Asthma

An estimated 18.4 million Americans currently have asthma, and government health officials report that that number will rise as our air becomes dirtier with pollutants and other irritants. For severe asthma sufferers, having an attack feels like breathing through a straw, yet many people don't think the problem is serious enough to consult a doctor. If you're a chronic asthma sufferer, ask your doctor what you can do to avoid attacks and which medications can help you control this disease.

Questions Patients Should Ask Their Doctors

  • What is asthma?
  • What causes asthma?
  • How serious is asthma?
  • How did I get asthma?
  • What is an asthma attack?
  • Could I be doing things that trigger an attack?
  • What should I do if I experience an asthma attack?
  • Do I need medication to control my asthma? What kinds of medication are used to treat asthma?
  • How often should I take it?
  • What are the side effects?
  • What should I do if I experience side effects?
  • Can I control my asthma without medication?
  • Should I change anything in my house to help control my asthma?
  • What is a peak flow meter and how does it help me control my asthma?
  • I have heard of an asthma action plan. How can this help me control my asthma?
  • Do I need to have a supply of oxygen at home for emergencies?
  • How often should I see a doctor?
  • Are there situations that should prompt me to go to an emergency room?

Questions Your Doctor May Ask You

  • What kind of symptoms do you experience when you have an asthma attack?
  • How long have you had these symptoms?
  • How severe are the symptoms usually?
  • Can you recall what triggers these attacks? Where were you at the time of the attacks? What time of day was it? Were you eating or drinking?
  • Did you take any medication when you experienced the attacks?
  • Do you have any allergies that you know of?
  • Do you have a pet, especially a cat or dog?
  • Do you have carpeting or heavy draperies in your house?
  • Have you ever received allergy shots before?
  • Are you taking any medication -- prescription or over-the-counter -- for other conditions?
  • Has a doctor or health-care worker helped you fill out your personal Asthma Action Plan?

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Asthma, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/asthma.htm

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Expert Panel Report: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma.

Centers for Disease Control. Summary of Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey.

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