Catching Your Breath: Asthma triggers and treatment plans

Apr 5, 2021


by John Murray, FNP

Asthma is a medical condition in which the airways become narrow, swollen and produce extra mucus. As a result of the underlying physiological process, the patient may experience symptoms of difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Some people will have mild to moderate symptoms that can be managed in an outpatient setting while others will have life threatening symptoms that require immediate medical attention.

According to the Hawai’i Department of Health, of the local population on the islands, “more than 150,000 people are affected by asthma, and about 1/3 are children.” In addition, asthma is one of the leading causes of absenteeism for children and adults in education and workplace settings.

Some of the goals of asthma treatment are to minimize asthma symptoms and reduce the risk of exacerbations. It is important that patients consider their own goals for symptom management and are empowered to be an active partner in their care.

One of the things that should be done to reach these goals is to avoid the triggers that can cause asthma. Dust mites, animal hair, mold, pollen, cockroaches, smoke, vog, dust, powders, aerosol sprays, weather and upper respiratory infections are some of the most common. Eliminating the triggers can help reduce the need for excess medication.

Everyone with asthma should have education on an individualized action plan that they can follow at home and is easy to understand. It is also important to understand the mechanism of action, the frequency and method of taking medications, if needed.

When going to a provider, it is important to report the frequency and severity of daytime symptoms, number of nocturnal awakenings, how often a rescue inhaler is needed and limitations to activities of daily living due to asthma. In order to provide the most holistic asthma management, it is imperative that the patient and their provider work together to utilize a preventative approach to their healthcare plan (Find a primary care provider – make that text a link to

Asthma Haiku

Breathing so heavy

Constriction of the airways

Help help please help me


Asthma - chronic disease prevention & health promotion division. (2021). Retrieved March 27, 2021, from