Q: How does a severe asthma patient know if their symptoms are well controlled?

 Purvi Parikh, MD: A severe asthma patient can tell whether their symptoms are controlled or uncontrolled by a few telltale signs.

Signs that asthma is uncontrolled include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, chest pain or shortness of breath. It’s important to note that you don’t need all of those symptoms to be uncontrolled. Any one of those symptoms is a sign that your asthma is not adequately controlled.

Do you wake up in the middle of the night due to asthma? Do you need your quick-relief inhaler more than two times in a given week? Do you have even one emergency department or unscheduled doctor’s office visit in one year due to an asthma flare-up? These are all signs your asthma is not under control.

In fact, studies show most people with asthma in our country are not as adequately controlled as they should be, and many do not perceive their asthma as uncontrolled.

For this reason, Shared Decision Making is extremely important. Shared Decision Making is a doctor-patient partnership in which they work together to determine the most appropriate medical tests and treatment plan, balancing risks and results with preferences and cultural values.

With Shared Decision Making, you can identify your asthma triggers and the signs and symptoms that there may be a problem. You can identify and discuss with your doctor the appropriate preventive medication so that you can keep your asthma symptoms under control.

Allergy & Asthma Network joined the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and American College of Chest Physicians in developing a Shared Decision Making Tool for severe asthma. Answer the questions and share the results with your doctor so you both come to a decision on the best treatment plan for you.

Purvi Parikh, MD, is a board-certified allergist and immunologist with Allergy and Asthma Associates of Murray Hill and New York University School of Medicine in New York City. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Advocacy Council of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Have a medical question? Email editor@allergyasthmanetwork.org or write to Ask the Allergist, Allergy & Asthma Network, 8229 Boone Blvd., Suite 260, Vienna, VA 22182. 


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