Updated 09 January 2019

How to measure your asthma control

Do you whether your asthma is under control? Do this test.

Asthma control is measured according to many factors. These include:

  • Lung function
  • Direct or indirect inflammation
  • Missed work or school days
  • Symptoms during the day
  • Symptoms at night
  • Symptoms during exercise or other activities
  • Use of a quick-relief inhaler/rescue treatment and/or the use of a nebuliser
  • Asthma exacerbations (episodes of progressively worsening shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing and chest tightness)

Test your asthma control
Answer the questions below as accurately as possible, as this will form the baseline against which you can measure your asthma control.

Read each question twice before answering and check whether the question refers to the ‘past month’, ‘past week’, ‘night’ or ‘day’. Your doctor can only guide you in managing your asthma once your level of asthma control has been established.

Question 1: How many times during the past month did you wake up at night due to asthma symptoms (shortness of breath, tightness of chest, wheezing, coughing)?

  • None
  • 1 or more times per month

Question 2: How many times during the past week did you have asthma symptoms (shortness of breath, tightness of chest, wheezing, coughing) during the day?

  • None
  • 1 or 2 times per week
  • 3 or more times per week

Question 3: How often do you use your reliever pump or nebuliser (if applicable) in a week?

  • None
  • 1 or 2 times per week
  • 3 or more times per week

Question 4: How many times have you received emergency treatment, or rushed to the doctor or hospital for treatment during the past 12 months?

  • None
  • 1 or more times per year

Question 5: Did your asthma affect or limit your usual activities (cleaning house, exercise etc) in any way?

  • No
  • Yes

If you’ve responded as follows, then your asthma is controlled:

Question 1 = None

Question 2 = None, or 1 or 2 times per week

Question 3 = None, or 1 or 2 times per week

Question 4 = None

Question 5 = None

If you haven’t responded as above, your asthma isn’t controlled. Speak to your doctor about improving your asthma control.

Reviewed by independent healthcare consultant Prof Praneet Valodia and pulmonologist Prof Elvis Irusen, Head of the Division of Pulmonology at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University. October 2018.


Ask the Expert

Asthma Expert

Professor Keertan Dheda has received of several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others.Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute

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