What is an asthma review?
An asthma review is a routine check-up with your GP or asthma nurse to see how your asthma is.
“It’s worth going to your annual asthma review even if you’re feeling well with your asthma,” says Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma + Lung UK's GP.
“If you haven’t had symptoms for some time, you can talk to your GP about cutting down on your asthma medicines.”
Your GP or asthma nurse can talk to you about:
- How your symptoms are affecting you, if they’re keeping you awake at night, or stopping you from getting on with things
- Your medicines and inhalers, how often you use them, and your inhaler technique
- Your asthma attack risk
- Your asthma action plan, and if your action plan needs updating.
Usually, your GP surgery will invite you for an annual asthma review. If your surgery hasn't invited you, it’s fine to book an appointment yourself.
Most people go for an asthma review at least once a year. If you have difficult or severe asthma, you may need to go for an asthma review more often.
Online review appointments
During the coronavirus pandemic, most asthma reviews have been done remotely. This means that they happen over the telephone or over a video consultation.
“Most parts of an asthma review can be done remotely,” says Dr Andy, “including peak flow if you have a peak flow meter and chart at home. If you’re able to have a video appointment, you can also check your inhaler technique.”
Ten top tips to get the best from your asthma review
- Write down any questions you want to ask before you go. This is your chance to get answers to anything bothering you about your asthma or your medicines.
- Keep a note of any asthma symptoms you get and when you get them. This is handy for spotting any new triggers and gives your GP or asthma nurse a good idea of how your asthma’s been.
- Film yourself having symptoms or ask someone else to. This can be easier than trying to describe your symptoms at the appointment. It’s a useful way to quickly show your GP or asthma nurse what’s going on. But don’t delay giving yourself treatment or getting help.
- Remember to have your inhalers and spacer with you so you can check your technique – even small changes to how you use your inhaler can make a big difference.
- Make sure you have your asthma action plan so it can be updated. If you haven’t got one, find out more about how they’re an essential part of your asthma care and download one here.
- Be open and honest at your appointment, whether it’s forgetting to take your inhaler or finding it hard to quit smoking. Get the support you need so your asthma doesn’t get worse.
- Talk about any complementary therapies you’ve tried. People can sometimes find complementary therapies helpful, but it’s good to check they’re not interfering with your asthma treatment.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your GP or asthma nurse to repeat anything you don’t understand. It’s important that you understand what medicines you take and why.
- Don’t leave your appointment without an updated asthma action plan.
- Book your next review as you’re leaving or ask reception if there’s a text or email reminder service so you don’t miss out on your next review.
Seeing your GP or asthma nurse at other times
You don't need to wait for your asthma 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.
Using an asthma action plan makes it easier to know when you need to see your GP or asthma nurse.
See your GP or asthma nurse:
- within 24 hours if your 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. Depending on your triggers and the pattern of your symptoms, your GP or asthma nurse can talk about keeping you on the same dose of medicines, or reducing your dose. They will aim for the lowest dose of medicine needed to keep you free of symptoms.
- a month before your hay fever season. Managing hay fever symptoms is an important way of managing your asthma. Your GP or asthma nurse may also increase your asthma treatment beforehand to give you extra protection.