Why see a specialist for your asthma?
Asthma is common inflammatory disorder of the airways. It can affect some people only when they catch a cold or exercise while other people may have daily symptoms and have to alter their lifestyle because of asthma. Despite attempts to categorize patients, most experts agree that each individual's asthma acts differently and has different triggers. Furthermore, it can be silent and some asthmatics may have low grade symptoms and not feel it because they are able to compensate. This can be picked up on exam and with special tests performed by your doctor.
It is extremely important for anyone with asthma to have a doctor who helps them manage this disorder. Recent studies have shown that Allergists, who are asthma experts, are able to improve the outcomes of their patients compared to other physicians. This is most important for asthmatics who are moderate to severe because they are the most at risk for adverse outcomes due to their disease. A 1998 National Jewish Medical Center Scientific Update showed a 77% reduction in asthma related hospitalizations of specialist treated asthmatics compared to those treated by non-specialists. Other recent studies have shown a 45% reduction in sick care office visits, a 76% reduction in lost time from work or school and a 95% reduction in the cost for inpatient care for hospitalized asthmatics.
An allergist can improve the care of asthmatic patients because of the extensive training they have recieved. This training extends 2 or 3 years beyond standard training and includes allergic and immunologic disorders such as allergy and asthma. This training allows the allergist to:
- Accurately diagnose asthma with acceptable clinical and diagnostic tests
- Identify allergic and non-allergic triggers
- Advise asthmatics on environmental changes that would benefit their outcome
- Treat asthma with the most advanced and efficacious medications
- Treat asthma with allergy immunotherapy (shots)
- Spend time in educating the patient about their disease
Asthma is a common chronic and life altering disorder that should be followed closely by a trained physician. There are many therapies that can accommodate all patients' treatment preferences and goals. By working closely with a trained specialist an asthmatic and their family will understand the choices available to them.
Advice From Your Allergist on Asthma
Asthma affects an estimated 14.9 million Americans and is one of the leading causes of school and work absences. The direct and indirect costs for asthma total over $11.3 billion annually, with about 1.5 million emergency department visits, 500,000 hospitalizations and 5,500 deaths. Although its exact cause remains a mystery and no cure exists, many excellent treatment options are available to control symptoms and reverse this chronic obstruction of the airways.
Although no cure exists for asthma, excellent treatment is available for control of symptoms. We learn more about it every year, and newer, more effective and safer drugs are always being developed. As a result, most patients live normal, productive lives. Research is continuing and the outlook is bright. For more information, contact your allergist.
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
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