Asthma Treatment Decisions
Last updated: March 2023
I have always found that my asthma never presented easy answers, however, I was surprised to be facing asthma treatment decisions after finding what I thought was a sweet spot.
The importance of tracking asthma symptoms and changes
I had recently had an adjustment in my treatment regimen and found myself with a few asthma treatment-related symptoms. I usually pride myself on taking good notes about symptom changes and so forth, however, I cannot recall if this was a new feeling or not.
This had me thinking about the threshold I had once established for treatment side effects that I was able to tolerate and accept. When I first started my journey with biologics, I was quite unwell, uncontrolled, and pretty much willing to accept anything. It all seemed better that then the brutal side effects of oral corticosteroids.
It is important to identify if these side effects were truly from my asthma treatment or if they were related to other things that may have been occurring at the same time. There are some symptoms where it is hard to know if they are from the lasting effects of oral corticosteroid treatment or something else. I resumed symptom tracking to get a better idea of what I was dealing with. I took my data to my care team and they were able to use that data, in combination with other diagnostics, to determine that at least a few of these symptoms were related to treatment. I was relieved to have confirmation but it also presented some decisions that may need to be made.
Making asthma treatment-related decisions
I made a list of asthma treatment symptoms that I was less willing to live with. My list included weight gain, changes in vision, sustained increases in blood pressure, and rounding out my list was constant hives. I knew that I was not willing to be on antihistamines long-term. They make me incredibly sleepy and affect my quality of life.
The last time I had to make big treatment decisions I made decision trees and spreadsheets with rationales. I do not feel that this decision is quite that intense but I do feel conflicted. In discussions with my care team, it was "up to me" to decide on the level of control that I am happy to accept.
Now that I have been on this asthma treatment regimen for some time I am changing my threshold. I have drawn the line at eye issues since we only have two eyes and they are already subject to age-related issues that come with life and some biologics have eye-related symptoms.
There must have been a part of me that thought if I had not had these symptoms before, then I would not get them now. I have been on some of these treatments for years. In my case, this was not exactly true, in discussion with my specialist it turns out that you can develop some of these side effects over time. It is important to understand that they can be treated and everyone will have different tolerance for side effects.
I felt conflicted about what the best decision would be, should I take a break from this treatment to see if things resolved, or was this a side effect that warranted immediate discontinuation? What symptoms was I willing to live with long-term? I ultimately decided that I needed to do a test by holding some of the medication for a short time to see if it made a difference. I did this in consultation with my care team and with medical monitoring. Once we had an understanding of the role that it played, I was able to make a more informed decision. I have been able to tweak some of my regimens and I hope that I will be back in the sweet spot soon.
What has your experience with asthma treatment decisions been like?
Have you decided to discontinue medication? What were your rationale and threshold? How did you know you were making the right decisions? Did you feel that there was a trade or were you perfectly content with your decision? I would love to know about your experiences. You can share your story by clicking the button below.
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