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“So, I Have Asthma?”

The way you are told about an asthma diagnosis can dictate your outlook on your disease.

In my experience, this can either inspire the creation of spirited and engaged patients, or lead to feelings of isolation, confusion, and sadness. Meanwhile, the path that we choose as patients is up to us.

Reflecting on my diagnosis

I know that this has certainly been true for me. When my family physician mentioned that I had asthma, I was in complete disbelief. At the time, I knew almost nothing about asthma, other than it commonly happened to children, that I had a good friend growing up that had it and people used blue inhalers.

When I saw my first specialist, he mentioned that this would be a life long and that it was manageable, although it was not presented with an optimistic outlook. This led to feelings of me not feeling that I would get to a place of being well managed, I knew very little about asthma but I did not get the impression this was something that I wanted to have.

Asthma diagnosis and management go hand-in-hand

I feel that there needs to be more emphasis on understanding what an asthma diagnosis means, especially at the beginning. We need to do better for patients than just having inhalers prescribed (with maybe a pamphlet). I didn’t know there were options, tests, that should be demanded outside of symptoms reviews or even that there were different types of asthma.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have demanded that I had the data that went along with my diagnosis, more than spirometry but full PFTs. That we didn’t wait so long for a methacholine challenge, that we talked about the direction of asthma research.

Treatment education should be the norm

I felt like my adult diagnosis came on the cusp of the wave of biologics. I sometimes wonder if there were other treatment options that we should have tried sooner. While I am not able to go back in time, I do hope that physicians can be more cognizant of how diagnoses can be delivered with the whole patient in mind. Since patient journeys are more marathons than sprints, would it not be a good place to have an excellent start?

This had me thinking about what kind of information I wanted with my diagnosis. I was in denial, so I wanted proof. This request was a bit brushed off. I think every diagnosis should come with this explanation.

There was very little information about what may be causing symptoms. I felt that the more information that I had about what was causing my symptoms, the more likely I was to understand my asthma, be compliant with medications, and be on top of its changes.

Was your diagnosis similar?

How do you want to be told about your diagnosis? What would make the whole situation easier to digest?  Why are these overviews with diagnosis, not more prevalent? Have you had a positive diagnosis? Share in the comments below or tell your story to the community!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • rjmoon
    5 months ago

    My diagnosis was a quick and brutal lesson in asthma, and humility, mostly caused by my own lack of common sense.
    I’d been sick with bronchitis for a month – two courses of antibiotics with no improvement, constant coughing and shortness of breath. So I did what any reasonable person would do – I set off out of town on a multi-day trip for work. I then made several more poor judgment calls, and before lunchtime on the first day, I was staggering around by myself outside an unfamiliar hospital with wet pants (I’ve had kids and I was coughing a LOT) and a sense of impending doom, trying unsuccessfully to find the ER. Luckily the sweetest elderly lady happened to walk by and came to the rescue, and the ER staff were awesome. And once the worst was over, I spent a day and a half lying in a hospital bed and researching asthma on my phone. I realized that I’d probably had asthma for years, just in a milder form.
    I went from not having a diagnosis to being on four different asthma medications literally overnight. I wasn’t given much information at all – just a 30 second lesson from the pharmacist on how to use an MDI. No explanations of anything, just told to go to the ER if I have difficulty breathing. I’m very comfortable with researching online and distinguishing reputable vs non-reputable sources, but it was still frustrating and anxiety-inducing, especially because it took awhile to get it under control and I was starting to wonder if this was just the way my life was going to be. I’m doing much better now and very well-controlled for the most part, owing a great deal to my own research and to supportive sites like this one 🙂

  • Shellzoo
    5 months ago

    I wonder how many of us had asthma long before it was diagnosed. Glad you are doing s much better now.

  • Shellzoo
    5 months ago

    I was not surprised when I was told I had asthma. I for years had infrequent periods of wheezing after exposures to allergens but always recovered in a couple days if I just took it easy and got rest. I just wanted to avoid the hassle of inhalers. So when I went to my follow-up appointment I figured I would just breath better and my tests would be improved and I would be told I was fine and go on my merry way. Instead I was shown a model of an airway, told my spirometry score, informed that I always have some chronic inflammation in my airway and put on an additional inhaler. My diagnosis on my bill said moderate persistent asthma but I never was told that. I think more time should be spent teaching inhaler use, how to recognize and avoid potential triggers and creating a plan for what to do when you are sick or not breathing well. I only got inhalers with a very quick review and instruction and sent on my way. This web site and the articles and support helped me the most. Everything in your article I agree with.

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