properly. Or you might need a change in your asthma medicine.

The good news is that once you and your health care provider get your asthma back under control, there’s a good chance you’ll have few, if any, symptoms.

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