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Asthma - what to ask the doctor - adult

Definition

Asthma is a problem with the airways that bring oxygen in and carbon dioxide out of your lungs. A person with asthma may not feel symptoms all the time. But when an asthma attack happens, it becomes hard for air to pass through your airways. The symptoms are coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath. Rarely asthma causes chest pain.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse to help you take care of your asthma.

Alternate Names

What to ask your doctor about asthma - adult

Questions

Am I taking my asthma medicines the right way?

  • What medicines should I be taking every day (called controller drugs)? What should I do if I miss a day?
  • How should I adjust my medicines if I feel better or worse?
  • Which medicines should I take when I am short of breath (called rescue drugs)? Is it okay to use these rescue drugs every day?
  • What are the side effects of my medicines? For what side effects should I call the doctor?
  • How will I know when my inhalers are getting empty? Am I using my inhaler the right way? Should I be using a spacer?

What are some signs that my asthma is getting worse and that I need to call the doctor? What should I do when I feel short of breath?

What shots or vaccinations do I need?

What will make my asthma worse?

  • How can I prevent getting a lung infection?
  • How can I get help quitting smoking?
  • How do I find out when smog or pollution is worse?

What sort of changes should I make around my home?

  • Can I have a pet? In the house or outside? How about in the bedroom?
  • Is it okay for me to clean and vacuum in the house?
  • Is it okay to have carpets in the house?
  • What type of furniture is best to have?
  • How do I get rid of dust and mold in the house? Do I need to cover my bed or pillows?
  • How do I know if I have cockroaches in my home? How do I get rid of them?
  • Can I have a fire in my fireplace or wood-burning stove?

What sort of changes do I need to make at work?

What exercises are better for me to do?

  • Are there times when I should avoid being outside and exercising?
  • Are there things that I can do before I start exercising?

Do I need tests or treatments for allergies? What should I do when I know I'm going to be around something that triggers my asthma?

What type of planning do I need to do before I travel?

  • What drugs should I bring? How do I get refills?
  • Whom should I call if my asthma gets worse?
  • Should I have extra medicines in case something happens?

Review Date: 12/11/2012
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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