- Have your doctor write you an information prescription: With more knowledge about asthma, you’ll better understand the disease, why your doctor is ordering certain tests or medications, and what you need to do to better care for your asthma. The Internet can sometimes be a scary place when looking up help information, so ask your doctor or nurse where you should look for more information. You can start right here on About.com Asthma; all of our content is expert written and reviewed. If your healthcare provider will not help you get the information you need, you might need to consider a new doctor.
- Become an asthma expert: Be a proactive patient. Do not leave your care to just your doctor. Become familiar with guidelines for good asthma care and if your care appears to be following those guidelines. For example, make sure you monitor symptoms like cough, amount of rescue inhaler use, and physical activity level. Discuss your asthma care plan with your health care provider and make sure you know the goals of your care plan.
- Create an asthma team:Your primary doctor may not have all the answers. Consider seeing an asthma specialist such as an allergist, pulmonologist, or a specialized asthma center. Depending on your asthma, you may benefit from seeing other health professionals, such as a nutritionist or asthma educator. For example, a nutritionist may help you learn how to avoid certain foods that may worsen your asthma or develop an appropriate diet to lose weight. Specialized asthma centers can provide comprehensive educational services often not available in primary care offices.
- Coordinate your care: When you see multiple doctors for multiple problems, they may not always communicate very well together. A primary care physician can help coordinate your care so all of your doctors are on the same page about your condition.
- Make lifestyle changes: As with any chronic condition, lifestyle change is very important. While losing weight, quitting smoking, and exercising more are all very important and may improve your asthma, they’re all very difficult. However, patients who are able to do these things also have better control of their asthma. While lifestyle change takes sacrifice on your part, it will lead to better control of your asthma and ultimately feeling better.
- Engage your family: Make sure your family understands what living with asthma is like. Lifestyle changes are easier with family support, and inviting family to take part in your asthma care will make it easier.
- Know and manage your medications: You will likely be taking multiple different medications for your asthma. It is very important to know which of your medications is a rescue inhaler compared to your regular asthma treatment medication. Similarly, it’s important to know how often you take each medication and when you’re using your medications too much. It’s also important to know some of the side effects of your medications.
- Don’t let asthma give you the blues: Depression can be a real problem for people coping with a chronic illness. If you are depressed, you may be less likely to take your medications appropriately, keep important appointments, or do the proactive things that will help you get control of your asthma. Read about depression and talk with your doctor if you think you may be suffering from symptoms of depression.
- Remember that you are not alone: Consider joining a support group to get real world answers to your asthma problems. Also, you might consider posting in the About.com Asthma Forum, where folks just like you are talking about asthma-related questions and issues. While healthcare professionals do their best, some questions and solutions can best come from others sharing your similar experience.
- Become a problem solver: As with any chronic condition, you will have good days and bad days. Don’t dwell on the past or what you cannot change. Focus on the positive and the challenge of trying to get the best control of your asthma.
Harvard Heart Letter. Accessed: February 1, 2009. 10 Steps For Coping With A Chronic Condition