The Future Of Asthma: Where To Start
I was recently asked about what I thought about the future of asthma. I was immediately taken aback by the question. It is something that I think about all the time but I could not give an immediate answer to the question. What did I think about the future of asthma?
The future of asthma
I am cautiously optimistic when I hear about a "cure" for asthma or that a cure can happen. I really want this to be the case someday. I also think it could feel incredibly weird to not have asthma. I am sure that I would get over the weird feeling quite quickly. I would be super excited to not ever have to take prednisone ever again. How do you think about the future of asthma? What do you see as the immediate future of asthma? What would you like to see?
I have to think about this is smaller concepts. I think of what role asthma plays in my life, including symptom control, improved quality of life, what needs improving in asthma research, treatment, management and education? These are all really big questions. I am not sure if I have the answers and I am sure I will need to do a lot more thinking on this,
Figuring out what I want my asthma to look like
To be able to start to answer this question, I needed to start at the beginning. What role do I think that asthma plays in my life? Early in my diagnosis, I felt that asthma was all-consuming, there was so much to learn. There was sorting out the diagnosis, dealing with doctors and a specialty that I did not know or understand. There were/are so many appointments, exacerbations, and trial and error.
Once I figured out how to manage it, while not always easy or living up to my expectations, it did become "somewhat" manageable. I say somewhat manageable because there are times when my asthma just goes off the rails. I know this is part of its variability, being episodic and generally goofy but, it can be so frustrating.
If I could look into a crystal ball, I would say that I want the future of asthma to be something that is "very" manageable. I want it to be easy for patients to access diagnostics that allow them to track, evaluate and ease the decision making progress. I do think, in terms of tracking, the future of asthma is looking really bright. There are lots of apps or apps in development that can help track symptoms, medication use, triggers...etc. Access to peak flow meters is generally easy to come by and use.
Including patients in care
An area that I think needs improvement would be in educating patients on how to use this data. Often our doctors will tell us to track symptoms, peak flows, triggers, etc, and then make a decision based on the data that we present. We need to have more discussions about how decisions are made based on that data.
I know that I did not go to medical school and I am not a doctor. However, the more information that I have, the better I will be able to participate in the decision-making process, be more compliant and take responsibility for my management. I want it to be automatic that the patient is included in these decisions and discussions. I think the development of this process could transform how asthma patients approach their management.
As we move more towards personalized medicine, I see the overall approach to management being incredibly focused on the individual patient and less about "like" patients. This is really exciting and I hope we get there soon. First, we need to be seen as less of a number of a name on a long list for a day and appreciated as part of the solution.
What do you think the future of asthma will look like? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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