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Teaching Tips for Using the Asthma Signs Diary

by Thomas F. Plaut, M.D.
These tips can help you teach parents of young children how to use an asthma signs diary effectively. If time is limited, explain only a single category (medicines, signs and symptoms or comments) and continue instruction at the next visit. We send the diary out to patients before their first asthma consultation. We find that most of them can understand the written instructions and can fill out much of the diary without difficulty. We review and analyze their record with them at the first visit.

Triggers, Comments
  • Ask the parent to look for triggers when a sign of asthma appears.
  • Talk about the effect of triggers (such as cold air, cigarette smoke, cats, exercise) on the signs of asthma.
  • Compare the effect of an upper respiratory tract infection on the signs and symptoms of asthma before and after an effective preventive treatment plan is in place.
  • Illustrate ways the patient can avoid triggers, pretreat before encountering anticipated triggers, and/or use medicine to eliminate symptoms caused by triggers.
  • Instruct parents to record visits to health care providers, as well as other significant events.
Signs
  • Remind parents that using the signs score will make communicating with the office easier.

Medicines

  • Record the brand name, dose and frequency of each medication in the first column. Ask the parent to record each dose.
  • Calculate and record the discard date for each inhaler.
  • Usually inhaled steroids take one to four weeks to produce a full effect.
  • An inhaled beta-agonist usually reduces the signs of asthma within one to ten minutes

Record keeping

  • Suggest that your patients record data each morning, half an hour after rising.
  • Once the parent understands asthma triggers and asthma medicines, and the child has been in the green zone for at least one month, it is safe to reduce the frequency of recording.
  • Some parents find they need to make entries in the diary only when signs of asthma are present, when they change their medication routine and when they enter a threatening environment.

PLEASE REFER TO THE FOLLOWING RESOURCES:

Signs Based Asthma Action Plan


Asthma Signs Diary

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