Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.



Asthma affects the small breathing tubes (bronchial tubes) in your lungs. Some people with asthma are sensitive to certain "triggers" that can affect the airways and make it hard to breathe. When you are exposed to one or more of your triggers, 3 reactions occur:

  • The insides of your breathing tubes swell up (inflammation).
  • Your body makes lots of thick, sticky fluid (mucus) inside your breathing tubes.
  • The muscles surrounding your breathing tubes get tight and make the air passages smaller (bronchospasm).

This makes it hard to breathe. This is called an asthma flare-up or exacerbation

Asthma medications work to control the inflammation. When your asthma is well controlled, you should not have breathing problems and you will be able to do whatever activities you want to do.

Normal lung

Normal airway

Airway in asthma flare-up


Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma. It is triggered by substances called allergens that you breathe into your lungs. The most common allergens are:

  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander (most common triggers are from cats and dogs)
  • Pollen (grasses, trees or weeds)
  • Molds

Asthma can also be triggered by:

  • Cold or flu viruses
  • Smoke (tobacco)
  • Pollution
  • Exercise 
  • Cold dry air 
  • Anxiety 
  • Stress


Asthma is probably caused by many factors, including your:

  • Genes
  • Immune system
  • Lung development and growth in early childhood
  • Exposure to infections and allergens in the environment

Asthma Triggers

Triggers can cause your asthma symptoms to get worse

If you avoid your triggers and limit your exposure to those you cannot avoid, you may need less medicine to keep your asthma in control.

The most common types of asthma triggers are:

  • Allergies (caused by allergens)
  • Infections (including viral infections)
  • Air pollutants, smoke, and other irritants
  • Physical activity

Less common asthma triggers include:

  • Stress
  • Changes in weather
  • Humidity or changes in elevation
  • Aspirin or other aspirin-like drugs, such as ibuprofen
  • Preservatives (sulfites)

Enlarged photo of microscopic dust mite


Asthma symptoms may be different for each person. Your symptoms may not even be the same each time you have a flare-up. Common symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • A tight feeling in the chest
  • Wheezing (breathing with a whistling sound)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing


We diagnose asthma based on your symptoms, medical history, and physical exam. We may also perform a lung function test called spirometry.

Keep track of any patterns related to your symptoms, and tell us about them. You may want to keep an asthma diary to track your symptoms. For example:

  • Are your symptoms worse in the spring or in the fall (allergy seasons)?
  • Does exercise, a respiratory infection, or exposure to cold air trigger an attack?
  • Do you have a family history of asthma or allergic disorders, such as eczema, hives, or hay fever?
  • Have you had any occupational or long-term exposure to chemicals?
  • Do you have fewer symptoms on weekends or vacations?

Lung Function Testing

A lung function test (spirometry) measures the air breathed into and out of your lungs. It is more accurate than using a peak flow meter and may be used to confirm your asthma diagnosis. This helps rule out other health conditions that have symptoms similar to asthma.

The results may tell us if medication will be helpful in treating your condition. We conduct the test in the clinic. It usually takes about 30 to 60 minutes.

Living with Your Condition

When your asthma is under control, you can live a healthy, symptom-free life. You should be able to:

  • Work or attend school without any limitation.
  • Play sports and be active.
  • Sleep without being awakened by asthma symptoms.
  • Use your quick-relief medication no more than 2 days a week (other than for physical activity).
  • Avoid Emergency Department visits.

Asthma symptoms can change throughout the year. Sometimes your symptoms will be in better control than at other times. By keeping track of your symptoms, you can predict when a flare-up is coming and do something about it before it gets worse.

Managing your asthma every day

Here are some tips for helping you to manage your asthma during your busy day:

  • Take your medicines as prescribed.
  • Make sure your medicines are always available to you, including when you travel.
  • Keep a copy of your asthma self-management plan with you.
  • Talk with your supervisor about anything you need at work to control your asthma, such as keeping your work area free of triggers.


Medications are one of the keys to treating your asthma. Most people need more than one type of medicine to manage asthma.

There are 3 types of asthma medicines:

  • Control medicines (also called "preventers" or "controllers"). You should take these medicines every day to control your asthma and prevent asthma symptoms and flare-ups. Examples include Singular, Qvar, and Dulera.
  • "Quick-relief" or “rescue” medicines ("relievers"). Use these medicines to relieve asthma symptoms quickly, and to prevent flare-ups. This is important before physical activity or if you know you may come into contact with any of your triggers. Rescue medications do not reduce inflammation (swelling or mucus). Albuterol is an example of a reliever.
  • Flare-up reversing medicines ("burst" medicines). Use these medicines for a severe flare-up of your symptoms. Prednisone is an example.

Flu Shots and Pneumococcal Vaccine

The flu, pneumonia, and meningitis are caused by viruses and bacteria that often lead to asthma flare-ups or exacerbations. Annual flu shots and the pneumococcal vaccine protect against these viruses and bacteria.

Related Health Tools:

Interactive Programs

If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder.

This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.