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Respiratory Update. Asthma: Causes, Monitoring and Treatment. Presented by Cynthia Fouts, June, 2012. Learning Objectives. After viewing this presentation, the learner will be able to: understand the two major classifications of asthma

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respiratory update

Respiratory Update

Asthma: Causes, Monitoring and Treatment

Presented by Cynthia Fouts,

June, 2012

learning objectives

After viewing this presentation, the learner will be able to:

  • understand the two major classifications of asthma
  • list ways to decrease the patient’s exposure to asthma triggers
  • coach the patient in performing peak flow measurements
  • write an asthma plan
  • classify asthma severity
  • choose correct management techniques based on severity.
  • Asthma used to be viewed as a condition that a person gets, is treated, and suffers no lasting damage.
  • Recent studies have shown that each asthma exacerbation leaves airway damage behind.
  • In addition to physical damage, asthma exacerbations result in loss of productivity (both for adults at work and children in school).
  • Asthma sufferers also report that asthma affects their activities and enjoyment of life
asthma types
Asthma Types:

There are two major types of asthma:

  • Intrinsic – also known as nonallergic or nonatopic
  • Extrinsic – also known as allergic or atopic
  • Etiology – elusive
  • Usually occurs after 40 years of age
  • Non-specific stimuli:
    • Infections
    • Cold Air Exposure
    • Exercise
    • Esophageal Reflux
    • Emotional Stress
    • Pollutants
    • Food Additives, Food Preservatives
  • clearly associated with exposure to a specific antigenic agent
  • Type I anaphylactic hypersensitivity reaction
  • IgE-mediated allergic reaction
  • Family related
  • Usually appears in children
  • Hypersensitivity immune response causes the disease by causing acute and chronic inflammation
decreasing exposure to triggers
Decreasing exposure to triggers:
  • Tobacco smoke
    • Quit if smoker
    • Smoke-free environments (car & house)
  • Dust mites
    • Encase mattress in special dust-mite free cover
    • Encase pillow in special dust-mite free cover or wash every week in hot water or cool water/bleach
    • Reduce indoor humidity to <60%
    • Do not sleep on cloth covered cushions or furniture
    • Remove carpets from bedroom and from concrete
    • Stuffed toys
      • Keep out of the bed
      • Wash weekly in hot water or cool water/bleach
decreasing triggers cont d
Decreasing triggers, cont’d.
  • Animal Dander
    • Keep animal with fur out of the home
    • Keep pet out of bedroom and keep door closed
    • Remove carpet and cloth-covered furniture
  • Cockroach
    • Keep all food out of the bedroom
    • Keep food and garbage in closed containers
    • Use poison baits, traps and powders instead of sprays
decreasing triggers cont d1
Decreasing triggers, cont’d.
  • Vacuum cleaning
    • Try to get someone else to come in and do the vacuuming once or twice a week
    • If do it yourself, use a mask, central vac system or vacuum with a HEPA filter
  • Indoor mold
    • Fix leaky faucets and pipes
    • Clean moldy surfaces
    • Dehumidify basements
decreasing triggers cont d2
Decreasing triggers, cont’d.
  • Pollen and Outdoor Mold
    • Keep windows closed during peak allergy seasons
    • Stay inside during midday and afternoon
    • Talk to doctor about anti-inflammatory meds before allergy season starts
  • Smoke, Strong Odors and Sprays
    • If possible do not use wood burning stove, kerosene heater, fireplace, or any unvented heater
    • Stay away from new paint, new carpet, hair spray, perfumes
decreasing triggers cont d3
Decreasing triggers, cont’d.
  • Exercise or Sports
    • Check air quality index and avoid outside activitywhen air pollution or pollen levels high
    • Warm up before exercising
    • Should be able to be active without symptoms; if not talk to dr. about taking meds before activity to prevent symptoms
  • Other triggers
    • Avoid Sulfites in foods – beer or wine, shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes
    • Cold air – cover mouth and nose with scarf
    • Other meds – tell doctor about all meds you are taking
daily monitoring
Daily monitoring
  • All asthma patients should use a peak flow meter to monitor their daily symptoms.
  • A peak flow meter is a small hand-held device which measures the speed which a patient can exhale.
  • Measurement is in Liters/minute.
  • Easy to use – even children who can follow simple directions can use it.
  • Many times a peak flow meter will show a decrease in flow before the patient feels an increased shortness of breath.
how to use a peak flow meter
How to Use a Peak Flow Meter
  • Have patient in upright position
  • Instruct to place mouthpiece into their mouth but do not obstruct the opening with their tongue
  • Firmly seal lips around mouthpiece
  • Take a big breath in
  • BLAST out the breath – hard and fast!!!
  • Note reading
  • Reset meter to zero
  • Repeat process twice more and record the best reading
asthma zone management system
Asthma Zone Management System

This system is a process of daily monitoring using a peak flow meter, daily recording of results, and treatment based on those results.

charting peak flow zones
Charting Peak Flow & Zones

You will note on the preceeding example of a Peak Flow Chart that there were green, yellow, and red columns. These columns represent the 80-100%, 50-80%, and <50% zones of the patient’s personal best. The personal best is the best of two weeks of measurements made during a time when the patient’s asthma is well controlled.

written action plan
Written Action Plan

Written asthma action plans include two important elements:

  • Daily management
  • Recognition and handling worsening


daily management
Daily Management
  • Monitoring with a peak flow meter
  • Recording of peak flow measurement
  • What medications to take every day; when and how to take them
recognition and handling worsening symptoms
Recognition and Handling Worsening Symptoms
  • What symptoms and PF measurements indicate worsening asthma (yellow zone)
  • What medications to take in response to these signs and symptoms
  • What symptoms and PEF measurements indicate the need for urgent medical attention (red zone)
  • Emergency telephone numbers for the physician, ED, and person or service to transport the patient rapidly for medical care
treatment regimen
Treatment Regimen
  • Note that the medications ordered for a patient are associated with the severity rating of their asthma.
  • It is important to educate the patient on the correct administration of MDI’s and DPI’s to ensure adequate intake of the medications.
  • It is possible to control almost all asthma with medication and avoidance of triggers.

Des Jardins, T. and Burton, G. (2006). Clinical Manifestations and Assessment of Respiratory Disease. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier. pg. 197-206.

Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma (EPR-3). (2007) National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.Retrieved from

Measuring Your Peak Flow Rate. (2012) American Lung Association. Retrieved from

National Asthma Control Initiative. (2008) National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Retrieved from