1. I keep getting a cough, especially after exercise, but one time it was so bad, I just couldn’t stop. By the time my friend could drive me to the hospital, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it! After a few hours I felt better and they sent me home with a bunch of prescriptions but what do I do now? I am supposed to see my primary care doctor within two days but shouldn’t I see a specialist? I almost died!
The diagnosis of asthma is usually not difficult to make — and in most cases, asthma is not challenging to treat. Yet many adults and children suffer or die needlessly each year due to less-than-strategic care and follow-through for asthma symptoms and related conditions.
NHLBI Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma recommends referral to an asthma specialist (allergists and/or pulmonologist) as the most reasonable next step if:
- symptoms are not responding to initial therapy as expected
- symptoms return
- allergy testing or allergy immunotherapy is needed
- other pulmonary or specialized tests are needed
- more than two short courses of oral corticosteroids are needed within a year
- daily use of inhaled corticosteroids is required
- you’ve ever been hospitalized
- you are a candidate for using the biologic drug Xolair
Allergists and pulmonologists have specialized training and experience; they are most likely to provide a strategic, written asthma action plan customized to meet your or your child’s needs.
Just as a person arriving at an emergency department with cardiac symptoms or a broken leg is immediately referred to a specialist, people with asthma who have experienced symptoms severe enough to seek urgent treatment should also consider consultation with an asthma specialist.
2. How do I find an asthma specialist?
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
http://acaai.org/LocateAllergist/ or call 800-842-7777
American College of Chest Physicians