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Asthma in Teens and Adults - When to Call a Doctor

Call911or other emergency services right away if:

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your symptoms do not get better after you have followed your asthma action plan.
  • You have new or worse trouble breathing.
  • Your coughing and wheezing get worse.
  • You cough up dark brown or bloody mucus (sputum).
  • You have a new or higher fever.

Call your doctor if:

  • You need to use quick-relief medicine on more than 2 days a week (unless it is just for exercise).
  • You cough more deeply or more often, especially if you notice more mucus or a change in the color of your mucus.
  • You have asthma and your peak flow has been getting worse for 2 to 3 days.

If you have not been diagnosed with asthma but have mild asthma symptoms, call your doctor and make an appointment for an evaluation.

Teen asthma

If your teenager has symptoms of asthma, it is important to see a doctor. Many teens with frequent wheezing may have asthma but aren't diagnosed with the disease. Teens who have asthma but are less likely to be diagnosed are most often:10

  • Girls.
  • Smokers, or teens who are exposed to household cigarette smoke.
  • Those with low socioeconomic status.
  • Those who have allergies.
  • African Americans, Native Americans, or Mexican Americans.

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is a "wait and see" approach.

Watchful waiting may be appropriate if you follow your asthma action plan and stay within the green zone. Watch your symptoms, and continue to avoid your asthma triggers.

If you have been getting treatment for 1 to 3 months but aren't improving, ask your doctor if you need to see an asthma specialist.

Who to see

Doctors who can diagnose and treat asthma include:

You may need to see a specialist (allergist or pulmonologist) if you have:

  • Severe persistent asthma.
  • Other medical conditions that make it hard to treat asthma.
  • A need for more education or trouble following your asthma action plan.
  • Not met the goals of treatment after several months of therapy.
  • Had a life-threatening asthma attack.
  • Skin testing for allergies.
  • Occupational asthma.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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