Video: How to prevent an asthma attackAsthma attacks can be scary, but they can be prevented. Asthma nurse Caroline helps you to stay well & lower your risk.
“Good asthma care, including a written asthma action plan and regular asthma reviews, makes it easier to stay on top of symptoms and cut your risk of an asthma attack,” says Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UK’s in-house GP.
1. Use an asthma action plan to stay on top of symptoms
Using an action plan means you’re better equipped to manage your symptoms, and so you’re less likely to end up in hospital with your asthma.
An asthma action plan has all the information you need in one place. It reminds you how to look after your asthma every day. And it tells you what to do if your asthma gets worse.
If you haven’t got an action plan yet, download one and make an appointment to see your GP or asthma nurse so they can fill it in with you.
2. Take your preventer inhaler every day even if you feel well
Your preventer medicine builds up protection over time. It stops your airways from getting inflamed, which means you’re less likely to react to your triggers.
Sticking to a good routine of taking your preventer as prescribed will cut your risk of symptoms and an asthma attack.
It could mean you stay symptom-free, so you can get on with what you want to do in life without asthma getting in the way.
3. Carry your reliever inhaler with you everywhere
Always carry your reliever inhaler with you, so you can deal with unexpected symptoms quickly.
Your action plan can help you spot any symptoms that show your asthma is getting worse. If you act quickly you can reduce the risk of an asthma attack.
If you’re using your reliever inhaler three or more times a week, it’s a sign your asthma is getting worse and you need to see your GP or asthma nurse urgently.
4. Check your inhaler technique
There are so many different types of inhaler out there it can be hard to know if you’re using yours in the right way.
Good inhaler technique makes a big difference to how much medicine gets into your airways where it’s needed. If you get it right, you should notice fewer symptoms.
Taking your inhaler in the right way also means you can help prevent side effects from the medicine staying in your mouth.
We’ve got videos showing how to use lots of different inhalers and spacers so you can check your technique right now. And ask your doctor or asthma nurse to check it for you too every time you go for your asthma review.
5. Go for an annual asthma review
A once-a-year asthma review is a chance to update your asthma action plan and get your inhaler technique checked.
You can make sure you’re taking the right medicines at the right doses to keep your symptoms under control.
It’s worth going even if you’re feeling well with your asthma, so you can make sure you’re still doing all the right things to reduce the risk of an asthma attack.
“If you notice symptoms getting worse, or if you’re using your reliever inhaler three or more times a week, book an extra appointment so you can get more support in keeping your asthma under control,” says Dr Andy.
If you smoke, get support to quit
Smoking makes asthma symptoms worse and puts you at much higher risk of an asthma attack. It also means your asthma medicines won’t work as well.
“Even if you’re sticking to your preventer routine, and doing everything right to manage your asthma, you won’t see the full benefits if you smoke,” says Dr Andy.
Get some advice on weight loss to improve symptoms
If you know you’re overweight, ask your doctor or asthma nurse about support to help you lose some weight.
Losing some weight if you need to can make a real difference to your asthma and how well you can manage it.
Get active to boost your asthma health
Getting active is good for your asthma, improving stamina and helping your lungs work better. It’s also good for boosting your immune system, so you’ve got some defence against colds and viruses which are asthma triggers.
“For some people exercise can be an asthma trigger,” says Dr Andy. “If you notice your usual asthma symptoms when you’re exercising see your GP or asthma nurse.”
Ask your doctor or asthma nurse about the flu vaccine
Even if you have mild asthma, flu can trigger asthma symptoms and put you at risk of an asthma attack.
You can support your asthma management by getting the flu vaccine every autumn so you’re ready for flu season.
If you have any questions about how you can manage your asthma better, you can call the Asthma UK Helpline on 0300 222 5800 (Mon – Fri; 9am – 5pm) and speak to our asthma nurse specialists.
Or you can Whatsapp them on 07378 606 728.
If you're looking for information for a child, please visit our section on managing your child's asthma.
If you’ve been diagnosed with severe asthma, you need to do some specific things to look after it, so visit our page on how to manage severe asthma
Last updated December 2019
Next review due December 2022