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What You Need to Know About Asthma

People with asthma need to take care of themselves to help control their symptoms and prevent serious problems. Work with your health care provider to take good care of yourself.

Follow-up visits

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommends people with asthma see their health care providers at least every 6 months. You may see your health care provider more often. It can depend on many things, like how well your asthma is controlled, and whether or not your health care provider is changing your treatment. My next office visit is on: _____________(date).

Woman using peak flow meter

Checking asthma control

It is very important to check your asthma symptoms so that you can take action if there is a change. There are two ways to do this. Some people use a peak flow meter and some keep track of small changes in their symptoms by writing them down every day. Your health care provider will help you figure out which way is best for you and tell you what to do if your symptoms worsen.

__________I will check on my asthma control by using a peak flow meter.

OR

__________I will keep track of and write down my symptoms.

Vaccines

The CDC recommends that all people with asthma get a flu vaccine (shot) every year. Keep in mind that the flu shot will help protect you from getting the flu, but it will not lessen asthma flare-ups during flu season. The CDC also recommends that adults with asthma ages 19 and older get a one-time pneumonia vaccine. People ages 65 and older may need to get a second vaccine. This is true if they got their first dose when they were younger than age 65, and if 5 or more years have passed since that dose.

I had my flu shot on ______________ (date) and I had my pneumonia shot on ______________ (date).

Asthma medications

It is important that you don’t run out of your asthma medications. This includes your controller and reliever medications. Answer the following statement honestly:

I always have at least a 30-day supply of my asthma medications. _____ Yes _____ No

If you answered “no,” talk with your health care provider or your pharmacist about the reasons. Do you have trouble paying for your medicine? Do you have trouble getting to the drug store to get your medicine? Do you simply forget? Work on solutions to make sure you always have your asthma medications.

And it is also important that you know how to use all your medications correctly. Even if you think you are using inhalers or other devices correctly, it is a good idea to review how to use them.

I last reviewed how to use my medication with my health care provider or nurse on: _____________(date).

Stop using tobacco

If you use tobacco, you should think about quitting. Tobacco is harmful to everyone, but even more so for people with asthma and other lung problems.

I talked with my health care provider about ways to stop smoking on: _____________(date) and set a date to quit on: _________________(date).

Lung testing

Your health care provider may recommend a test called spirometry to check your lung function. The NHLBI recommends spirometry testing every 1 to 2 years for people with asthma. If your asthma is not well-controlled, your health care provider may want you to have the test more often.

Date of my last test: ________________________________

Other tests and exams

Your health care provider may recommend other tests to figure out what is causing your asthma. He or she may also want to check for other problems that are common in people with asthma. Tests might include sleep studies or allergy tests, as well as other lab tests or lung studies.

You may also be referred to an asthma specialist. Some specialists take care of people with lung problems (pulmonologist) including asthma and some take care of people with allergies (allergist).

I talked with my health care provider about tests and specialists. _____ Yes  _____ No

Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH, newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated cl
Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed.
Last Review Date: 12/10/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.