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Asthma - what to ask the doctor - adult


Asthma is a problem with the airways that bring oxygen in and carbon dioxide out of your lungs. A person with asthma may not feel symptoms all the time. But when an asthma attack happens, it becomes hard for air to pass through your airways. The symptoms are usually:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath

In rare cases, asthma causes chest pain.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your health care provider to help you take care of your asthma.

Alternate Names

What to ask your doctor about asthma - adult


Am I taking my asthma medicines the right way?

  • What medicines should I be taking every day (called controller drugs)? What should I do if I miss a day?
  • How should I adjust my medicines if I feel better or worse?
  • Which medicines should I take when I am short of breath (called rescue drugs)? Is it ok to use these rescue drugs every day?
  • What are the side effects of my medicines? For what side effects should I call the doctor?
  • How will I know when my inhalers are getting empty? Am I using my inhaler the right way? Should I be using a spacer?

What are some signs that my asthma is getting worse and that I need to call the doctor? What should I do when I feel short of breath?

What shots or vaccinations do I need?

What will make my asthma worse?

  • How can I prevent things that can make my asthma worse?
  • How can I prevent getting a lung infection?
  • How can I get help quitting smoking?
  • How do I find out when smog or pollution is worse?

What sort of changes should I make around my home?

  • Can I have a pet? In the house or outside? How about in the bedroom?
  • Is it ok for me to clean and vacuum in the house?
  • Is it ok to have carpets in the house?
  • What type of furniture is best to have?
  • How do I get rid of dust and mold in the house? Do I need to cover my bed or pillows?
  • How do I know if I have cockroaches in my home? How do I get rid of them?
  • Can I have a fire in my fireplace or wood-burning stove?

What sort of changes do I need to make at work?

What exercises are better for me to do?

  • Are there times when I should avoid being outside and exercising?
  • Are there things that I can do before I start exercising?

Do I need tests or treatments for allergies? What should I do when I know I am going to be around something that triggers my asthma?

What type of planning do I need to do before I travel?

  • What medicines should I bring? How do I get refills?
  • Whom should I call if my asthma gets worse?
  • Should I have extra medicines in case something happens?


Lugogo N, Que LG, Fertel D, Kraft M. Asthma. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al., eds. Murray & Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 38.

National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. Rockville, MD. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2007. NIH publication 08-4051. Available at Accessed 11/29/2104.

Review Date: 11/29/2014
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron Jr. Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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