Patient Education for Asthma

Patient Education at the Asthma Center

Patient education is an important part of managing a chronic disease, such as asthma. Understanding the nature of the disease is an important first step in controlling it.

Each patient at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center's Asthma Center is also educated about how to implement the prescribed treatment plan. Recommendations are then sent to the patient's primary care provider regarding management of the patient's program. Ongoing telephone support is also available to both patient and provider.

If you or a member of your family is treated at the Asthma Center, you can be sure of a thorough medication review, instruction in how to use inhalers and other devices, and guidance in environmental controls, action plans and peak flow monitoring.

Your doctor will show you how you can use a peak flow meter, which is a very simple device, to monitor your own "lung power." By keeping a regular record of your peak flow results, you can help your doctor make important decisions about your medication and the other components of your treatment plan.

Asthma Symptoms and Triggers

Most people with asthma have warning signs before symptoms appear. The warning signs are not the same for everyone. Your own warning signs may even be different from time to time. By learning what your warning signs are, you can start treatment sooner. This may keep you from having a serious asthma attack. The following are some of the warning signs of asthma or signs of an asthma attack:

  • Breathing faster than normal
  • Breathing trouble, which may be worse at night or in the early morning
  • Cough, which may be worse at night or in the early morning
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Head chronically "stopped up"
  • Itchy, scratchy or sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tight feeling in the chest
  • Chronic exhaustion
  • Wheezing

The possible causes of asthma symptoms or an asthma attack may be grouped into several categories:

  • Allergens, including pollen, molds, animal dander, dust, dust mites and food additives
  • Environmental conditions such as strong odors, cigarette smoke or fumes, air pollution and changes in air temperature
  • Indoor pollutants such as perfumes, cleaning agents and other chemicals
  • Stress, exercise or strong emotions
  • Infections in the lungs or airways

Your doctor will help you determine which of the many causes are most likely to bring on your symptoms, so that you can avoid them whenever possible.

Helpful Links - Asthma Center

For additional useful information about asthma, and its causes and treatments, visit the following websites: