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Your Asthma Healthcare Team

A healthcare team will help you manage your asthma. You and your team will create your Asthma Action Plan. You may see a fewproviders each year who help keep you healthy. Your asthma care team may include:

  • Primary healthcare provider

  • Pulmonologist

  • Allergist

  • Nurses

  • Pharmacist

  • Exercise physiologist

  • Mental healthcare provider

Learn more about these types of providers below.

Primary healthcare provider

This is who you see for most healthcare visits. This includes yearly checkups and general care. He or she may be one of these:

  • Family practice doctor. This type of doctortreats both kids and adults.

  • Internist. This type of doctor has extra training in internal medicine. This is general medicine for adults.

  • Nurse practitioner. This provider is an advanced practice registered nurse. They are trained to give care under the direction of a medical doctor. They can do many things a medical doctor can. This includes giving a physical exam and writing prescriptions.

  • Physician’s assistant. This provider is also trained to give care under the direction of a medical doctor. They can also give you an exam and write prescriptions.

You’ll see your primary provider most of the time. But there may be a time when your asthma is not under control. Then you may be referred to a specialist. You may see a pulmonologist or an allergist. These are both described below.

Pulmonologist

This type of doctor treats diseases of the airways and lungs. He or she has extra years of training in the respiratory system. 

Allergist

This type of doctor is also called an immunologist. He or she has extra training in treating asthma and allergies.

Nurses

These are healthcare providers who work with others on your team. A nurse may:

  • Give you an exam

  • Give you medicine

  • Teach you about your condition

  • Organize your care among your providers

Nurses can get extra training to become certain types of nurses.Types of nurses with advanced clinical certification include:

  • Advanced practice registered nurse

  • Nurse practitioner

  • Nurse midwife

  • Pulmonary nurse practitioner

  • Clinical nurse specialist, such as asthma nurse specialist or respiratory nurse specialist

Pharmacist

This provider works in a pharmacy, hospital, or medical center. They are trained in providing medicines. They alsoadvise how to use them safely. A pharmacist knows which medicines should not be used together. This includes prescription and nonprescription medicines. He or she can also advise you on medicine side effects.

Exercise physiologist

This person is trained in the best ways to do safe exercises. Exercise is vital to stay healthy. But it can trigger asthma for some people. He or she can design a safe fitness or exercise program for you.

Mental healthcare provider

Emotional stress can sometimes trigger asthma attacks. And coping with a long-term(chronic) condition such as asthma can cause stress for both you and your family. A mental healthcare provider can help you and your family deal with emotional stress. Different types of providers can give this care. They may have training in individual, group, or family therapy. The types of providers include: 

  • Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). This type of provider has a master’s degree in social work and has passed a state exam. He or she can also help you find financial aid and other resources.

  • Psychologist. This type of provider has a master’s degree or doctorate in psychology. He or she may be trained in other methods, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps a person change negative thoughts and actions.

  • Psychiatrist. This is a type of medical doctor. A psychiatrist can also prescribe medicine.

  • Marriage and family therapist. This type of provider has a master’s degree or doctorate in a mental health subject.

Choosing asthma healthcare providers

Make sure your healthcare team members are board certified or licensed for their specialty. This means they have special training and the approval of an official group. Ask questions such as:

  • Do you have any special training for treating asthma?

  • How many people that you treat have asthma?

  • How often will I have tests?

  • Do you accept my insurance plan? What are your billing policies?

  • Will you send reports or records to my other healthcare providers as needed? 

Working with your healthcare team

You are part of your healthcare team, too. Make sure to:

  • Stick to your Asthma Action Plan. Work with your healthcare team to create this plan. It should include how to prevent symptoms. And it should include what to do if you have an asthma attack.

  • Use your medicines. You may have maintenance medicine. And you may have rescue medicine. Use these as directed. Talk with a nurse or your pharmacist if you need help using your medicines.

  • Keep track of your symptoms.Note your asthma triggers. Bring the information with you when you visit your provider. This can help you and your team manage your asthma.

  • Keep in contact. Go to regular checkups. Make an appointment if you’re having trouble controlling your asthma.

Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Online Medical Reviewer: Deborah Pedersen MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2018
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