Asthma symptoms, like symptoms with any prolonged illness, can vary from time to time, season to season. Monitoring your symptoms is important; you’ve got to be vigilant, because even the mildest onset of one thing, untreated, can mean big trouble down the road. It’s important to listen to your body and respond to the cries for help it gives out. See your doctor. Tell them what’s wrong. Or there’s a big chance ‘a little something’ can turn into a big deal, real quick.
I can never say it too much: communication with your doctor is paramount. You both should go through and create a written plan of action. This will give you hints, suggestions, and red flags so you’re more aware of what to look out for and are prepared when symptoms creep up. Sample plans are available online or you can speak with your doctor and they may have ideas about what’s worked for their patients in the past. For this discussion today, let’s say there are three ‘zones’ in the life of an asthmatic.
Only your doctor can tell you where you fit in this schism, what these zones involve, and about the three different plans of action for what you need to do, and how fast, in different situations.
THE GREEN ZONE:
This is the ideal place to be. No symptoms, you are able to stretch yourself to the limits of your abilities, participate in normal, everyday activities, and even exert yourself to perform at your peak physical limits for decent periods of time. School or work isn’t, at this point, posing a problem and your sleep is uninterrupted through the night. Your reliever inhaler is used no more than four times a week for symptoms (save prior to physical exertion) and all else with your breathing is well. In the green zone is equivalent to your asthma being totally under control. If you’re on controller medication, continue to take those until you’re doctor says you can stop.
THE YELLOW ZONE:
Do your asthma symptoms worsen during regular activities? Is sleep disturbed because of your asthma? Are you missing work or school due to asthma symptoms? Are you suffering from cold or chest infection? Do you need to take your reliever medication more than four times a day? You are in the yellow zone. You need to speak to your doctor right away, as you’re losing control and you’re very near slipping into.
THE RED ZONE:
Excessive coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest or labored breathing. You find yourself gasping for air, sweating, you have unattribuited anxiety, decreased activity level, your reliever medication isn’t working, you’ve even got blue lips or fingernails. You need to get help immediately.
Most asthma attacks are not sudden and are readily treatable in the yellow zone or by maintenance using your inhaler and other steroids. But you should always keep phone numbers and the name of your physician and close family members nearby, in the event the air you are gasping for can’t relay this important information.