How Do You Know You Are Feeling Better?
I recently had a conversation that caught me off guard. How did I know that my asthma was under control or that I was feeling well?
As a patient, I know that I have become fixated at times on monitoring everything, especially in times of exacerbation of changing symptoms. It seems like I a very common questions. I know that I have been asked it many times by physicians “what makes you feel better?” or “have you been feeling better and what has changed”. I have not given too much thought to the importance of questions.
I began to give my stock answer. “I feel better because_________”. Then I realized that I felt better because I had a decreased need for rescue medication, that I had improved quality of life means that I can do more of my everyday things, symptoms free.
If I think about this in context of the GINA guidelines the “ long terms goals of asthma treatment are to achieve good symptom control and to minimize future risk of exacerbations, fixed airflow limitation and side-effects of treatment. The patient's own goals regarding their asthma and its treatment should be identified.1
It was somewhat validating to know that I was on the right track. It also identified that I had not been paying as much attention to my symptoms, mostly because I had less of them. Hooray! This is not an excuse for me to slack in some monitoring, considering that asthma is episodic. It is important to be on top of things, in “good times and bad times"... That phrase also almost always makes me think of the Dionne Warwick songs “ That is what friends are for”
This doesn't mean that I do not have symptoms at all or that I am always symptoms free but more that, I am in control of managing my symptoms. I feel like “symptom-free ” is the holy grail of asthma treatment.
What does symptom-free mean?
Essentially symptom-free means without the presence of typical asthma symptoms. A good gauge of this would be the ACQ 5, the asthma questionnaire which evaluates symptoms that a patient is experiencing. If you are new to tracking symptoms or even out of practice of using scientifically validated questionnaire can help you get a gauge on your symptoms.
To recap, asthma symptoms are generally thought of as a cough, wheeze, shortness of breath and chest tightness
How do you know that you are feeling better or what tools do you use to assess well being? How do you describe your asthma control I would love to know.
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