By Dr. Larry Chiaramonte
I’m all for free and open discussion on the web, but we have to distinguish between opinions and facts, or fact and fiction, or…choose your own contrast. On Google alerts, this item came up:
A woman named Lanna asked in all good faith what regular tests should be done by a GP after an asthma diagnosis, and one reader responded “No. Just get an inhaler and when your breathing acts up, use it.”
Sorry, Lanna. Please don’t follow this advice. Symptoms are not a test. Using an inhaler is no more asthma treatment than emergency room access is health care.
If you have symptoms, your asthma is not controlled. Uncontrolled asthmatic inflammation causes subtle long-term damage to your lungs called “remodeling” and depending on how severe your condition is, may lead to emergency hospitalization. Controlling your asthma requires diligent daily treatment. You can measure your lung function with a peak-flow meter, which is cheap, and you can do it yourself without regular visits to a GP. Ask for a referral to an allergist or perhaps a pulmonologist to work out an asthma action plan and take charge of your own lung health. (Click on Action Plans on the navigation bar at the top of this page to find an asthma action plan.)