You should continue to visit your doctor regularly to check how well your
asthma is being controlled. In general, patients with even mild intermittent
asthma should see their doctor about every 6 months. Those patients with more
severe asthma usually need to be seen more often.
To prepare for each doctor's visit:
- Answer the questions in the quiz, Is Your Asthma
- Bring your inhaler, spacer, medicines, and peak flow meter with you, so
your doctor or nurse can watch your technique.
- Bring your daily record chart, which has the peak flow values you wrote
down, symptoms you had, and other factors that affected your asthma.
One of your doctor's goals is to find the optimal level of medication needed
to keep your asthma under control. If your medications are lowered to a point
where your symptoms return, then they will usually need to be bumped back up
a little. This is why it can be so helpful for you to keep a daily record chart.
A chart helps you keep track of how well you did as your medications were adjusted.
Based on the results of the visit and how you answered the questions, the
doctor may need to adjust your medication and give you new written instructions
(a new action plan).
Who should you see?
Asthma can be managed by a pediatrician, family doctor, or primary care provider.
Allergists and respiratory specialists have specific training in the care of
asthma and in some cases may be more familiar with current clinical guidelines,
such as the National Institutes of Health asthma guidelines. Some patients
may wish to go to an allergist or other specialist for a second opinion or
to get the initial treatment plan established.
There are times you probably should see an allergist for evaluation. These
- You have had a life-threatening asthma episode.
- Your treatment plan does not bring your asthma under control after 3 weeks
- 6 months.
- You have other conditions that complicate a diagnosis (such as sinusitis,
nasal polyps, severe allergies, vocal cord dysfunction, gastroesophageal
reflux, bronchitis, or emphysema).
- Additional testing is required (for example, for allergy shots).
- You have "severe persistent" asthma, require continuous high-dose inhaled
steroids, or have had more than two treatments with oral steroids in more
than a year.
- The patient is 3 years old or under and
has moderate-to-severe asthma.
Regardless of whether you see a specialist or not, find a doctor who is interested
in working with you as a team player. Try to keep track of important information
in your daily log, so your doctor will be better able to help you. Remember
-- asthma is a condition that can be managed!
Williams SG, Schmidt DK, Redd SC, Storms W. Key clinical activities for quality
asthma care: recommendations of the National Asthma Education and Prevention
Program. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2003 Mar 28;52(RR-6):1-8.
Review Date: 5/16/2007
Reviewed By: Alan Greene, M.D., F.A.A.P., Department of Pediatrics, Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University School of Medicine; Chief Medical Officer, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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