YOU MAY NOT BE “SICK,” BUT TALK WITH YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT BETTER ASTHMA CONTROL

The Next Breath Editorial Team

January 2020

1/1/2020 12:00:00 AM

TIPS & RESOURCES

Better asthma control is possible. Use these tips to jump-start a conversation with your doctor about addressing your symptoms.

When you live with a chronic condition that affects different aspects of your life, it’s completely normal to adapt as a way of coping with its impact. You may assume that because you are not currently experiencing an asthma attack that your symptoms are controlled, but that isn’t necessarily the case. You can still have severe asthma even when you aren’t experiencing symptoms in the moment. Because of this, people may underestimate the level of control that they have or in the case of severe asthma, never even question that they can get additional support to achieve better control.1

With the right education, tools and support, improving your level of control over your asthma symptoms is a real possibility – and it all starts with a conversation between you and your doctor. We’ve outlined three steps to help you prepare to chat about your asthma and play an active role in your care.

Step 1: Track Your Asthma Symptoms

Before diving into a discussion, define what’s “normal” for your asthma. By considering the unique impact that asthma has on your life, you can help take the uncertainty out of your disease. One convenient way to do this is to keep track of the frequency and intensity of flare-ups and other symptoms in a journal. Take time to reflect on what your unique triggers are, what makes your asthma worse, what makes it better, etc. These details will help provide a “map” of your asthma symptoms and create a foundation for an informed conversation with your doctor.

In your journal, keep track of any questions you have as a reminder to bring them up at your next appointment. Some examples to get you started might be:

  • What type of asthma do I have, and how does it affect me?
  • What does good control look like?
  • What treatment options are right for me?
  • Am I taking my current asthma treatment the right way?
  • What are my triggers?
  • What are some signs that my asthma is getting worse and that I need to book a doctor’s appointment?
  • What are the benefits of an asthma action plan, and should I have one?

Once you’ve written your questions down, review your symptoms “map” to see if there’s anything else you might have concerns about.

Step 2: Start the Conversation

No two people have exactly the same type of asthma. That’s why establishing an open dialogue with your doctor and asking questions about your unique asthma symptoms are key to achieving a better outcome.

We know it can be hard, but try to speak up! This might sound obvious, but your asthma control starts with you, and a specific plan for your asthma control begins with your ability to understand and communicate your symptoms and their impact on your life with your physician. Your doctor is there to support you, but he or she can only do so if you are completely honest about your experience.

Step 3: Create Your Asthma Action Plan

An Asthma Action Plan is a written asthma management plan, which helps you map out information on how to help better manage your condition. (Explore examples of Asthma Action Plans from Asthma UK, AAFA, and the National Asthma Council Australia.) It can be a real support in managing symptoms day-to-day, so make sure to speak with your doctor about developing one together. Your asthma action plan can tell you:

  • Which medicines to take each day
  • What to do if your asthma is worsening
  • How to spot an asthma attack and what to do next

Did you know 90% of people living with asthma who use a personalized asthma action plan describe it as useful? Yet, only 28% of people living with asthma have discussed a plan with their health care professional.2

There you have it! With these three simple steps, you’re on your way to taking back control. Pay attention to and record your asthma symptoms to help you define your “normal.” Start a new conversation with your doctor about control, using your asthma journal as a guide. Finally, work together with your doctor to develop your Asthma Action Plan.

For an additional resource, read the Rethink Your Asthma magazine, “Talking to Your Doctor,” and start planning ahead to get the most out of your next appointment.

References

  1. 1. Matsunaga et. Al. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Factors Associated with Physician-Patient Discordance in the Perception of Asthma Control. https://www.jaci-inpractice.org/article/S2213-2198(19)30454-4/abstract Accessed July, 2019.
  2. 2. Fletcher, M., & Hiles, D. (2013). Continuing discrepancy between patient perception of asthma control and real-world symptoms: a quantitative online survey of 1,083 adults with asthma from the UK. Primary care respiratory journal: journal of the General Practice Airways Group, 22(4), 431–438. doi:10.4104/pcrj.2013.00091

SAGLB.AST.19.08.1122 | Date of Approval: August 2019

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Moving the future of asthma forward, together

Working together, we can bring more awareness to severe asthma,
illuminate the latest science and empower people to take action
to strive for better asthma control.

Start using your next breath today to inspire others to get informed and
check back soon to find more ways to get involved.

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