Seeking care for airway concerns and conditions can be overwhelming for many patients, especially if they’re experiencing certain symptoms for the first time, or they’re not as knowledgeable about their airway health.
Though there should never be an expectation that patients are experts in airway health and management, encouraging patients to be active participants in their own health journeys, and in the health and treatment of loved ones, can go a long way in mitigating confusion and distress around treatment, and is beneficial for everyone involved.
We have rounded up some questions and topics patients, families and caregivers should ask providers about airway health to stay informed about symptoms, risks and treatments.
Being your own advocate
When learning to advocate for their own health care, patients must often learn to navigate conversations with different physicians, hospitals, pharmacies and other groups, such as disability services. From the outset, it’s helpful for patients to set goals around their health and treatment needs to guide themselves in asking the right questions of health professionals, and in building self-sufficiency and confidence over time.
Some tips for goal setting and self-advocacy include:
- Writing things down: Prior to any appointments, it’s a good idea to write down any questions or concerns to address while speaking with a clinician. It also helps to write takeaways down during the appointment that can be reviewed again later. These notes should be stored in a safe, accessible location for patient, family and caregiver reference later.
- Speak up: Asking questions can sometimes feel intimidating and overwhelming, but the temporary embarrassment of speaking up during an appointment will be offset by the benefits of getting answers about care, and the care of your loved ones. No question is too obvious or silly to ask, and good providers will appreciate your thoroughness and engagement.
- Check medical records: Most healthcare systems offer online portals that allow individuals to view appointments, test results, prescriptions and other info about their health care and medical history. It’s helpful to regularly review these resources, both before and after appointments, to ensure you’re in the loop about your health and able to make the most informed treatment decisions.
- Practice the three P’s: Three values patients, families and caregivers should try to embody when seeking care and engaging with providers are patience, pleasantness and It’s only normal that patients will get frustrated or impatient sometimes or feel discouraged when they’re not getting the answers they want or need, but following these three things will make a huge difference in patients’ self-advocacy and treatment.
Questions about asthma
Asthma is a chronic condition that affects both children and adults and is the most common chronic disease among children. Despite how common it is, asthma can look different for everyone, and symptoms and treatment courses often depend on factors related to age, environment, severity of symptoms and other existing health concerns and conditions.
To advocate for themselves and determine the best course of action for their treatment, asthma patients, as well as their caregivers and family members, should ask providers several specific questions when seeking treatment. These include:
- Am I using my medicine correctly?
- How do I best manage my asthma?
- How to I reduce my asthma triggers?
- Could my home or workplace be making me sick?
- What other health and lifestyle changes can I make to improve my asthma?
Exploring these questions with providers will not only show them that patients are committed to taking charge of their health and wellness, but it will also aid them in helping patients brainstorm ways to maintain a healthy and good quality of life while living with asthma.
Practice and resources
Like with any skill, advocating for yourself and your loved ones in conversations with providers about airway health will get easier over time with practice and a willingness to learn and ask questions when symptoms, needs and concerns arise. Read this THANC Foundation article on practicing self-advocacy to learn more.