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Know How to Use Your Emergency Medicines to Treat Asthma and Allergy Symptoms

 

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and MedicAlert have teamed up to help you manage your asthma and allergies prevent life-threatening emergencies.

Make a pact to “ACT” to manage your asthma and allergies:

When you enroll in a new MedicAlert membership through this special link or via phone [1.800.432.5378], use the code AAFA and MedicAlert will donate 20% of your membership fees to support our mission to save lives and reduce the burden of disease for people with asthma and allergies through support, advocacy, education and research.


Know How and When to Use Your Medicines Before an Emergency Happens

When you have asthma or allergies, it is important that you know both how and when to use your medicines before you have a medical emergency. When you have asthma, you may have more than one medicine to both prevent and treat asthma emergencies.

Your action plan will tell you what medicine to use and when. Make sure you are familiar with your action plan so you know what to do in an emergency.

How Do I Use an Asthma Inhaler?

When you have asthma, your doctor may prescribe three types of asthma inhalers: long-term control inhalers, quick-relief inhalers and combination inhalers.

A long-term control (also called "maintenance" or "preventer") inhaler is an inhaler you take every day, even when you are feeling well. It helps keep your asthma under control to reduce your chance of having an asthma episode or attack. This medicine helps you stay in the Green Zone on your Asthma Action Plan.

You use a quick-relief (also called "rescue") inhaler at the first sign of asthma symptoms to keep them from getting worse. You may also take it before you exercise or when you have a cold or other respiratory illness. Your doctor will have you take your quick-relief inhaler when you are in the Yellow or Red Zone on your Asthma Action Plan.

Some inhalers have two medicines (called a "combination" or "combo" inhaler) that can be used for both quick-relief and long-term control medicines.

Some people may use a nebulizer instead of an inhaler to take asthma medicines. A nebulizer is a machine that delivers asthma medicine in the form of a mist.*

It's good to be familiar with the types of asthma medicines you take. Our asthma medicine database allows you to search for medicines by type, name and use so you can learn more about them.

Many people make mistakes when they use their asthma inhalers, even if they don't realize it. Up to 92% of people with asthma use their inhaler incorrectly. If your medicine isn’t reaching your lungs, your asthma might be harder to control. Uncontrolled asthma can make breathing emergencies more likely.

This video shows you how to use an inhaler with a spacer and talks about other inhaler types so you can make sure your asthma medicine is getting to your lungs where it needs to be.

Watch on YouTube

How Do I Use an Epinephrine Device?

An epinephrine device injects medicine into your outer mid-thigh. While this device may be easy to use, each type may have a different safety feature, such as a cap you have to remove before you can use it. This is why it's important for you to learn how to use the specific device you carry.

Kids With Food Allergies (a division of AAFA) has a list of all of the current epinephrine devices and links to training videos. Find your device and watch the training video so you know how to use it.

Are Other Treatment Options Available?

There is no cure for asthma or allergies, only treatment and prevention. But there may be other options to help you better manage them.

If you have allergies or allergic asthma, you may be able to get immunotherapy - allergy shots and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). Allergy shots have allergens that you get in an increasing dose over time. SLIT is small doses of an allergen that you put under your tongue.

Immunotherapy can help you become less sensitive to your allergens. If you have an allergy to stinging insects, they may make you less sensitive to their venom and less likely to have a serious reaction.

Controlling the allergens in your home, at work or at school can help you reduce asthma symptoms and allergic reactions. CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® products can help you reduce your exposure to allergens and asthma triggers and create healthier environments.

If you have a food allergy, you may be able to do oral immunotherapy (OIT). With these treatments, you eat a increasing amounts of your food allergen until you reach a target amount. You then eat a small amount of the food regularly, usually daily. This may allow you to eat your food allergen regularly with less chance of having a reaction as long as you continue treatment.

Talk to your doctor about which treatments may be best for you. You can work together to create a long-term treatment plan.

Prepare, Care and Share

Share this image and tweets to spread awareness:

  1. In honor of Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, I'm making a pact to A.C.T. for Asthma and Allergy. By working together, we can reduce severe asthma attacks and allergic reactions: aafa.org/act #act4asthma #act4allergy via @AAFANational Tweet This

  2. T is for Treatment: Talk with your doctor about #asthma treatments that may work for you. Use your medicines as prescribed. Practice how to use your emergency medicines. aafa.org/act #act4asthma via @AAFANational Tweet This



*During the COVID-19 pandemic, use an inhaler (with a spacer) if you need to take quick-relief medicine (such as albuterol) for an asthma episode, if possible. Using a nebulizer can increase the risk of sending virus particles in the air if you are sick. But if you have a nebulizer and solution, it is OK to use it to treat an asthma episode. When using a nebulizer, limit the number of people in the room or use it in a room by yourself.

Get the support you need to manage your asthma and allergies. Join our community to follow our blog for the latest asthma and allergy education, news and research. Our community also gives you the chance to connect with others who manage asthma and allergies in an encouraging and supportive environment.

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