The Importance of Healthcare Visits for Asthma Control

The Importance of Healthcare Visits for Asthma Control

Visits with healthcare providers are an important part of asthma care. Your visits should include a review of your:

  • Asthma control
  • Asthma action plan
  • Triggers
  • Medicines

Of course, if you don’t feel well, call your healthcare provider’s office. Make an appointment in between your scheduled visits.

Asthma control

How often you should see your provider depends on how well your asthma is controlled. Control means:

  • Fewer symptoms

  • Little use of quick-relief or rescue medicines

  • Taking asthma medicines with few or no side effects

  • Being able to take part in daily activities

  • Preventing asthma flare-ups

  • Not needing emergency room or hospital care

Assessing asthma control

Your healthcare provider will figure out how well your asthma is controlled by examining you. He or she may check how well your lungs are working with spirometry testing. Your provider will ask you how asthma affects your daily activities. This is a very important part of checking asthma control. If you have a peak flow meter, keep track of your scores and bring them to your healthcare provider. You should know where your green (good control), yellow (some symptoms start), and red zone areas (serious asthma symptoms) are. He or she might ask you questions about:

  • Nighttime sleep. How many times do your asthma symptoms wake you up at night?

  • Rescue or quick-relief medicine. How many times each day do you use these medicines?

  • Work or school. Have you missed work or school because of asthma?

  • Daily activities. Are there things you can’t do because of asthma?

  • Exercise and activity. Are you able to exercise or be physically active?

  • Outdoors. Does asthma cause you to stay indoors at times?

  • Social events. Do you miss parties or other events because of your asthma?

  • Asthma action plan. Your provider will want to review your plan on each visit.

Asthma action plan

Take a copy of your asthma action plan with you to each visit. That way you can review it with your healthcare provider and write down any changes. Bring blank asthma action plan forms so you can rewrite your plan if there are any changes. Here is a sample asthma action plan to fill out.

Also review how you are monitoring your symptoms. This is done by either closely watching for small changes in symptoms or by peak flow meter readings. If you need help with either method, make sure you ask during your visit.

Triggers

Talk with your healthcare provider about your triggers and how to stay away from them. If you are having trouble learning your triggers or figuring out how to reduce contact with them, ask your healthcare provider.

If you have allergies, an allergist may be able to help. Talk with your healthcare provider for a referral. Or go to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website. You can search for an allergist in your area.

Stay away from tobacco smoke and air pollution.

If you smoke, work with your healthcare provider to quit. Counseling or medicine can help. Ask about special programs in your area. Or look for programs online. For example, try smokefree.gov. Stay away from secondhand smoke. Don’t allow smoking in your home or car. And try to stay away from places where smoking is allowed. For some people, thirdhand smoke (smoke on clothes and other materials) can also trigger asthma.  

Watch the air quality in your area. If it is poor, try to stay inside as much as possible. Check your local news or try the Environmental Protection Agency.

Medicines

Make sure you know exactly how and when to use your medicines. This includes both long-term (controller) and quick-relief (rescue) medicines. Ask any questions you have about how to use them or about side effects.

To check if you are using an inhaler correctly, use it in front of a healthcare provider. This can be your primary provider, a nurse, respiratory therapist, or pharmacist. That way, he or she can see exactly how you use it. If needed, he or she can show you the correct way to use it.

Check that you always have enough medicine. Ask for refills during your office visit.

When you travel, take an extra supply of medicines in case your return is delayed.

Online Medical Reviewer: Alan J Blaivas DO

Online Medical Reviewer: Amy Finke RN BSN

Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC

Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2018

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