How to Prepare for an Asthma Visit
The changes in your airways are still there even when you don’t have symptoms. That’s why, if you live with asthma, it’s very important that you have regular asthma visits to your doctor to help you manage it.
If you don’t have regular asthma visits to your doctor, or if the thought of it makes you uncomfortable, you aren’t alone. Here are a few things you can do to prepare for an asthma visit, what you can to happen during one, and what you should do after it.
- If you haven’t had an asthma visit in over six months, make an appointment as soon as you can, even if you’re feeling fine.
- Prepare a list of medications, and gather your insurance card and your Access Card. Bring them with you to your doctor visit.
- Be prepared to talk about your asthma symptoms and medication use. If you have questions about your asthma action plan, write them down and bring them with you.
- For older kids and adults, a breathing test may be done in the doctor’s office to measure lung function and asthma control.
- Your doctor will ask you questions about your asthma symptoms, like coughing or waking up at night, and your medication use. It is important to be upfront with your answers so your doctor can make medication changes to better control your asthma, if needed.
- Your doctor will want to go over how to recognize and manage asthma triggers with you.
- Your doctor may also talk to you about recognizing the signs if you’re having an asthma emergency. These would include fast breathing, skin sucking in between or around the chest and ribs, movement of the nostrils with breathing, decreased level of consciousness, or being very tired.
Your doctor might talk to you about the differences between rescue (relief) and long-term controller (control) medications. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! It’s important to know which asthma medications are for which. For instance, some inhaled medications are called inhaled corticosteroids. These decrease inflammation in the lungs to keep your asthma well controlled and prevent symptoms.
There are also things you should bring up while you’re with your doctor. This would include the following:
- Ask about devices like an inhaler spacer. If you don’t have a spacer, let your doctor know.
- If you have trouble remembering to take your daily medication, this would be a good time to ask for tips on how to do that.
- If you don’t already have an asthma action plan, ask your doctor for one.
- Schedule your next appointment before you leave the doctor’s office. He or she will want to see you about every six months to check in on your asthma control.
- Make sure to ask your doctor for medication prescription refills if you’re running low.
Once you leave the doctor’s office, there are things you will want to keep in mind.
- Always take your asthma controller medication every day – even if you’re feeling fine – to prevent symptoms and attacks.
- If you take your rescue medication more than two times a week, talk to your doctor. This is a sign that your asthma is not well controlled.
- If you’re having trouble filling or taking your asthma medication, talk to your doctor.
- If you have any of the symptoms of an asthma emergency, call 911 immediately.
- Rapid breathing
- The skin around or under the ribs “sucking in” when you breathe
- Lethargy (very tired)
- Trouble talking, eating, or drinking due to being short of breath
- Feeling light-headed
- Blueish skin around the mouth or nail beds
Don’t forget, if you’re a Gateway member and have questions about your asthma, you can call our Care Management department at 1-800-392-1147 (TTY 711). And if you have questions about your medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.