Allercy and Asthma Health
The Official Publication of AAN - MA

Is There a Role for Cell Phone Applications in the Self-Management of Asthma?


by Andre Finley, BSCRC, RRT-NPS

Affecting close to 26 million people in the United States, asthma is one of the more chronic health conditions in this country. It affects primarily young children, less than 17 years old, females, and certain ethnic groups, though any person may have or develop asthma.

The severity of asthma symptoms can range from mild to life threatening.  Treatment for attacks often leads to missed school days for children and decreased productivity and missed days of work for adults. The treatments are costly for the health care system, and more importantly, for you, the patient.

With proper management, you can achieve asthma control, and its impact on daily life can be minimized. Proper management includes knowledge of what medicines to take and when, knowledge of triggers, and when to seek treatment from your physician or a hospital. This information is usually available in the form of a written asthma action plan, developed with your health care provider.

Cell phones are becoming another tool to aid in the management of asthma and achieving good control of its symptoms. Specifically, software applications (apps) are being developed to help people with asthma.  Apps targeting health care conditions are not new, but ones specific to asthma have so far trailed other chronic conditions. They are being developed more frequently now and include such apps as the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” app.

There are other apps for educating about asthma, asthma medications, treatments, and logs, as well as information specifically for children. These apps are available for all computer operating systems.

It is important to remember that, while convenient, not all apps are suitable for all patients. Apps provide general information but are not tailored to the individual like a written asthma action plan. They are another potential tool for managing asthma but are not a substitute for guidance from your care provider and they are not an asthma action plan. If apps are of interest to you, consult with your health care provider to find the correct one for your needs.

Andre Finley, BSCRC, RRT-NPS, is a respiratory therapist and clinical research coordinator at Children’s Hospital in Dallas, TX.

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