Asthma affects almost 1 in 13 Americans, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Recently, there have been a few changes in the management of asthma.
Most patients see specialists frequently to improve their health and quality of life. While that is great, having a primary care physician to manage the condition is equally vital.
Primary care physicians frequently manage patients with asthma. Interestingly, some allergy doctors recommend that their patients visit primary care physicians along with their treatment.
In this piece, we’ll explain who a primary care physician is. More importantly, we’ll show you the primary care doctor’s role in asthma management and other common questions patients have regarding these professionals.
What Is a Primary Care Physician?
In the medical field, a primary care physician (PCP) is the patients’ first point of contact. A primary care physician is the first medical professional that patients visit for routine checks or non-emergency issues.
Although doctors make up the vast majority of PCPs, nurse practitioners and physician assistants (PAs) also have the option to practice as primary care providers.
Having a primary care physician is crucial to your well-being since they are the only doctors you see regularly. They are educated to identify and treat a wide variety of illnesses.
As a result, your PCP can diagnose and treat your asthma to alleviate symptoms and forestall future attacks.
What Makes an Asthma Specialist Different from a Primary Care Physician?
Asthma specialists are often doctors who have completed residency programs in either pulmonology or allergy and immunology. Pulmonology is the study and treatment of lung illnesses, while immunology is the diagnosis and treatment of allergic diseases.
Asthma specialists’ education is comparable to that of your primary care doctor.
To practice as a primary care physician or an Asthma specialist, one must first get a medical degree. After that, they complete an internship and residency in either internal medicine or pediatrics.
After completing general medical training, an asthma specialist will devote another two to three years to training in their particular field. An asthma specialist will likely focus on asthma and related diseases during the specialty training.
Why You Need a Primary Care Physician for Asthma Treatment
Patients often ask whether they need a primary care physician to manage their asthma. These questions stem from primary care provider shortage issues in many regions of the United States, particularly in rural communities.
In some cases, insurers may also limit the doctors that patients can visit.
If you are unsure how a primary care doctor can improve your asthma, the following are some answers.
1. Better Health Outcomes
According to studies, patients with chronic asthma do better when their primary care doctors coordinate their treatment. Primary care doctors are credited with this success because of their efforts to give ongoing support in lifestyle and dietary guidance.
Your primary care doctor will consider your current health and your family’s medical history while treating you. Quick care clinics and urgent care centers may provide basic services. A primary care physician is more likely to understand your lifestyle and habits thoroughly, such as why you smoke and choose unhealthy foods.
Your primary care doctor will propose preventative measures and keep an eye on your asthma with the help of your asthma action plan.
A long-term connection with your primary care physician helps you avoid expensive medical expenditures. That is because they decrease the demand for emergency hospital visits and hospitalization.
2. Care for the Whole Person
Having a primary care physician in your care team means you have a go-to for all your healthcare needs.
For example, if you are living with diabetes, your asthma specialist may not want to see you. Managing issues like diabetes and hypertension may be beyond the scope of practice for your asthma specialist.
Even if well-trained and experienced, they may be too swamped with patients to pay attention to your health concerns. However, your PCP can provide preventative care, treat acute illnesses and minor accidents, and manage other chronic problems alongside asthma.
Your primary care physician may also coordinate your treatment with the right healthcare experts to guarantee the safest and most successful response.
3. Efficient Medication Management
Your primary care physician may act as a gatekeeper by keeping track of all the drugs you take, not just those for asthma.
Your primary care physician monitors your medication regimen. Their job is to ensure no harmful side effects or drug interactions occur due to any adjustments you make to your dose.
Many doctors’ offices have electronic medical record (EMR) systems that store the diagnosis, prescriptions, medical history, vaccination dates, allergies, and other critical information about each patient. Your primary care physician will get alerts from the EMR’s notification system if there is a potential interaction between the medications you are taking or any unwanted side effects.
Your primary care physician (PCP) is in a prime position to address these concerns, modify your medicines, and coordinate care with your asthma specialist.
Asthma is manageable with professional care and exams regularly. Maintaining asthma control requires diligence in following prescribed therapy and cooperation with your primary care provider.
Your primary care doctor can prescribe long-term medication to help prevent asthma attacks and lessen their severity if they occur. The medical professional will also instruct you on how to use a rescue inhaler to alleviate asthma attacks effectively
Who is a Primary Care Provider?
A primary care provider (PCP) is a doctor or nurse who focuses on the whole health of their patients rather than just one particular area of their health. Your primary care physician (PCP) is responsible for coordinating all your healthcare requirements and treating various ailments, diseases, and injuries prevalent in adults.
Must my PCP be a Doctor?
No, no rule says your PCP must be a doctor. Although doctors make up the vast majority of primary care physicians (PCPs), nurse practitioners and physician assistants sometimes fill this role.
Do I Need a PCP and an Asthma Specialist?
Patients often believe they do not need the services of two physicians. Many patients consider their asthma specialists their primary care physicians (PCP). On the other hand, including a primary care physician on your team of medical professionals is highly recommended.
While your asthma specialist can treat asthma well, they may not be able to treat other health issues. Ideally, you want your specialist to handle complications while your PCP gives your routine medical care.