Here’s What I Expect From My Asthma Doctors

Last updated: July 2022

I have always had good luck with asthma doctors. As I live in a smaller town, specialists like allergists and pulmonologists are long drives away. So I have generally had my primary care physician (PCP) manage my asthma, and I think all the PCPs who have cared for me over the years have done a good job.

What I expect from my asthma doctor

What does it take for a doctor to manage my asthma? It takes four simple things:

  1. A willingness to prescribe the medicines I need to control my asthma. In my case, this is Symbicort, Singulair, and albuterol.
  2. A willingness to listen to ideas I have about improving my asthma control. I often have questions. I sometimes come up with new medicines to try. You can agree or disagree with me. I just need a willingness to have these discussions.
  3. A willingness to prescribe the medicines I need to end asthma attacks when they occur. In this case, prednisone and sometimes an antibiotic such as a Z-pack.
  4. The ability to get me into the office right now if I’m having an attack that won’t go away despite #3 above. Like, if I call the office, the person who answers the phone makes me an appointment for TODAY. I do not want to hear, “I can get you in next week!” Or, “You need to go to the ER.” I need to get in now. I don’t want to have to go to the ER. Many of us asthmatics can manage our asthma at home on our own. We do not need to go to expensive ERs. (I know the ER is there. I will use it if I feel I need to. I just would prefer to manage it on my own first. And this usually works well for me.)

Basically, a good asthma doctor knows that most of us asthmatics can manage our asthma on our own. I do not need to come into the office and pay $40 for every asthma attack. I do not need to spend $800 for an ER visit. What I need is trust from the doctor that I know what I am doing and can manage my own asthma. At least that is how it is for me. After all, I have had this disease for 52 years now. I am also a respiratory therapist with training on how to manage asthma.

And it's a safety thing too. If I have prednisone on hand, I can take it right away, as opposed to waiting until the doctor has time to write a prescription and for the pharmacy to fill it. What if I have my asthma attack on Friday after hours. Do I have to wait until Monday to start steroids?

My current PCP is not meeting my expectations for asthma management

So far in my life, all of my PCPs have respected my ability to manage my own asthma. That is, until a few years ago when I hired my current PCP. He does great at managing my other conditions, such as my hypertension. But, when it comes to my asthma, he fails. He refuses to prescribe me prednisone to keep on hand. And, when I call his office, his staff is unable to get me a rapid appointment to see him. And when I ask, he takes too long to prescribe prednisone, if he does it at all. This leaves me with no choice but to go to the ER. And, the last time I went to the ER, it cost me $800 to get a $20 prescription for prednisone.

This caused a dilemma for me

Do I fire him? Do I find another doctor to manage my asthma? And this got me thinking. I already see the Ear Nose and Throat Doctor that my ENT referred me to. And I really like this ENT, as he shows both empathy and knowledge at managing my nasal problems (I also have rhinitis due to allergies, along with vasomotor rhinitis, etc.).

So, at my latest appointment, I asked him if he also manages asthma. And he said he does, especially when a person has both allergies and asthma. He said that is his specialty. So, I explained to him my current situation with my PCP, and I asked him if he would manage my asthma. I gave him a little bit of my asthma history, way more than what I had already told him.

And he said he WOULD manage my asthma. I explained to him how I would like to have prednisone on hand, and he swiftly wrote me a prescription. He also wrote me a prescription for a Z-pack, as he said the medication was proven to also have anti-inflammatory properties, and this could prove helpful for ending asthma attacks.

I was very pleased with my ENT.

Appreciation for expectations met

Normally, when my doctor’s appointments end, I’m relieved they are over. But this time I left with a feeling of joy and appreciation. I left with a smile on my face. As here I had found, once again, a doctor who understands asthma and the asthmatic.

What about you? What do you expect from your asthma doctor? Please let us know in the comments below.

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

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