How to communicate about asthma with healthcare providers

If you have asthma , one of the most important relationships is the one you will develop with your doctor or with your asthma nurse.

If you are caring for someone with asthma, you will find information on this page on how to communicate with the healthcare provider and what to look for at each visit.

Consulting a healthcare provider regularly is an important part of asthma care.

If your asthma is under control, you should have a follow-up visit every six months, whereas if your asthma is uncontrolled or if you have severe persistent asthma, you should see your healthcare provider more often.

During check-ups, your healthcare provider may assess your level of symptom control, any asthma attacks, your adherence and inhaler technique with your asthma medications, and any side effects, and together, you will work to adjust your treatment if needed, and to develop or review the written action plan to show you how to identify and respond to worsening asthma.

Share your thoughts

The consultation is the opportunity to establish a partnership with your healthcare providers and get the most of their experience to help you. Do not be shy to discuss how asthma impacts your daily life and be ready and confident to share your concerns, fears and expectations about your asthma.

If you are planning a pregnancy, would like to practice a new sport, if you are thinking of adopting a pet or planning a trip, you may have many questions and doubts on whether any of these activities may worsen your asthma. The healthcare provider will provide counselling, lifestyle advice or refer you to someone else that might help you better.

If you keep a daily asthma journal, use it to write down all your questions, concerns, the circumstances in which your asthma is getting worse and discuss these matters with your healthcare provider at each visit

It is also very important that you discuss your inhaler technique and adherence to medication with your healthcare provider.

Discuss your asthma treatment

The ultimate goals of asthma treatment are to keep symptoms under control, to prevent asthma attacks, and to minimise the risk of side effects. The first step is to agree with your healthcare provider about the treatment that best meets your expectations and needs.

The second step is to follow the treatment as planned. Many barriers can interfere with adherence, identifying them may help you reach your goal.

Common barriers to adherence to asthma medication

Barriers to adherence

Tips to improve adherence

Difficulties using inhaler (e.g., arthritis, or prescribed multiple different inhalers)


Review the technique with your healthcare provider. If you are prescribed more than one inhaler for regular daily use, ask if there is a combination inhaler that will have the same actions

Burdensome regimens (e.g., medications that need to be taken more than once daily)

Review the plan with your healthcare provider

It is not clear when and how you must take your asthma medicines

The pharmacist can help you with the instructions

Ask for home visits by asthma nurse or pharmacist, especially if you if you have difficulties in mobility

Forgetfulness, absence of a daily routine

Keep the inhaler in a place where you will remember it

Use electronic reminders to use your inhaler

Perception that treatment is not necessary, particularly if asthma is well-controlled

Controller treatment is needed to keep symptoms under control and avoid asthma attacks. Discuss with your doctor if you can step-down the therapy

Concerns about side effects (real or perceived)

Establish a good relationship with your doctor and share decisions on treatment

Reach out to patients’ groups

Inappropriate expectations

Stigmatisation, cultural or religious issues

Cost of treatment

Check cost coverage/reimbursement opportunities with your health insurance or public healthcare system

Patients’ associations may help you to access treatment opportunities

Dissatisfaction with healthcare providers

Share your experience with other patients you trust, patients’ associations offer opportunities to meet your peers in a safe environment

Denial or anger about asthma or its treatment

Consider social/psychological support

More #aboutasthma
Is it asthma?
What is an asthma attack?
Avoiding asthma triggers
Growing up with asthma
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