How to Make Use of Your First Appointment of Visiting The Doctor For Asthma


Asthma is sometimes hard to diagnose. Some people are not even aware that they have asthma. They might blame a cough on a lingering cold or the dry air outside. During your first visit, the goal is to determine whether it’s asthma, or something else, that’s making you wheeze and cough. Some conditions seem a lot like asthma. In children, an obstruction in the airways, such as one resulting from cystic fibrosis, can cause asthma like symptoms. In adults, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and congestive heart failure may all cause similar symptoms.

To make sure that you have asthma, your doctor will ask for your medical history, give you a physical examination, and perform certain tests. Your medical history will include questions like:

Doctor Asthma first appointment

  • What symptoms do you have?
  • How often do you have symptoms? Every day? Less than once a week?
  • In the last month, has coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing bothered you at night? In the morning? After some running, exercise, or other physical activity? During a particular season or time of year?
  • Have you had colds that traveled into your chest or
  • What makes your symptoms occur or worsen? Better?
  • Have you had a sudden severe episode or several episodes of coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath?
  • Have you missed work or school because of your symptoms?
  • How have your symptoms affected your lifestyle, activities, and family?

Your health care provider will also do a physical examination that focuses on your upper respiratory tract, chest and skin. During this examination, he or she will look to see if you have common signs of asthma, including hunched shoulders; sounds of wheezing (like whistling) during normal breathing; increased nasal secretions; swelling of the mucus membranes; or signs of allergic skin conditions, such as eczema.

What the doctor finds during the physical examination is somewhat subjective, findings can be interpreted differently by different doctors. So your health care provider will also need an objective test to diagnose your asthma. Depending on your history and the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may simply perform a spirometry test. A spirometer is an instrument that measures the air taken into and out of the lungs. Spirometry helps rule in asthma and rule out other causes. However, the results of this test are sometimes normal (between asthma attacks) in people with mild asthma. In that case, your doctor may give you a peak-flow meter, another device that measures lung function, to take home with you. Peak-flow meters come in various types, but they all do the same thing. The peak-flow readings will help you and your doctor make decisions about your treatment plan. You may also use the peak-flow meter throughout your treatment to monitor your asthma. ”

Based on what you learn during this visit, your health care provider may think more tests are useful. Further tests might include a chest X-ray, allergy testing, and evaluation for gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD). Whenever you need a medical test, feel free to ask your doctor:

Doctor Asthma first appointment

  • Why do I need this test?
  • What will this test involve?
  • Do I need to prepare for the test?
  • Are there any complications from this test?
  • What will the test tell us?
  • When will the results come back? Who will tell me about the results?

Once your doctor is certain that you have asthma, you will talk about asthma and its treatment. Your job is to make sure you understand. Don’t hesitate to ask the meaning of a word or to ask for more explanation .You might repeat what your doctor tells you to see if you’ve understood. Feel free to write down instructions and other information. You may not remember everything your doctor said during the visit. It’s often helpful to read information when you get home. Be sure to ask for pamphlets, fact sheets, or names of current books that you can read and share with family members. Because you may think of more questions after you leave the office, ask your doctor for a good time to call. Some health care providers reserve a certain part of the day to return calls to their patients. Other offices have a nurse on staff who handles patients’ calls.

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care

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About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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