Asthma is a medical condition that has been recognised for several centuries. It was first described by Dr. John Floyer in 1698. He recognised the episodic nature of asthma and that the treatment should involve rescue from the episode and control of the condition. By 1900, it was established that certain types of asthma could be triggered by allergens in the environment.
The Asthma Nurse
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An asthma nurse has extra training in treatment of asthma. She may work in schools, clinics or in the community. An asthma nurse works closely with patients and is a member of a multidisciplinary team. One of the key elements of her work is to educate her patients. Therefore, she needs to be up to date with any research findings or developments that may affect the treatment and management of this condition.
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The most useful tool an asthma nurse can provide an asthma sufferer is the ability to manage his own condition. Most asthma sufferers recognise that stress does not help their condition. Fear and lack of control can cause stress, and the antidote is to have as much information as possible on the condition and the best way to manage it. The asthma will still flare up at times, and the patient will require intervention. However, good management might lessen the acute episodes.
An Action Plan
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An asthma nurse will be involved in a multidisciplinary team whether she works in a school, clinic or other setting. All will have action plans on how to deal with asthma, and the nurse should be involved in the development of these plans and their implementation. Schools should all have an asthma policy and a resource box, which should include inhalers. The nurse must ensure that all relevant people are correctly trained in the use of the resources and the implementation of plans.
Recognition of Triggers
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An asthma nurse will work closely with individual patients. She will be involved in allergy tests and will help the patient to recognise the triggers that exacerbate his condition. Many allergens have been identified, and some of these are likely to trigger attacks in susceptible people. Common allergens include dust mites, pollen, flowers, cigarette smoke and some foods. The nurse will help the patient to avoid his particular triggers.
An asthma nurse will help the patient to use his inhaler correctly. She will observe the patient using the inhaler and give advice if necessary. The nurse also may check on the suitability of the inhaler and assess if another type might be more appropriate. The nurse will monitor the patient's medication, if this has been prescribed. If necessary, she will give advice on smoking cessation. She will help the patient to recognise any deterioration in his condition. She will be available if the patient wants any particular advice.