For an asthma treatment strategy to succeed, the patient must be an active participant. Patients who take an active role in their care have better control over their disease. The health benefit from patient participation can be applied to any illness but seems particularly true in diseases such as asthma and diabetes.
Patients who participate in their own care are better educated in regard to their illness and communicate well with their physicians. These characteristics are extremely important in managing bronchial asthma. This topic discusses the steps patients can take to become active participants in their care and specific suggestions are offered regarding diet, stress, and work. Self-Monitoring and Education In managing bronchial asthma a patient can play an active role in decision making by closely monitoring airflows with a home peak flow meter. From the record of the peak flows a physician can judge the effectiveness of treatment, evaluate the patient's response to new drugs, pinpoint adverse environmental influences at home and work, and determine the need for emergency management. Peak flows may also be used for special situations such as before and after exercise to determine a patient's response to various asthma triggers. Your physician should be your primary source of information. Limits on time may prevent discussion of all important issues on an initial visit so make a list of topics you want to discuss so you can raise these issues during follow-up visits. Ask your doctor about recommended reading to further your education. Before leaving the physician's office you should have been taught the correct use of an MDI, peak flow meter, and spacer if they are prescribed. Ask lots of questions. Videotapes of proper inhalation techniques for using MDIs are available. Written instructions on the use of your medications should be given to you. "What are the side effects I should be aware of?" "Are there any drug interactions with my other medicines?" are excellent questions you should ask. At home, keep a record of your doctor's office visits and appointments. A diary of your peak flow measurements should also be maintained. Mark your calendar when you started using an MDI so you can mark ahead the date when it should be refilled. Always carry a list of your medications with you as well as a fresh bronchodilator spray for emergency use. If you travel, carry a set of your prescriptions in case your medication is mislaid. Research the climate you will be traveling to as well as important aspects of the locale such as local allergens or the altitude. Ask your physician about the effects of altitude on your condition and whether you should have prescriptions for emergency medications such as antibiotics or corticosteroids.