Managing asthma in adults

Managing your asthma well lowers your risk of symptoms and asthma attacks.

What is good asthma management?

Your GP, nurse or pharmacist can support you to manage your asthma well.

If your asthma is well controlled, you should be able to:

  • do things at home, work and in your free time without asthma getting in the way
  • carry on with your usual daily activities without feeling breathless
  • sleep well without asthma symptoms waking you up at night
  • manage your asthma every day with little or no reliever medicine.

Asthma Control Test (ACT)

Your GP or nurse may ask you how your asthma has been using a set of questions.

You can check if you have good asthma control now by doing the Asthma Control Test and getting a report.

How to manage your asthma well

Your GP, nurse or other healthcare professional can support you to manage your asthma well in between appointments.

Looking after your asthma, with support, is known as ‘self-management.’

You can make sure you keep well with your asthma by:

Using an asthma action plan

Using an asthma action plan helps you manage your symptoms, so you’re less likely to end up in hospital with your asthma.

An asthma action plan reminds you how to look after your asthma every day, what to do if your asthma gets worse. It also tells you what to do if you have an asthma attack.

Find out more about asthma action plans.

Taking your preventer or MART inhaler every day as prescribed

If you have a preventer inhaler or a MART inhaler, use it every day as prescribed, even if you feel well.

It stops inflammation building up in your airways, which means you’re less likely to react to your triggers and get symptoms.

Always having your reliever inhaler with you

Always have your reliever inhaler with you, so you can treat symptoms quickly.

Checking your inhaler technique

Using your inhaler in the right way makes a big difference to how much medicine gets into your airways where it’s needed.  If you are using your inhaler correctly, you should notice fewer symptoms.

Good inhaler technique also helps stops the medicine staying in your mouth and causing side effects like a sore throat or oral thrush.

Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to check you’re using your inhaler correctly.

They can also show you how to use a spacer with your inhaler if you’re using a metered dose inhaler (MDI). A spacer can help your technique and make sure the medicine gets to the airways where it’s needed.

You can check your inhaler technique now by watching our inhaler videos.

Going for your asthma review

Everyone with asthma should have an asthma review at least once a year. You can update your asthma action plan and check your inhaler technique.

An asthma review helps make sure you’re taking the right medicines at the right doses to keep your symptoms under control. It’s your chance to talk about ways to manage your symptoms better and lower your risk of an asthma attack.

Using peak flow to monitor your asthma

Peak flow is a measure of how quickly you can blow air out of your lungs.

Monitoring your asthma using a peak flow monitor and diary can show patterns of scores over time. This helps you and your doctor see what your best peak flow score is.

Once you know your own personal best score, it’s easier to notice scores that are lower than that.

If your airways are tight and inflamed, your peak flow score will be lower than normal. This could be a sign your asthma is getting worse.

Monitoring peak flow is most useful:

  • after an asthma attack
  • when your treatment plan has changed.

Talk to your GP or nurse about whether you need to monitor your peak flow, how often and what to do when your scores change.

Find out more about peak flow, what scores mean, and how peak flow can help you monitor your asthma. 


See your GP as soon as possible if:

  • you’re using your blue reliever inhaler three times a week or more
  • you’re regularly using extra doses of your MART inhaler most days
  • you’re using your AIR inhaler most days.

Needing your reliever inhaler often is a sign your asthma is getting worse, and you need to ask your GP or asthma nurse to review your treatment plan.

Other ways to help your asthma

Stop smoking

Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. Smoking makes asthma symptoms worse and puts you at a much higher risk of an asthma attack. It also means your asthma medicines won’t work as well.

There’s a lot of support to help you stop smoking

Get active 

Getting active is good for your asthma and can help your lungs work better.

It’s also good for boosting your immune system, helping you to fight off colds and flu which are also a common asthma trigger.

Find out more about the benefits of physical activity for your lungs.

For some people exercise can be an asthma trigger. If you notice your usual asthma symptoms are worse when you’re exercising, ask your GP or nurse for advice to help you exercise safely.

Keep to a healthy weight

  • Keeping to a healthy weight could make a real difference to your asthma and how well you can manage it. Check your BMI (Body Mass Index) using the NHS BMI calculator. If you’re in the high BMI range talk to your GP or nurse about how to lose weight.
  • If you’re very underweight, you could be missing out on the minerals and vitamins you need to support your immune system and stay well. Talk to your GP or nurse about healthy ways to gain weight.

Find out more about eating well with a lung condition.

Get your vaccines

You can support your asthma management by getting the flu vaccine every autumn so you’re ready for flu season.

Even if you only have asthma symptoms occasionally, flu can make asthma symptoms worse and put you at risk of an asthma attack.

You should also get your covid vaccine or booster, if you’re eligible.

Find out about managing your child’s asthma.

Find out about managing severe asthma

Get support

Call our Helpline for support with your condition. Get advice on your medicines, symptoms or travelling with a lung condition, or just call us to say hello.

Did you find this information useful?

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 0300 222 5800 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

Page last reviewed:
Next review due: