Dr. Donald Levy, Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, Orange County Ca

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Office Location
705 W. La Veta Ave.
Suite 101
Orange, CA 92868
(714) 639-7847


New Approaches to Treating Asthma: Your Appointment With Your Doctor

Establishing a Partnership to Manage Asthma

To effectively manage your asthma (or your child's asthma), it's essential to develop a partnership with your doctor that includes the following:

  • Open communication
  • Development of an asthma management plan
  • Cooperation in preventing and treating asthma symptoms
Identify Concerns and Talk With Your Doctor

Your doctor may ask you:

  • What are some of your concerns about having asthma?
  • What problems, if any, are you having with your medications?
  • What bothers you about your asthma?
Work with your doctor to develop a strategy to address your concerns or fears. You might ask your doctor what other patients have done to effectively control their asthma.

Common Concerns About Asthma


Concern or Fear Addressing This Concern
Asthma is caused by psychological problems. Asthma is a physical problem. You are not to blame.
Asthma can be fatal. Death from asthma is rare, especially if the asthma is well-controlled.
People with asthma cannot exercise. Exercise is especially important if you have asthma. You can take medicine before you begin exercising to prevent symptoms during exercise.
Asthma cannot be cured. Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. You should expect nothing less. If your asthma is controlled, you can participate normally in all activities.
Asthma medication is dangerous. Asthma medications are safe if taken as prescribed. Report all side effects to your doctor. The dose may need to be reduced or the medication changed.
Asthma medication is addictive. None of the asthma medications are addictive. Because these medications suppress but do not cure asthma, your symptoms may return if you stop taking your asthma medications.

Don't be afraid to ask your doctor any questions you have. The more you know about asthma and your specific triggers and symptoms, the better able you will be to manage your asthma effectively. Your doctor can help you understand asthma by explaining the following:

  • Structure and function of the lungs.
  • Definition of asthma.
  • The functional changes in the lungs that occur during an episode of asthma.
  • Warning signs and symptoms of an asthma episode.
  • Triggers of asthma episodes.
  • Steps to achieve control of asthma.
  • Benefits of proper treatment.
Goals of Asthma Treatment

Carefully following your asthma treatment plan can help you:

  • Get control of your asthma.
  • Take part in all your usual activities, including exercise and sports.
  • Sleep through the night without having asthma symptoms.
  • Have few, if any, symptoms during the day.
  • Avoid asthma attacks.
  • Avoid emergency room visits.
  • Reduce the need for short-acting beta agonist reliever medicine
  • Maintain a normal or near-normal peak flow rate.
  • Keep a steady peak flow rate (with less than a 20 percent change from one reading to another in a day).
  • Avoid possible side effects from asthma medicines.
Tips for a Successful Asthma Management Plan
  • Understand written instructions on the medications and how to use the medications correctly.
  • Go over each step of your plan with your doctor.
  • The asthma management plan should be as simple as possible — with as few medications prescribed as few times a day as possible.
  • Have your doctor demonstrate how to use the inhaler. Review your technique with your doctor or nurse at periodic intervals to make sure you have not developed any bad habits that prevent you from using the inhaler effectively.
  • Enlist your family's support in helping you follow your asthma management plan.
  • Talk to your doctor immediately about any fears or concerns you have about asthma and asthma medications.
  • If you are a woman and are considering becoming pregnant (or are already pregnant), talk with your doctor about the potential effects of your asthma on your pregnancy and fetus, and how to make sure your asthma is well-controlled throughout your pregnancy.
  • Determine if you can afford to buy the medications prescribed and, if not, talk to your doctor about alternative therapies or payment methods.
  • Identify problems with your medication plan by asking:
    • What problems do you have taking this medication?
    • When you feel better, do you sometimes stop taking the medication?
    • If you feel worse when you take the medication, do you sometimes stop taking it?
Your physician will provide you with written and verbal instructions on the use of each medication required to treat your asthma:
  • The name of each medication prescribed.
  • The medication's purpose (such as for inflammation, cough or wheezing).
  • The medication's dose and schedule of administration.
  • When to begin taking the medication.
  • Guidelines for changing the dose or adding new medications.
  • When to discontinue the medications (if appropriate).
  • Special instructions for taking the medications, if needed (such as when to report side effects, what to do if you forget to take a dose of a medication).
  • Tips on how to administer the medication to children (if appropriate).
Discuss your concerns and fears about the safety of asthma medication with your doctor. You may want to ask the following questions:
  • What worries you about the medication?
  • What is your biggest concern about the medication?
  • What are the side effects of asthma medications, including corticosteroids?
  • Can the medication lose its effectiveness over time?
  • What effects do asthma medications have on children? Could they affect a child's growth and development?
Excerpted from Understanding Asthma Health Management Bulletin: Information for asthma patients and their friends

Medical Writer: Claudia Morain, Davis, Calif.


Last Updated: February 2005 by Steven R. White, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Chicago, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
© Original Copyright 1997 American Medical Association. Updated February 2005.

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