Advocate for Your Own Health

  • This is a more general sharepost this time. Although highly relevant for anyone with asthma, the recommendations I'm making would be useful for almost every person who wants to be in control of their health.


    I want to make a bold statement: You have not only the right, but also the responsibility, to take charge of your health.


    Do not give up control over your health to any health care professional! You might be wondering how I, a nurse, can make such a recommendation. Well, here's the thing...


    I have seen over and over that too many people treat their doctors as supreme all-knowing beings and totally give up medical decisions to them. That is very dangerous, especially in today's health care environment.

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    What am I talking about? Well, the simple truth is that the doctor could never know what is best for you absolutely, because he or she is not living in your body. After all, who knows more about how you're feeling than you?


    So, even in the day of the old small town family doctor who'd been treating you and all your family members for generations, it was foolish to play a passive role in your own health care. But today, when doctors are forced by our health care system to be busier than ever and more focused on the bottom line of running a financially-viable medical practice, you just can't count on the doctor having all the answers.


    I'm not trying to tell you not to trust your doctor... far from it. What I'm encouraging you to do is to become an active, informed member of your health care team, not a passive participant who sits back and waits to be told what to do.


    Here are some tips that will get you started:

    1. First, learn all you can about your health conditions and any medications and treatments you are already using. To get the information you need, visit your local library or bookstore or do your research online. Sites like and some of the others listed at the bottom of this page are a great place to start.

      When you're knowledgeable about the things affecting you, you'll be better prepared to ask your doctor the right questions and also to provide the information he/she needs to guide your treatment plan.
    2. Be involved in your care. Keep a journal or diary of your symptoms, what triggers them, and how you respond to treatment. Bring this journal to every doctors visit and share it with your doctor. Ask your doctor probing questions to help you understand your treatment plan and your progress. Don't be afraid to suggest new or different treatments if what you're doing isn't working.
    3. Keeping a Personal Health Record is also a great idea. It will help you and everyone involved in your care stay on the same page, an especially important issue for people with asthma. There are different approaches to such records, but they should usually include your health care team, your health history, current medication list, and your Asthma Action Plan.

    I hope you'll start being more proactive in your health care, if you're not already. When you do, you'll feel much more in control of your asthma and you're also more likely to achieve good health!

Published On: April 08, 2007