Arming Yourself for the War Against Asthma

  • When I write about health issues, I often talk about how being an informed health consumer is one of your most powerful weapons in your efforts to control and manage your health condition, including asthma. Perhaps "war" is a bit of hype, but truly it is up to each of us to be proactive and aggressive in taking every step to prevent disease and health issues from taking over our lives.


    There's an old saying that, "Knowledge is power!" and I am in total agreement with that sentiment. When you know and understand, you are in a much better position to take action, or to be more clear... actions that make sense and that will have positive benefits for you.

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    So, in today's post, I thought I would help you to find the most helpful sources of asthma knowledge. Beware! There is a lot of misinformation on the Web, and it's easy to get led down some crazy path, if you're not careful.


    Start HERE!

  was designed to provide reliable health information on a wide variety of conditions, one of them being asthma. The information comes from subject matter experts, both health care professionals, as well as people who have actually experienced the health condition. I am both, when it comes to asthma, as is our other expert, Rick Frea, an asthmatic respiratory therapist. (I am a registered nurse, as well as lifelong asthma sufferer.)


    Check out either of our many posts here on the site and you'll get an excellent, comprehensive introduction to the many aspects of living with and treating asthma.

    * Please note: I write for HealthCentral on allergies and COPD, in addition to asthma, so you'll see posts on all of those topics if you click the link above.


    James Thompson, MD is another of our asthma experts. You'll find a list of his posts (on asthma, allergies and cold/flu) here.


    Also, on HealthCentral, you'll find some encyclopedic type information, in the form of articles, slide shows and video. Check them out for general information that Rick, Dr. Thompson or I may not have covered in our various posts. Check the home asthma page for featured content, a list of videos (at the bottom of the page), or use the drop down menus to navigate to the areas you're interested in.


    You might also want to look at the post I wrote recently on asthma video learning, for links both to HealthCentral asthma videos, as well as great videos on other reputable health information websites.


    Expand Your Knowledge


    In addition to the information you'll find here, you should also know about the other best asthma resources on the Web, including the following websites:

    • American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, that is "dedicated to the advancement of the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology for optimal patient care", according to their stated mission. Their site offers both practice guidelines for health care professionals, as well as educational information for both adults and children suffering from asthma and/or allergies.
    • Asthma & Allergy Foundation of  America, an organization whose stated mission is, "dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with asthma and allergic diseases through education, advocacy and research," which they accomplish by providing practical information, community based services and support to people through a network of regional and local partners around the U.S. Their aim is both education and advocacy.
    • National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, which provides informational publications and research updates on a wide variety of asthma-related topics.
    • Centers for Disease Control asthma hub. The CDC also provides some general asthma information on their site. They are also the best source of information about yearly influenza trends and vaccines.

    WebMD, and the Mayo Clinic online are other reliable health information websites, as are National Jewish Health and the American Lung Association.


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    If you Google "asthma information", you'll find thousands of sites listed. Any that are state health departments, asthma foundations in Canada, Australia or the UK or part of a hospital or other traditional health care system are probably reliable and accurate.


    These are signs a website may not provide information you can trust 100%:

    • They make wild claims that asthma can be cured or eliminated, if you'll just buy their product or information.
    • There is no indication who wrote the information on the site or if it comes from (or is at least reviewed by) health care professionals with asthma expertise.
    • They are linked to a specific product or pharmaceutical firm.These types of sites will generally provide accurate reference information, but will be heavily biased towards treatment with their own product and may not provide a well-rounded user experience.

    Learn By Asking Questions


    The informed health care consumer has both the right and the responsibility to be an active member of the health care team. One of the ways you can get more proactive AND learn more about your disease and its treatment is to ask lots of questions when you visit your doctor.


    However, doctors these days are busy, busy, so go prepared to your visit. Have a list of written questions that you can use to quickly ask what you need/want to know. Try to limit the list to 3 to 5 questions per visit, if you can. Otherwise, your doctor may cut you short, in the interest of time and his/her other patients!


    Questions you might ask could include:

    • Do I need to create/update my Asthma Action Plan?
    • How soon will I start to feel the positive benefits of this new asthma medication?
    • Are there side effects I need to report?
    • When should I call the doctor about how I am feeling?
    • Are there other things I can be doing to help control my asthma?

    If the doctor ever says anything you don't understand, be sure to ask for clarification until you do understand. Also, write down notes about the doctor's answers to your questions, so that you'll remember what was said by the time you get home!


    In Summary


    Learning is a lifelong process. We should never stop learning, especially when it comes to our health. So do what you can each week to add a few tidbits to your knowledge of asthma and ways to control asthma.


    Check a few books out of the library about asthma, talk to other asthma sufferers and maybe even attend an asthma support group at your local hospital. Before you know it, you'll be the best educated asthma patient around!

Published On: January 12, 2012