What's a "Poor Perceiver?"

In the medical world, there are all sorts of weird terms, and this is one of them - "poor perceivers."

What does that mean?

Merriam - Webster defines perceive as 'attaining awareness or understanding of'

Still confused?

What's normal with asthma

Well, with asthma, it means you THINK you are doing well, and you're really not. In fact, I met a young woman who was a beauty queen, and her platform was about asthma education. I asked her, "What made you choose asthma as your platform?"

She told me her story.

In high school, she LOVED to dance and was very talented. One day during dance class, she was having problems breathing and collapsed. The ambulance took her to the Emergency Department, where they finally figured out what was going on. She was diagnosed with asthma.

She had an Albuterol breathing treatment and couldn't believe how easy it was to breathe! It was then that she had an "Aha!' moment. She said she didn't realize that was how she was supposed to feel - all the time. She had been struggling to breathe for so long with reduced lung capacity, that it felt normal for her.

Imagine how her world opened up when they started her on a controller inhaler! 

I tell people it's the same way when you get glasses for the first time - you don't really know what you're missing until you get a pair of glasses and realize The Trees Have Leaves! They are not just green fuzzy balls! It reminds me of one of the episodes on PBS's,  "Arthur's Eyes."

My kids used to watch that show when they were little, especially when my oldest son got glasses. As a matter of fact, PBS also has a fun episode called "Buster's Breathless", where Buster tries to explain asthma to his friends.

But I digress.

Many of the families I work with THINK their asthma is just fine. Yeah, they were in the Emergency Department, but it was just a freak thing. Or they were hospitalized - but hey, it happens! Or they are coughing the entire time I am talking to them. They're not sick, but they have so much swelling in their lungs that they cough All. The. Time. (I met a woman who used to sleep separately from her husband every winter because she coughed all night long, every night, all winter.)

(Just a heads up here - it's NOT okay to cough all of the time when you have asthma. It's usually a sign that something is wrong with your lungs and your asthma medication needs to be adjusted.) But don't take my word for it, read what the experts say in the NAEPP EPR 3 National Guidelines.

The Expert Panel Report (EPR3) looks at what symptoms you are having, how it impacts your life, are they normal, and what should be done. It's a quick read - only 74 pages!

Think your asthma is okay? Here's a quick way to check!

If you are an adult, you can take The Asthma Control Test, answer 5 questions, and get a score. Depending on your score, your doctor may need to adjust your asthma medicine.

There's also an Asthma Control Test for kids.

And then there are the "Rules of Two" from Baylor.

The thing to learn today is "what's normal for asthma". And are YOU a "poor perceiver?"

Have you taken one of the short tests above to get a score for your asthma control?

Some people don't realize how bad they are and either has a poor quality of life (I can't do what I want because of my asthma), or wait too long to get care (I'm okay - really!) and end up in the emergency room or being admitted to the hospital.

What are you waiting for? Take the test! If you have a low score, talk to your doc and see if she needs to adjust your medicine.

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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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