A national panel of experts* makes it clear: asthma is a chronic disease that varies over time, depending upon each individual’s circumstances. This means that the dosage of medication used to control your asthma must be monitored and sometimes "stepped up" or "stepped down" to achieve asthma control and then manage your symptoms.
When you are first diagnosed with asthma, your doctor may prescribe increasingly higher dosages of an asthma controller medication until you consistently sleep well at night, stay active during the day and avoid emergency room visits or hospitalization.
Once you’ve achieved these goals, you and your doctor can work together to adjust your treatment so you need the least amount of medication(s) possible to maintain good asthma control.
This approach to asthma treatment is called stepwise. Your allergist will gradually increase or decrease – “step up” or “step down” – your medication doses until the best balance is found.
It is extremely important to take your medications as directed. Do not assume that you can decrease your dosage or stop taking a medication simply because you do not have symptoms. The purpose of the medication is to help you remain symptom-free. Talk to your doctor if you think your medications should be altered.
*The NAEPP Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma
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This article has been reviewed by Andrew Moore, MD, FAAAAI