We all know the facts. We frequently hear them on the nightly news. Asthma is bad. Asthma is a problem. Asthma is prevalent in Western PA. But how much are we actually doing to combat and control our own disease?

[ File # csp3612444, License # 3307414 ] Licensed through httpwww.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (httpwww.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / rbouwman If you suffer from asthma, as I do, chances are good that you’ve become frustrated with the amount of time and expense it takes to come up with the perfect “cocktail” that will help to control your symptoms. Allergy tests, inhalers, pills, aerosol treatments, ridding your home of triggers and “try this for a month” all become overwhelming. Some of us will choose to live with the symptoms, missed work or school days and curtailing some favorite activities and resign ourselves to the fact that we wheeze and cough. And cough. And cough. But I am here to tell you that you don’t have to do that. There are now more medications than ever available and not all of them are corticosteroids.

If you are the parent of a child with asthma you may have noticed a disconnect between the doctor’s office and treatment at home. This disconnect can most likely be attributed to a lack of proper education for you and your child on his or her treatments. If your child was prescribed a Valved Holding Chamber, commonly referred to as a spacer (although they are not the same thing) for use with an inhaler, did anyone teach you how to use it? Proper technique can make the difference between effective and ineffective treatment. A chamber will deliver a greater amount of medication than using an inhaler alone, but it won’t if it’s being used incorrectly.

What about a Peak Flow Meter? Have you ever heard of that? If you or your child has one, are you aware of the benefits? Are you even using it? This tool is, in my opinion, great for helping manage asthma. It can warn you that you may need to use your rescue meds, but it can tell you that you don’t require any as well. It can also tell you if your medication is working. Education is required for proper use, however.

My job here at Breathe Pennsylvania is to help you understand your asthma, treatment options and how they can help you control your symptoms – But I can also help you if you just don’t know what to ask your physician or how to ask it.  Our website, BreathePA.org, has a great live chat feature where you can ask questions that are delivered directly to me for answers. You can also give us a call at 1-800-220-1990 or ask a question on our Facebook page.

About the author:  Marianne Drevna BS, LRCP has been a practicing Respiratory Therapist for over 30 years in the Pittsburgh Area. She has worked at CHP and provided home durable medical equipment education with a focus on pediatrics since 1991. She currently works at Breathe PA providing asthma education to school-age students, educators, parents, nurses and anyone with a willingness to learn how to better manage their disease.