Even if your asthma is under control, you need to see your doctor on a regular basis. Learn how these visits can make a difference.
Asthma is a disease that is with you all the time. Like many adults with asthma, you may have days when you feel fine, with few if any symptoms. Other times you may have trouble controlling your asthma and experience asthma attacks often. These attacks may be characterized by wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.
If you have been diagnosed with asthma, it’s important to monitor the disease and get ongoing care. Regular doctor visits — at least twice a year or as directed by your doctor — can help you avoid asthma flare-ups. If your symptoms are not being well controlled, you should also see your doctor. People who have been diagnosed with asthma should have a written action plan that is developed by their doctor. The action plan will show your daily treatment and the steps you should take if you asthma symptoms get worse.
Your doctor can help you manage your asthma, so you can:
- Continue your normal activities and sleep through the night
- Prevent chronic symptoms like shortness of breath and coughing
- Maintain good lung function
- Reduce your need for quick-relief (rescue) medicines
- Prevent attacks that may send you to the emergency room or hospital
Your asthma checkup
In the beginning of your asthma treatment, your doctor may want to see you often. Once your asthma is under control, the visits may decrease to twice a year. The frequency of your visits will depend on a number of factors, such as changes in your medications and how controlled your condition is.
Keep in mind that your asthma can change over time. Regular doctor visits will help ensure that you make adjustments in your treatment if necessary.
In the doctor’s office, you will likely be asked about:
- Your daily activities
- Whether you’ve had symptoms or an asthma attack since your last visit
- Whether your symptoms or peak flow meter readings have changed
- Whether you have concerns or problems with your medications
- How closely you are following your asthma action plan.
Your doctor will likely review your peak flow readings if you’ve been told to track them. Tell your doctor:
- If your symptoms are getting worse
- What you believe triggers your asthma
- If you need help learning to take your medicines correctly — the right way to use your inhaler, for example
- If the drugs are causing unpleasant side effects
- If exercise makes your asthma worse or if asthma limits your activities in any way
- If you have other conditions that can make asthma harder to manage (for example, stress, runny nose, sinus infections, sleep apnea or reflux disease)
- If you smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke or other irritants
Have your doctor review your asthma action plan to see how it is working for monitoring and managing your symptoms. He or she may change which medications you take or alter the dosage. You may be able to take less medicine if your asthma is well controlled. Your doctor can help you stay active, too.
You and your doctor can manage your asthma effectively. To feel your best, it’s important you remain actively involved in your asthma treatment. Seeing your health care provider on a regular basis can help you stay healthy.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National asthma education and prevention program expert panel report 3. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of asthma. Accessed January 25, 2016.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. How is asthma treated and controlled? Accessed January 25, 2016.
- American Lung Association. Understand your medication. Accessed January 25, 2016.
Last Updated: February 5, 2016
The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs and to determine whether making a lifestyle change or decision based on this information is appropriate for you. Some treatments mentioned may not be covered by your health plan. Please refer to your benefit plan documents for information about coverage.