Why Your Doctor Might Brush Off Your Asthma Logs

Last updated: December 2020

While I’m a self-professed Quantified Selfer, I rarely actually take my data into doctors appointments. While I’ve reviewed about every app (at least every free one) out there to track asthma, and even used some Windows-based software applications back in the day, I’ve only once taken those logs to my doctor.

Why I quit taking my logs to my doctor after the first timeWhen I took my printout of an excel-made asthma log to my doctor for the first time 8+ years ago, I didn’t also really think it would be the last time I did so. But it was. After painstakingly color-coding backdrops to drop into an Excel file, after tracking diligently and making graphs and all that fun (I did clearly have some fun with it), I presented them to my doctor. And, she could not have cared less.At this point in time, I hadn’t quite figured out the science of useful doctors appointments. I probably left disgruntled that she hadn’t taken my chart seriously. I was probably beyond irritated that she hadn’t taken the time to really look at them and demystify all things asthma based on my printout.So, I never took an asthma log to the doctor again. And, it didn’t take me too too long to become okay with that.Why my doctor may have brushed off my asthma logAfter all, all the asthma websites tell you to keep a journal of your asthma, right? Every resource says to take notes and then take them to your doctor! So why did my doctor not give a sh—I mean, dang?Because they don’t. freaking. have. time.I imagine most doctors entered medicine with dreams of spending all the time patients needed with them. Then, reality sets in: you have between 7 and 14 minutes, prescriptions to refill, and sometimes, multiple chronic conditions to manage. You want to give every patient all the time in the world: you just can’t.Yes, you may have the golden doctor who has time to sift through your data. I, however, certainly don’t. That doesn’t make my doctors any less good at doctoring (Dr. Smartypants, I presume, also might not entertain an asthma log print-off, and she earned her nickname and a degree from Harvard of all places), it just means they are focused elsewhere—which may be more important to your actual care. They don’t want to spend time trying to re-trace your peak flow graphs or when you had a flare that was maybe caused by 1 of 17 things or the time you know exactly what happened and how to respond next time.They want the big picture.How you can make your logging efforts more effective for your doctorsOver the months and years with asthma, you’ll probably notice trends in your asthma logs—how your asthma responds to certain times of year, or that you need your rescue inhaler more often when you’re at a certain location. These “big picture” realizations are the key points that your doctor can help you take action on. Keeping tabs on your asthma for yourself and bringing these “lightbulb moments” to your doctor may help you fill gaps in your asthma management or treatment.And, as my fellow Asthma.net writers who are Asthma Educators would likely note, there are people who have time to sift through that data with you if you’re truly perplexed by the peaks and valleys of your asthma diary or graphing pursuits! Those people are certified asthma educators who are well trained and have a schedule that allows them to spend far more time with you than your doctor does—and, they’re actually trained at how to teach you how to both identify problems and manage your asthma most effectively. Your doctor may be able to refer you, or you may be able to self-refer to one of these professionals to get the most possible out of your own asthma logs, and learn a lot about how to best manage your asthma!Do you take your asthma logs to your doctor? How do they respond? 

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