Asthma is a serious condition. It affects upwards of 30 million people in the United States and over 300 million people worldwide -- which makes it extremely important for primary care physicians (PCP) to discuss this chronic disease with their patients who have it. However, the contrary seems to be true, as most people with asthma who take medication rarely discuss the condition or medication side effects with their doctors, according the Global Asthma Physician and Patient survey (GAPP).
Doctor-patient communication is a crucial factor in asthma management. What are some things you can do differently with your patients to ensure the best outcomes when dealing with this chronic disease?
1. Develop an asthma action plan with your patient. According to national guidelines for asthma management, PCPs must write and discuss treatment plans with their asthma patients. Such action plans encourage open communication between doctors and patients.
2. Discuss the condition and the asthma action plan with your patients. Keep their action plan timely by encouraging patients to tell you when and how their condition is changing. Encourage your asthma patients to visit at least once every six months. As a PCP, it is critical that you have the most recent up-to-date information on your patient's asthma. Encourage patients to keep an asthma symptoms diary as well.
3. Identify what triggers your patients' asthma the most. Help them to limit their exposure to the worst one and to control triggers in the home.
4. Encourage asthma patients to become familiar with first aid procedures for managing asthma-related emergencies.
5. Promote healthy eating habits and exercise in your asthma patients. According to a recent study, children who are obese at the time of puberty are three times more likely than their peers to suffer from asthma in their teens. Further, some studies say obese adults are three times more likely to develop asthma than thinner adults.