To Call or Not to Call
Something a lot of asthmatics struggle with is knowing when to call your doctor. When your asthma symptoms are starting to act up or when you aren't sure about your asthma action plan. We aren't meant to be able to handle our disease on our own. We need the support and help from others, including our doctors. Having a good open relationship with your medical team is very important. Many doctors now have an option to send an email for questions as well as a dedicated nurse line you can call for medical advice.
Follow your asthma action plan
If you don't have an asthma action plan definitely talk to your doctor the next time you have an appointment. An asthma action plan is a piece of paper that contains your asthma-specific medications, peak flow zones based on your personal best number (if you track your peak flow), what medications/dosages to add when your asthma starts to act up and when to call your doctor directly &/or seek immediate emergency attention at the closest hospital. What's so great about asthma action plans is that they tell you exactly what to do and when to do it when it comes to your asthma.
I don't want to be a bother
Something I have personally struggled with on occasion in the past is actually making the call or composing the email to my doctor when I have a question or need some medical advice. I used to have this internal struggle where I don't want to be a bother to my doctor. I would think to myself “surely he has other pressing patients who are sicker than me” and I would only be taking up their time when they should be spending it with other patients. It wasn't until I had a conversation with my doctor about my reasoning for hesitating to call/email that he assured me that he never ever wants me to feel that way and to not wait to ever call or email him no matter how small or seemingly insignificant my issue may seem.
What it comes down to is, that the moment you are questioning whether or not to call your doctor when you asthma is flaring up, that is the time to absolutely call (or email.) If you can’t get through to your doctor's office, consider going to urgent care or the emergency room. Being a respiratory therapist and working in the ER, I would absolutely rather see an asthmatic in mild distress who is unsure of if they made the right call to come in than one who waited too long and is now facing a critical respiratory crisis. While it sounds a bit harsh to say, your doctor is in business because of the patients he or she sees. Asthma can get very bad very fast and waiting can be detrimental. Your doctor might be able to help troubleshoot over the phone or he/she may make the decision to have you come into their office the same day or next or depending on the circumstances, go to the emergency room. Besides asthma troubles, don't ever hesitate to reach out to your healthcare team if you have any medical questions or concerns. Don’t wait.
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