For Allergy & Asthma Awareness Month this May, we have put together a tips series for RTs. Each week, we’ll post advice from your fellow AARC Members with tips on how best to help patients who are working to manage their allergies and asthma.
This week, Tim Op’t Holt EdD, RRT, AE-C, FAARC, from Alabama, shares his best practices for helping patients.
Managing asthma and allergies is complex, but there are lots of good resources. Patients should have a competent allergist/immunologist/pulmonary/primary care doctor who has experience with allergies and asthma.
Test for allergies
To start, anyone who thinks they have allergies should be tested for what allergies they may have. Once this is known, they have the option of allergy shots. Otherwise, they need to do whatever they can to eliminate those allergens from their living space.
The most common allergens/irritants are cockroaches, cats, dust mites, vermin, pollen, cigarette smoke, and mold.
The Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America has great resources for environmental control and a periodic newsletter.
Have a plan
Anyone with asthma should have a written asthma action plan so they can determine on a frequent basis their asthma condition and implement appropriate therapy. That tends to keep people out of the Emergency Department.
All patients should have knowledge of asthma as well as know:
- The severity of their asthma
- What their triggers are and how to control them
- What their medications are and how to take them
- When and where to seek medical attention
The AARC has an excellent patient guide to aerosols that is available at the website free.
Care and assistance
Asthma specialty offices should have a patient educator to assist with this. For patients of limited incomes, the drug companies have patient assistance programs to provide medications free.