Taking My Own Advice

Being a Respiratory Therapist, I provide a lot of education both for the people I care for in the hospital and also through my advocacy and contract work. Some would call me an expert, but I prefer the title of advocate. Having severe asthma myself, I can completely relate and know what the people I help are going through. I spend a good portion of my day at work educating patients in the emergency room, inpatient setting as well as our outpatient respiratory clinic.

Asthma self-management is a complicated task and since asthma is an episodic disease that changes over time, we always need to be on our toes and readily equipped to handle it.

Using my asthma action plan to help with asthma self-management

Having an asthma action plan is the foundation for effectively keeping asthma under control. An asthma action plan is a form that your doctor fills out with your help that is for you to have in your asthma toolbox. On the form there is a place to add your daily asthma medications and when to take your reliever inhaler (such as albuterol) or nebulizer treatment.

Your asthma action plan should also have a place to add your personal best peak flow reading if you track it, and the ranges for the green, yellow, and red zones. There will be instructions as far as when to add any additional medications and when to call your doctor and/or seek emergency medical attention.

Not ignoring my asthma symptoms

Another very important factor in asthma self-management is to not ignore your symptoms. Pay attention when you start to notice things beginning to flare up. Don’t wait to see if it will go away, because chances are almost certain things will get worse without intervention.

Knowing when to call the doctor

A couple weeks ago I noticed my asthma starting to flare up and in the past, I’ve had a pretty bad habit (that I am still working on breaking) of trying to “ride it out” despite what I tell my patients on a daily basis. I did follow my action plan and this time I decided to take my own advice and not wait to call my doctor. I’m glad I did because he had me come to their office and hour later and after a steroid injection and a weeks worth of prednisone I started to feel so much better. Had I waited and not called my doctor, things could have been much worse and I very well could have ended up in the emergency room and admitted to the hospital.

Don’t ever be afraid to call your doctor. Don’t be afraid to “bother” them or call too much. That is what they are there for. To help you when you need it. Have that extremely open line of communication with your medical team so they know and understand your asthma.

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