What To Ask Your Doctor

Fred Little Health Pro
  • Preparing to see your doctor about asthma?


    As asthma affects over 15 million adults and children, one can imagine that there are many doctor visits in the United States where asthma is the main topic of conversation. Many patients have clear expectations when they go to see their doctor for asthma – in fact the best doctor-patient relationship occurs over time. But for everybody, there was that ‘first visit’, when we didn’t know why we were having trouble breathing. A friend may have said, “You may have asthma”, but there were many unknowns going in to see the doctor.


    In this entry, I’d like to give some pointers on how to prepare for your visit with your primary doctor or specialist for asthma care.

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    What to expect

    Asthma, which tends to run in families, is caused by exposures to triggers in the environment – dust, pets, cold, cold viruses, among others. To better understand your asthma, you doctor will ask detailed questions about three main areas: 1) symptoms of asthma – their timing, severity, and triggers, 2) home and work environment, and 3) family medical history about asthma and allergies. Here are some specific questions to expect:


    -          How long have you had asthma or shortness of breath?

    -          Did you have asthma as a child?

    -          Do you have hayfever symptoms – if so, what time of year?

    -          What are your symptoms of asthma – wheeze? cough? shortness of breath?

    -          What brings on your asthma symptoms and when do they occur?

    -          How does your asthma limit your activity at work? at home? outdoors?

    -          How long does it take for your symptoms to improve?

    -          Is there anything that makes your symptoms better – warm air? resting?

    -          Do you have pets at home? At friends’ houses?

    -          Is your furniture upholstered? What kind of carpeting is there in the house?

    -          What kind of work do you do?

    -          Does anyone in you close family have asthma or hayfever?


    As part of the evaluation, your doctor may want to have you do some breathing tests, called spirometry, to determine the severity of your asthma. He or she may also recommend allergy skin testing to find our whether there are any allergic triggers to your asthma.


    Questions to ask

    Now that we’ve covered what to expect from your doctor, here are a few questions you may want to ask to be best able to helpyou team up with your doctor to understand and control you asthma:


    -          What do you think is the main trigger for my asthma?

    -          Are asthma and allergies related, and how?

    -          How long will I need to be taking medicines for asthma?

    -          What is the best time to take my asthma medicines?

    -          What should I do if I miss a dose of my asthma medicine?

    -          Are there any medicines I should carry around with me?

  • -          Do I need to monitor my peak flow at home?

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    -          What can I do at home to reduce my exposure to asthma triggers?


    Nothing, including this entry, can replace individual care from your physician, and don’t be disappointed if your doctor doesn’t ask all the questions I’ve noted earlier. However, I hope that the information in this entry will be a start towards a productive relationship with your doctor, with the goal of optimal asthma control.

Published On: March 02, 2007