It seems like the more I learn about asthma, the more I realize I don’t know. I’m now learning a whole new language of asthma – the correct terms for medications and devices, even how to accurately describe the kind of asthma my son has.
Recently while talking to friends at AANMA, I said that my son doesn’t have severe asthma. What I meant was that, knock on wood, he’s never had an attack that sent us rushing to the hospital. However, I learned there's a difference between having a diagnosis of asthma and experiencing asthma symptoms. That you have asthma whether you are having symptoms or not. And that asthma can be severe, moderate or mild, depending on the day. In fact, asthma can fluctuate from mild to severe or vice versa within the same day.
This is an often confusing concept for someone straining to find telltale signs of asthma. I know the doctor can measure Will’s lung function with spirometry, hear asthma in his chest and even see physical evidence of trapped air on a chest X-ray. Meanwhile I’m left looking (without X-ray vision) and listening as a parent who is just now learning what asthma is. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this new part of our lives – and trying to figure out how I can avoid being either obsessive or laissez-faire.
I know I’ll get better at recognizing his early warning signs as we keep track of symptoms and peak flow meter readings on our AsthmaTracker™ daily diary, but for now, I rely heavily on our doctor. That’s why I always keep our check-up appointments, even when there seems to be nothing wrong. At check-ups, my doctor has been invaluable in answering my many questions and just putting me at ease.
What are your thoughts on the language of asthma – anything you’ve learned that you’d like to share, questions about confusing terms? Feel free to comment below!