How to get the best from your asthma review

Your asthma review is a good chance to talk about managing your asthma well.

An asthma review is an appointment with your GP or asthma nurse to talk about your asthma and any ways you can manage your symptoms better. 

Guidelines state that everyone with asthma should have an asthma review at least once a year, while those with severe asthma should have one more often. And if your child has asthma make sure they go for regular reviews too.

Usually your GP surgery will invite you for your annual review. If your surgery hasn’t invited you, book an appointment yourself.

“If you’re having asthma symptoms, don’t wait for your annual check. Give your surgery a call and get seen sooner,” Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UK’s in-house GP.

Why it's worth going to your asthma review

An asthma review is a great opportunity to make sure you’re getting the right treatment for your asthma. It could help you keep free of symptoms. This is your chance to ask questions about anything that’s worrying you - whether you’re using your inhaler correctly, for example, or any triggers or symptoms you’re noticing.

It’s worth going to your annual asthma review to make sure your asthma stays well managed, so you can get on with doing the things you enjoy. Even if you’re feeling well with your asthma go to your review - it could be that you’ll be able to cut down your asthma medicines.

In our 2017 annual survey most people (75%) told us they'd had an annual asthma review. 

At your asthma review you can:

  • review your medicines to make sure they’re still working well for you
  • have tests like spirometry and peak flow to see how well your lungs are functioning, and how well your medicines are working
  • talk through any symptoms bothering you or triggers you’ve noticed
  • discuss reducing your asthma medicines if you’ve had no symptoms and not needed your reliever inhaler for three months
  • check you’re taking your inhaler in the right way so the medicine ends up in your lungs where it’s needed
  • update your written asthma action plan, based on your peak flow and/or your symptoms
  • ask about other things that might help your asthma such as stop smoking support and starting to exercise.

How to make the best of your asthma review

Here are some ideas to help you prepare for your appointment so you can get the best out of it:  

Before you go...

Write down any questions you want to ask. For example:

  • Am I on the right dose of medicine?
  • Is this the best inhaler for me?
  • How can I cope with triggers?
  • What do I do if symptoms get worse?
  • How can I get into a good routine with my asthma medicines?
  • Can I get stop smoking support?

Keep a note of any symptoms

Every day, note how you feel, whether you’ve taken your medicines as prescribed, and whether you’ve noticed any triggers. It makes it easier to remember and give your GP or asthma nurse an accurate picture. Write down anything you think might be a symptom, even if you’re not sure – you’ll be able to discuss whether it’s connected to your asthma and what you can do about it. 

Try recording symptoms on your phone

When you have symptoms, take a video of yourself on your phone. Or you could ask someone else to film you. If you don’t have symptoms on the day, showing your GP or nurse a video quickly gives them a clear idea of what your symptoms are like so you don’t have to try to describe it, and can make more of your asthma review time

Take along all your inhalers and spacers

Your GP or asthma nurse can check your inhaler technique – even a small tweak to the way you take your inhalers can make a big difference.

Take along your asthma action plan

Your annual asthma review is a great time to look through your asthma action plan and make any changes. If the GP changes your medicines this can be noted down on the action plan. Don't have one yet? Find out more about why these plans can help you stay well and download one here

At your appointment...

Be open about lifestyle, symptoms and taking your asthma medicines

If you keep forgetting to take your inhaler, or don’t take it because you’re worried about side effects, for example, be honest. Your GP or asthma nurse will want to find ways to support you. 

Lifestyle factors - such as being overweight or smoking - can make your asthma worse. Ask your GP or asthma nurse how you can make some changes to help your health. They can help you with weight loss and quitting smoking.

Talk about any complementary therapies you’ve tried

Be open about any complementary therapies you've been using, from herbs to acupuncture. Don't worry about discussing this with your GP or asthma nurse. Sometimes complementary medicines can interfere with your treatment, so it's vital your GP or asthma nurse knows if you've been taking anything else.

Don’t leave your asthma review without…

  • an updated written asthma action plan.
  • answers to your questions and concerns.
  • knowing what medicines to take and why.
  • feeling confident you’re using your inhaler(s) and spacer in the right way.

  • booking your next review. Ask if there’s a text or email reminder service.

Seeing your GP or asthma nurse at other times

You don’t need to wait for your annual review to see your GP or asthma nurse about your asthma. If you're worried about anything you can make an appointment at any time. Use a written asthma action plan so you’re clear when you need to see your GP or asthma nurse.

Make sure you see your GP or asthma nurse about your asthma:

  • Within 24 hours if asthma symptoms have been getting worse, you need to use your reliever inhaler three or more times a week, or you’ve had an asthma attack.
  • Within two working days if you’ve had to go to hospital with an asthma attack.
  • Within four to eight weeks if your prescription has changed.
  • After 12 weeks if you’ve had no symptoms. You should be on the lowest dose of medicine needed to keep you free of symptoms. Depending on your triggers and the pattern of your symptoms, you and your GP or asthma nurse can talk about keeping you on the same dose of medicines or reducing your dose.
  • If you have seasonal triggers like hay fever.  Go the month before your hay fever usually starts. Managing hay fever symptoms is an important way of managing your asthma. Your GP or asthma nurse may also step up your asthma treatment beforehand to provide extra protection.
  • If you want to talk about having a flu jab in the autumn.

Remember

This is your chance to get information about your asthma and the best way to look after it, so ask as many questions as you need to.

Don't be afraid to ask your GP or asthma nurse to repeat anything you don't understand. You could say something like: "I'm not quite sure I heard what you said about X. Would you mind going over it again?"

If you're still in doubt, or you don’t feel satisfied with your review, call our Helpline and talk to our experienced asthma nurse specialists: 0300 222 5800 (9am-5pm; Mon-Fri).

 

Last updated January 2018

Next review due December 2019