Patient Education Programs in Allergy and Asthma
Patient education programs are helpful in ensuring correct use of medication and thus optimum control of symptoms. The World Health Organization/World Allergy Organization meeting report on Prevention of Allergy and Asthma lists the ideal content of patient education programs, based on review of many successful programs from around the world.
The information provided in this section may help you to identify areas for discussion with your doctor which will consolidate your understanding of your allergic disease and help you to manage your symptoms.
The following concepts and content should be included in physician-designed educational programs for patients:
Allergic asthma and allergic rhinitis
Guided self-management plans include:
- Good communication between patient and physician to improve patient compliance
- Understanding about the basic facts, causes and triggers of asthma/ allergic rhinitis
- Identifying and controlling factors that aggravate asthma/rhinitis symptoms and provoke exacerbations
- Following a written action plan to avoid or handle exacerbations
- Understanding the importance of proper drug use and correct use of spacers and inhalers, for long-term control
- Monitoring symptoms and peak flow values in persistent asthma and adjust medication accordingly
Atopic Eczema/Atopic Dermatitis
Educational programs in atopic eczema/atopic dermatitis should include:
- Information about nature, heredity, causes and triggers of atopic dermatitis/eczema
- Importance of identification and avoidance of individual provocation factors, skin care and treatment options, including complementary therapies
- Discussion of diagnosis and treatment of food allergies and adequate nutrition in childhood
- Behaviour-oriented psychological intervention programmes to interrupt the itching-scratching cycle.
- Training to improve stress-management and reduce the negative social effects of illness-specific problems
Severe Reactions, Allergic Anaphylaxis
Each patient should be provided with an individual management protocol to include the importance of:
- Carrying an epinephrine auto-injector and knowing how and when to use it;
- Always having a spare auto-injector available
- Ensuring auto-injectors are replaced as soon as the use-by date has expired
- Carrying an emergency pager or mobile telephone
- Carrying/wearing Medic-Alert information
- Avoiding stinging insects, learning how not to attract them
- Avoiding allergenic ingredients in ready-made food
In school environment:
Education of parents, teachers, fellow students, and school administrators is necessary to provide a safe environment for children at risk for anaphylaxis to foods or insect stings.
- Creating a no-food area of the school playground
- Identifying a supervisor to carry a telephone for emergencies
In occupational environment:
Health and Safety measures should be introduced to prevent exposure of affected workers to airborne or contact allergens
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