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Asthma Triggers, Tips and Action Plans

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More than 24 million people in the U.S. suffer from asthma. So, it’s highly likely you know someone who has this lung disease—maybe even you. But all too often, asthma is misunderstood, and the consequences can be serious.

For starters, asthma can limit people from living a full life if not well controlled. And unfortunately, it can lead to emergency room visits. Adventist Health Glendale pulmonologist Shant Shirvanian, MD states “It’s important to know your triggers and have an action plan, to prevent asthma having an impact on your daily activities.” Shirvanian advocates taking steps to create a formal action plan and be able to separate fact from fiction when it comes to asthma and its treatment.

Here are some common myths about asthma, followed by the truth from experts:

Myth 1: Asthma often goes away.

Truth: Asthma is a chronic illness. Its symptoms flare up if a person with asthma is exposed to their personal triggers—such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, dust, mold or strong odors. But even when asthma isn’t acting up, the underlying cause is always present. This is why people with asthma must continue to follow their treatment plan—even when they aren’t feeling any symptoms.

Myth 2: Asthma medicines are only needed during asthma attacks.

Truth: People with asthma always need to carry a rescue inhaler to stop any asthma attacks. But many people with asthma also take daily controller medicines. Along with other asthma control measures, these medicines are designed to help prevent asthma attacks.

Myth 3: Asthma isn’t that serious.

Truth: Asthma is nothing to take lightly. Severe attacks can be fatal. But with a proper treatment plan—and a doctor’s help—asthma can be controlled. Controlling asthma includes learning to avoid things that trigger asthma attacks and understanding how to recognize and stop severe attacks.

Myth 4: People with asthma shouldn’t exercise or play sports.

Truth: People with asthma can and should be physically active, just like everyone else. That said, exercise can be an asthma trigger for some people. But even then, a doctor can create a safe exercise plan. The plan may include taking medicines before exercising to prevent asthma attacks.

Take asthma seriously

The takeaway? Asthma is a long-term disease that needs to be managed. When their asthma is well controlled, people feel better. And they’re less likely to miss work, school or sleep. In other words, asthma shouldn’t interfere with daily life.

People who have asthma also need to know how to prevent and stop attacks. A doctor-created asthma action plan will explain the steps. It will also explain what to do if a severe, potentially life-threatening attack occurs.

Here are some signs you or someone around you is having a severe asthma attack that warrants a call to 911:

  • The person is having trouble breathing and talking.
  • The person’s lips of fingernails turn blue.

Take time to better understand asthma today. Download our All About Asthma sheet here.

About Dr. Shant Shirvanian

Dr. Shant Shirvanian​ attended Medical School at Ross University, where he graduated with Highest Honors. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he was elected and served as Chief Resident. Dr. Shirvanian obtained his subspecialty fellowship training in Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in all three categories. Dr. Shirvanian currently practices Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Adventist Health in Glendale and co-founded Altitude Pulmonary and Critical Care Associates with Dr. Arin Aboulian in 2019. Visit his full bio here.

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