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Live a Healthy Life While You Keep Asthma Under Control

Health Net Helps You Manage Your Asthma

Mother with child



Asthma is a long-term condition that affects kids and adults. It happens when the muscles around the small airways in the lungs get inflamed and tighten.

  • In 2019 alone, asthma affected anestimated 262 million people.1
  • It caused 461,000 deaths.

However, asthma is in your control. You can life a healthy, productive life!

What are asthma symptoms?2

Asthma happens when the muscles around the small airways in the lungs get inflamed and tighten. The airways narrow and cause symptoms such as:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness

These symptoms come and go. They are often worse at night or during exercise.


man on bicycle with inhaler

Your Asthma Triggers2

Common items or "triggers" can cause asthma symptoms. They can also make them worse. It is hard to find one direct cause of asthma. But, you may get asthma if:
woman with dog

There are many types of asthma brought on by different triggers. Knowing what asthma type you have, can help with your treatment.

  • A family member has asthma. You have a higher risk if a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, has asthma.
  • You have other allergic conditions: eczema, rhinitis (hay fever), etc.
  • You had an early life event that affected how your lungs developed. These include:
    • Low birth weight
    • Premature birth
    • Exposure to tobacco smoke
    • Air pollution
    • Viral bronchial infections
  • Allergens and irritants can increase the risk of asthma:
    • Indoor and outdoor air pollution
    • Animal fur and feathers
    • House dust mites
    • Molds
    • On-the-job exposure to chemicals, fumes or dust
    • Strong soaps
    • Perfume

Note: Kids and adults who are overweight have a greater risk of asthma.

Stay away from triggers

Avoid your triggers! Do your part to lessen their impact. Each person's triggers are different. See your doctor to help you figure out what might trigger your asthma.

Types of Asthma3

Adult-Onset Asthma

This is when an adult develops asthma and did not have it as a child. The person avoided triggers for years. However, an asthma symptom develops when someone is triggered as an adult.

Examples include:

  • Moving in with a roommate who has a pet
  • Working around certain chemical fumes for the first time
  • Viral infection

Allergic Asthma

There is often a link between allergies and asthma. Not everyone who has allergies has asthma. Not everyone with asthma has allergies. But, allergens such as pollen, dust and pet dander can trigger asthma symptoms. They can also trigger asthma attacks in some people.

Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome (ACOS)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of lung diseases. They cause breathing problems and obstruct airflow.

This group can include:

  • Severe asthma
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic bronchitis

Most people with asthma will not develop COPD. And, many people with COPD don't have asthma. Still, it is possible to have both. ACOS occurs when someone has these two diseases at once.

Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB)

EIB is the preferred term for exercise-induced asthma. Symptoms develop when airways narrow due to exercise. As many as 90 percent of people with asthma also have EIB, but not everyone with EIB has asthma.

Many elite and world-class athletes have EIB – such as Olympic medal winners. EIB didn't hold them back, and it should not hold you back either! Your allergist can create a treatment plan that includes the exercise you love. Plus, you can feel better while doing it.

Non-allergenic Asthma

A non-allergenic asthma attack can flare up in extreme weather – either in the summer heat or in the winter cold. Catching a cold or even stress can also trigger your asthma.

Occupational Asthma

This happens with people who work around:

  • Chemical Fumes
  • Dust
  • Other Irritants in the Air

Asthma caused by another trigger can get worse by airborne particles at work. If you have asthma, and you think your workplace is making your symptoms worse, contact your allergist for help with a treatment plan.

Control and Prevent Asthma

mother carrying child

Asthma medications

The types and doses of asthma medications depend on:

  • Age
  • Symptoms
  • Severity of asthma
  • Side effects

Keep your asthma under control

You can prevent – and control – asthma. Keep your asthma under control and live a normal life. You can work, play and avoid sleep disruption caused by asthma symptoms.

Ways to control your asthma:

  • Set up routine doctor visits
  • Check your breathing (as your doctor recommends)
  • Take medicine as advised
  • Stay away from things that trigger attacks
  • Exercise often
  • Learn about triggers, medicines, treatments, etc.

Poor asthma control

Poor asthma control can lead to asthma symptoms. Contact your doctor if:

  • Symptoms wake you up at night
  • You use quick-relief medicine more often
  • You need to visit the emergency room

Controller medication vs. rescue medications

Controller (daily) medications help improve your asthma over time

Use it daily to:

  • lower swelling in the lungs
  • prevent asthma attacks
  • lessen symptoms long-term

Rescue (quick relief) medications provide emergency help for asthma attacks

Take it when needed:

  • when you have trouble breathing
  • to relieve symptoms short-term

Metered dose inhaler

Many asthma medicines let you breathe them right into your lungs through an inhaler. A device called a spacer traps the medicine as it comes out of the inhaler. This makes the medicine easier to breathe in.

Use your inhaler the right way. Here are the steps:

  1. Take off the cap and shake the inhaler.
  2. Breathe out. Get as much air out of your lungs as you can.
  3. Hold the inhaler or spacer in or near your mouth (talk to your doctor)
  4. Breathe in slowly through your mouth. At the same time, push down on the top of the inhaler. Breathe in as deeply as you can.
  5. Hold your breath and slowly count to 10.
  6. If you need to take more than one puff of a short-acting bronchodilator, wait one minute between puffs. With other medicines, you don’t need to wait.

What to do in an emergency

An asthma attack occurs when airways in the lungs become inflamed. This can make it hard to move air in and out. When these symptoms get worse, it becomes very hard to breathe. Follow the steps below to help.

What to do in an asthma attack

  1. Sit up straight and try to stay calm.
  2. Take one puff of your reliever inhaler every 30-60 seconds (up to 10 puffs).
  3. If you don't feel better, call 911 for an ambulance.
  4. Wait for an ambulance and repeat step two every 15 minutes.

Asthma attacks can be life threatening. Seek help if symptoms do not get better.

Go straight to the nearest emergency room or call 911 if you have an emergency.

Teamwork to Manage Your Asthma

Your asthma can change over time. Work closely with your doctor to track your symptoms and adjust your asthma medications.

Asthma Management Program

Health Net has an Asthma Management Program where you can get help and support.

The program can help:

  • You know how to manage your asthma
  • Reduce and avoid ER visits

Through the Asthma Management Program, you can get:

  • Asthma educational materials
  • Outreach calls if you are high-risk
  • Text messages about your asthma action plan

Find Out More

Call Health Net's Health Education Information Line Toll free 800-804-6074 (TTY:711) Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific time.

To learn more about Asthma, visit the Central California Asthma Collaborative (CCAC) website.

1 Global burden of 369 diseases and injuries in 204 countries and territories, 1990-2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Lancet. 2020;396(10258):1204-22
2 World Health Organization: Fact Sheet - Asthma, May, 2021.
3 American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Types of Asthma
4 Different types of inhalers may have other guidelines. Check with your health care provider.

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Please always follow your health careprovider's instructions. Programs and services are subject to change.

Health Net of California, Inc. and Health Net Community Solutions, Inc. are subsidiaries of Health Net, LLC. Health Net is a registered service mark of Health Net, LLC. All rights reserved.

Last Updated: 02/27/2024