This blog post is part of our series on the Promoting Asthma Patient Engagement in Research (PAPER) project. The goal of the program is to increase awareness of asthma and research and to increase patient participation in research.
When you have asthma, you may have different health care providers who help you manage your asthma. These may include a primary care doctor, specialists and other experts who oversee parts of your treatment plan. Since proper asthma management is key, you need to understand each one’s focus and the role they play in your care. This is the first step toward building a partnership with your health care team for the best quality of life possible.
What Types of Health Care Providers Offer Asthma Treatment?
There are many types of health care providers. You may see a few different ones to care for your asthma. They may each recommend different types of treatment. It is important to understand each have different training. They will each have a special focus on your care.
- An allergist is a specialist in allergies and the immune system. They diagnose and treat allergic diseases like asthma, allergies and eczema.
- A pulmonologist (puhl-mo-NAH-lo-jist) is a specialist in diagnosing and treating lung diseases. Like an allergist, they follow asthma treatment guidelines based on evidence and research.
- A naturopath takes an alternative approach to asthma care. They may look at viral infections or toxins in the body and how they affect asthma.
- A nutritionist gives advice on how foods affect your health. They may tell you to remove foods from your diet that can cause inflammation and affect your asthma.
If you see different health care providers to manage your asthma, share all parts of your treatment plan with all of them. For example, if a nutritionist has you on a diet to reduce inflammation, let your allergist or pulmonologist know.
Recent asthma research is looking at alternative methods of treatment. So far, there is no proof that anything else works as well as treatment based on established asthma guidelines. There is little evidence that recommendations from naturopaths and nutritionists work.
Talk to all of your health care providers about any alternative treatments you have used or are thinking about using. Ask if they know of research studies showing that the treatment may help or is not harmful.
How Can I Build a Partnership With My Health Care Providers?
Your providers are experts and partners in your health care. Open communication with them is the best way to build a relationship with your providers. When you visit a health care provider:
- Always share your daily experiences of managing your asthma
- Tell them if a treatment or medicine isn’t working for you
- Let them know about any problems or issues you may have sticking with a treatment plan
- When searching the internet for medical research, use reliable sources, like the National Institutes of Health
- Participate in asthma research to help influence future education and treatments and talk to your doctor about your efforts
How Can I Make the Most of an Appointment With a Health Care Provider?
Here are some tips for a successful visit with your health care provider:
- Write down your questions and concerns before the visit
- Bring the list with you and let the provider know you have questions or concerns to go over with them
- Bring a family member or friend with you to the visit
- Bring a copy of research you want them to review
- Take notes during the visit or ask for written steps or instructions
- Ask for written educational materials or where you can get them
- Review any changes made to your Asthma Action Plan
- Ask when to call about symptoms or issues, especially outside office hours
- Confirm that a report of the visit will be sent to your other health care providers
Your health care providers want to help you manage your asthma the best way possible. Work with them to understand each one’s approach and how they work together. A unified health care team can mean greater quality of life for you.
Participate in the PAPER Project to Shape the Future of Asthma Research.
Be a part of patient-centered research to shape research and treatments that can impact the lives of millions of Americans with asthma. Participating is simple. Watch our collection of 11 short videos on understanding asthma and asthma research. Then take short surveys after each one to give us your feedback.
Together, we can influence the future of research and treatment for better quality of life for those with asthma!
This project is funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), contract #2207-AAFA.