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If you or someone you love has asthma, you may have questions or need support. The Lung Association is here to help.
In Ontario, you can get free asthma information and advice from a Certified Asthma Educator, through our Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864). You can also e-mail a Certified Asthma Educator at email@example.com.
Work with your health care team to control asthma
Your healthcare team can teach you how to manage your asthma symptoms. They can teach you how to use your written Asthma Action Plan that tells you what changes to make to your asthma medications when you have asthma symptoms.
People on your asthma health care team may include:
- Doctor - you may have a family doctor and a respirologist
(breathing specialist doctor)
- Respiratory Therapist
- Certified Asthma Educator (CAE) or Certified Respiratory Educator (CRE)
Certified Asthma Educators are respiratory therapists, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists or dieticians who have special training in teaching people about asthma. They are experts at explaining how asthma affects you and what you can do about it. To find a Certified Asthma Educator, contact your local Lung Association or your doctor.
What to discuss with your health care team
- Your Asthma Action Plan
- All your asthma symptoms, especially if they are getting worse
- What you can do to prevent asthma attacks
- How you can reduce exposure to your asthma triggers
- If you are using more of your asthma reliever inhaler (blue puffer) than usual
- Questions about your asthma treatment
- Concerns you may have about side effects from any asthma medicines
Working with your doctor
Ideally, the relationship you have with your doctor is a collaborative one; you tell your doctor all about your asthma - symptoms, triggers, medications - and they tell you all about the disease itself - what it is and how to treat it. Sharing information with your doctor's nurses and other staff is also important: they can be a big help and are usually easier to contact than your doctor.
The best way to view your doctor is as a partner - both of you are working together to improve and your asthma control. To reach that goal, it is important for each of you to fulfill your responsibilities to each other and communicate fully.
- Ask questions
- Tell your doctor what's bothering you
- Make sure you understand the answers
- Keep your doctor fully informed about all aspects of your asthma including your level of asthma control
- After you experience an asthma attack or asthma worsening, review your Asthma Action Plan with your doctor to determine why your asthma symptoms worsened and what preventative measures might be taken in the future.
Open communication is crucial to help you get your asthma under control, but sometimes it's not so easy. You may feel you shouldn't take up their time because they are so busy or that a question you have is "silly". You may feel embarrassed if you can't follow your doctor's explanation. But, remember - your doctor is there to help you. If you don't understand the answer, ask your doctor to explain it in simpler, everyday terms.
There are other things you can do to make communication between you and your doctor easier. It's very useful, for instance, if you know the names and dosages of all your asthma medications. You might want to keep a record of these in a special notebook of your medical history and take it with you on visits to the doctor. Write down any questions you have for your doctor. This will remind you to ask them next time you see your doctor.
Share feelings and fears
Talking about your asthma medications and the medical aspects of asthma isn't always easy: sharing your feelings can be even more difficult. But it's important since emotions can affect both your asthma and its management.
Many people with asthma (and their families) feel anxiety and fear and these feelings need to be discussed with your doctor. Don't be afraid of your doctor's reaction or what he/ she will think of you. When you are discussing your concerns, try to be as specific as possible so your doctor can understand exactly what the problem is.
Some fears that might get raised are:
- Worries about the effects of specific asthma medications
- Possible consequences of having asthma such as hospitalization or difficulty exercising
Talk about these openly with your doctor.