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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 few providers each year who help you stay healthy. Your team may include:

  • Primary healthcare provider

  • Pulmonologist

  • Allergist

  • Nurses

  • Pharmacist

  • Exercise physiologist

  • Respiratory therapist

  • 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. They may be 1 of these:

  • Family practice doctor. A provider who treats both kids and adults.

  • Internist. A doctor with extra training in internal medicine. This is general medicine for adults.

  • Nurse practitioner (NP). This is an advanced practice registered nurse. They can do many things a medical doctor can. This includes giving a physical exam and writing prescriptions. Some states allow NPs to practice on their own. Other states require them to practice under the direction of a medical doctor.

  • Physician’s assistant (PA). A PA gives care under the direction of a medical doctor. They can also give you an exam and write prescriptions.

You’ll see your primary healthcare provider most of the time. But if your asthma isn't under control, they may refer you to a specialist. You may see a pulmonologist or an allergist (see description below).

Pulmonologist

This provider treats diseases of the airways and lungs. They have extra years of training in the respiratory system and how to treat lung diseases. 

Allergist

This provider is also called an immunologist. They have extra training in treating asthma and allergies.

Nurses

These providers 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 a certain type of advanced practice registered nurse, including:

  • Nurse practitioner, such as a family nurse practitioner or acute care nurse practitioner

  • Nurse midwife

  • Nurse anesthetist

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

Pharmacist

They work in a pharmacy, hospital, or medical center. They're trained in providing medicines. And they can tell you how to use them safely. A pharmacist knows which medicines shouldn't be used together. They can also tell you about medicine side effects.

Exercise physiologist

This person is trained in how to do safe exercises. Exercise is key to staying healthy. But it can trigger asthma attacks for some people. This team member can design a safe fitness or exercise program for you.

Respiratory therapist

This provider works in different places such as hospitals and outpatient clinics. They work with your other providers to do certain tests and give medicines. They also teach people about their lung condition, medicines, and medical equipment.

Mental healthcare provider

Emotional stress can trigger asthma attacks. And coping with asthma can cause stress for you and your family. A mental healthcare provider can help you and your family cope with this 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). An LCSW has a master’s degree in social work. They've passed a state exam. They can also help you find financial aid and other resources.

  • Psychologist. This provider has a master’s degree or doctorate in psychology. They may be trained in other methods.

  • Psychiatrist. This is a type of medical doctor. They can prescribe medicine.

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

Choosing asthma healthcare providers

Make sure members of your healthcare team 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 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 providers as needed? 

Working with your healthcare team

You're part of the team, too. Make sure to:

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

  • Use your medicines. You may have maintenance and rescue medicines. Use them as directed. Talk with your team if you need help using your medicines.

  • Write down your questions. Bring them with you to appointments. Don't be afraid to ask them.

  • Keep track of your symptoms. Note what makes your asthma worse (triggers). Bring the information with you to provider visits. This can help you and your team manage your asthma.

  • Keep in contact. Go to regular checkups. Tell your team if you’re having trouble managing your asthma.

Online Medical Reviewer: Deborah Pedersen MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals BSN MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2022
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