the best way to prevent an asthma attack is to keep your asthma in control. Many people have asthma triggered by seasonal allergies, so managing your seasonal allergies is a good first step to treating your asthma. You can get over the counter non-drowsy antihistamines for very low prices at most pharmacies or even discount centers like Costco. During your allergy season don't go outside unless you have to, and run your a/c in your car on recycle. Change the filters in your home and car a/c.
The next step to controlling your asthma is to remove likely irritants from your home and workspace. If you can, get rid of upholstery, carpeting and draperies, or have them cleaned regularly. These things catch dust and dander and can trigger asthma. Also, cockroaches are a common asthma trigger. If you live in an old home or building you probably have roach droppings hiding in dark corners. Clean them and keep the roaches out.
Stay away from second hand smoke. Pay attention to the ozone advisories in your town. Don't light a fire in your fireplace and don't hang around campfires - wood smoke is a common asthma trigger.
You do not need an x-ray to diagnose asthma. Get yourself a peak flow monitor from the pharmacy and check your peak flow (ask the pharmacist how to do that) before and after you use a rescue inhaler. Your baseline value is the one after use of the rescue inhaler. You should get into the habit of checking your peak flow every day, and when you feel short of breath. If your peak flow drops by 10% of your baseline (I think that's the caution point, ask your pharmacist) then your asthma is not in control.
If you have done your best to control your triggers and you still can't keep your asthma under control you will need an inhaled steroid like pulmicort. This is a pretty expensive med, but if you don't use it your asthma will get worse and you may end up in the ER with a giant bill or worse, dead. I just read today that each day 9 people in the US die from asthma attacks. I'm sure some of them started out with mild disease.
Last thing is to beware of colds and other respiratory viruses. These often make asthma flare. You should get a flu shot to prevent a full blown asthma disaster triggered by influenza. You should wash your hands frequently and avoid contact with people who have colds. If you do feel that you are getting a cold, you should start using your preventative inhaler (the steroid one) right away.
50 yrs old, IBD diagnosis in spring '01. Proctitis, gastritis, ileitis.
Pentasa (3g/day)generic Colazal ( 96 pills/day), Sulfazine (1.5 g/day), Prevacid, folic acid, vit. D (2K iu), flax seed oil (2 tsp/day), psyllium (1/2T daily), mesalamine enema as needed. Gluten free as of 5/30/11. Colonoscopy found no evidence of inflammation on 8/16/1