An Asthma Journal & Why You Need One
Ever since I was a child I have kept a journal. Writing and being able to get my feelings down on paper is extremely therapeutic for me. When I received my asthma diagnosis I made it a habit to start tracking my bad asthma days in my journal and planner. Over time I have figured out the best system for me that's realistic for myself and the management of my asthma.
When starting an asthma journal it can seem a bit overwhelming at first. Find a system that works best for you. What works for me might not work for you. You might start with one type and end up switching it up, which is totally okay. For me, I use a regular lined journal/diary. It doesn't need to be fancy at all. A simple spiral notebook will work just great. Or if you prefer, there are plenty of fancy ones out there that you can purchase.
Things you can include in your asthma journal
Your Asthma Action Plan
One one of the very first pages of my asthma journal I transcribe a copy of my asthma action plan that I was given by my doctor. That way it is always there and I can easily refer to it at any time. My asthma action plan has my peak flow red-yellow-green zones as well as exactly what steps to take when my asthma starts to flare up and when to call my doctor or go to the Emergency Room.
Peak flow readings
Track your morning and evening peak flows. Always make sure to do your peak flow before you take your inhalers as it is more accurate this way. You might also want to include a graph type chart that you can easily print off from online and paste onto one of the pages. This way you can see if your numbers are starting to trend downward etc. Often times you will see peak flow numbers start to drop before you have asthma symptoms.
Leave some space to write down any asthma symptoms you have experienced each day as well as any triggers you might have been exposed to. Also, note the time of day and go into whatever detail you need. You might start to notice you have more symptoms at certain times of the day. Sometimes I'll have a little checklist and I can just make a checkmark next to which symptoms I experienced & the time of day next to it. These include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and more.
If you have allergic asthma, make sure to write down any allergy symptoms you may be experiencing. It's a good idea to also include the air quality and pollen counts for the day (which can be found online or oftentimes your local weather reports on tv.)
I have another tally box that I check off when I take my morning & evening medications. Even though it has long been routine for me to take my medications in the morning & evening, it's still a good idea to write it down. Keep track of how often you are needing your rescue inhaler as well as what you were doing/any exposure that caused your asthma to flare up.
You asthma journal is up to you
These are just a few examples of things you can include in your asthma journal. It is ultimately up to you as to what you choose to include. If you aren't a fan of keeping a physical journal that you can write in, there are many cell phone apps that can do the same thing. It's another tool for us asthmatics to have to help better manage our disease. Keep it as simple or as elaborate as you want. Be sure to bring it with you to your doctor's appointments! Your doctor (and respiratory therapist!) will be quite impressed!
Do you keep a journal or another writing practice to manage your asthma?
Have you taken our In America Survey yet?