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Monday, April 26, 2010

How to know YOU're being a good asthma patient

Part of being a good asthma patient, and gaining control of your asthma, is to maintain a good relationship with your doctor. A few weeks ago I wrote about how to know if your doctor is keeping up on his end of the bargain (click here). In this post, I describe how YOU can keep up on your end of the bargain.

You and Your Asthma Doctor Must Be An Asthma Control Team

By Rick Frea, April 21, 2010 @

Most asthma experts and guidelines recommend the best way to gain control of your asthma is to create a partnership with your asthma doctor. That's right, YOU need to work WITH your asthma doctor.

Modern research has proven that the more you're doctor is in tune with you the better controlled your asthma will be.

I recently had a patient say to me, "Every time my doctor leaves the room I feel I have twice as many questions as when he came in."

Later, after he finished his breathing treatment, he said, "I don't even know why I'm getting treatments, they don't do me any good."

While I was searching my brain for a good response, he said, "Well, I guess my doctor ordered 'em, so I must need 'em."

I said, "You're paying him to take care of you. YOU are the boss, not the other way around. You should work WITH your doctor to control your asthma, not for him."

"Oh," he said, "I never thought of it that way."

I used to be the same way with my doctor. It's easy just to "assume" he knows all, and to take it for granted he's doing a good job. But is he really?

To help your doctor be the best asthma doctor he can be, the National Heart, lung and Blood Institute set recommendations for your asthma doctor to follow in it's Asthma Guidelines. I wrote about this here.

A doctor shouldn't simply enter your room, assess you in a rush, check you over and be gone in a flash, leaving you with more questions than when he came. If this describes your doctor, perhaps it's time to seek a new one.

A Gallant asthma doctor should anticipate your needs, answer all your questions, and work with you in deciding what needs to be done to control your asthma.

While you'll want your doctor to live up to his end of the bargain, you need to do the same. You need to keep up on your asthma wisdom too (which you're doing by hanging out here on this site).

Likewise, you'll need to be a Gallant Asthmatic.

  • Take your meds as prescribed
  • Use a spacer with your rescue inhaler
  • Use your peak flow meter daily to monitor your asthma, and record the results in your asthma journal.
  • Know your personal signs and symptoms of asthma.
  • Know your asthma triggers and how to avoid them.
  • Follow your asthma action plan to a T.
  • Keep an asthma journal (a simple notebook will do) and bring it to your doctor's appointments. It's hard to remember how your asthma was doing two to three weeks ago, so this can help you and your doctor manage your asthma long-term. (click here for an example journal).
  • Show up to your appointments on time and with questions.
  • Never leave an appointment with questions unanswered.

Instead of your doctor just "assuming" your asthma is controlled, he can look at your asthma journal to get a true assessment of how well controlled your asthma has been since your last appointment.

You'll need to work with him to learn what your asthma triggers are. He may recommend allergy testing, and you'll have to be vigilant to what else triggers your asthma (such as cigarette smoke or strong perfume) and learn to avoid those things.

You'll need to work with him to create an asthma action plan, and together you can make adjustments based on your description of how well your asthma is controlled, and your asthma journal.

You'll need to work with him to determine the best treatment plan. If your asthma remains uncontrolled, he may recommend new meds to try, and so can you based on your own research.

Yet only through your efforts, by being observant, and by keeping up on your asthma journal, will your doctor get a true and reliable picture of how the current course of treatment is working.

So, you can see, it's important you and your doctor work together, as an asthma control team, to get your asthma under the best control possible.

1 comment:

Heather said...

I have a question about the spacer. I have one, and it literally honks if I breathe in too quickly. I understand that that is the reason it makes noise, but do I *really* have to inhale as slowly as my spacer 'wants' me to?