Managing Asthma

Asthma is a condition where the inside walls of a person’s airways become sore and swollen. Asthma causes symptoms such as recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and shortness of breath. Asthma is treated with two kinds of medications: quick-relief medicines to stop asthma symptoms, and long-term control medicines to prevent symptoms. See the NC Health Info page on Asthma for more information.

There are several different kinds of medical providers that can help you manage your asthma. These providers often work together as a team to help you develop a personalized asthma care plan.

You can use your health insurance plan’s directory to find an asthma care provider in your network. Or you can use the Physician Compare directory from to find a provider that accepts Medicare. Enter your city or zip code and “Pulmonary Disease” in the search box titled “What are you searching for?” Directories for specific types of providers are listed below.

Primary Care Providers

A primary care provider (PCP) may be a family physician, nurse practitioner, internist, or physician’s assistant. Generally, you see a PCP for checkups, common health problems, and when you get sick. The PCP is usually the first health care professional you will see. Since asthma can be complicated, your PCP may put together a team of providers to help you with whatever asthma-related issues you may have. Your PCP will coordinate your care among these other specialists and team members. Your health insurance plan may require you to get the doctor’s referral for visits to the other health professionals on the team.

Family Physicians

A family physician, is a general practitioner with additional specialty training and expertise in dealing with patients of all ages. Family physicians may provide both preventive care (routine checkups) and diagnosis and treatment of a chronic illness, like asthma. A family physician will coordinate your care with other subspecialists when needed. Some family physicians have special training in asthma. Use the American Board of Family Medicine to find a family physician.

Nurse Practitioners

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse with a master’s or doctoral degree and advanced clinical training. NPs can diagnose, develop a plan of care, and prescribe treatments and medications for your asthma. NPs teach patients self-management and maintain close communication between visits. Use the American Association of Nurse Practitioners directory to find a nurse practitioner. Be sure to accept the AANP’s Terms of Use before you hit “search.”

Physician’s Assistants

A physician’s assistant (PA) is a licensed and certified professional who provides a range of services under the direction and supervision of a doctor. PAs use effective screening and diagnostic procedures for pre-asthma and asthma. They can establish treatment goals for you, teach you about healthy lifestyles, and motivate you to take care of yourself. To find a PA who treats asthma use the North Carolina Medical Board Licensee Search. Choose Physician Assistant as the License Type and Pulmonary Disease as the Area of Practice. Leave the other fields blank.



Other Providers


Allergists are medical practitioners specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and other allergy problems. They are trained to select tests that pinpoint the relevant allergen, which enables them to choose optimal therapies for individual patients. Use this directory from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology to locate an allergist by entering your zip code.


A pediatrician is a medical doctor who manages the physical, mental and behavioral health of babies, children and teenagers. A pediatrician is trained to diagnose and treat a variety of childhood illnesses from minor health problems to serious diseases, including asthma. To find a pediatrician near you, use this directory from the American Academy of Pediatrics. You can search by country, state and city, or zip code.


A Pulmonologist is a specialist who has training in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of lung and respiratory illnesses. A pulmonologist has additional training in internal medicine and pulmonology and can treat asthma and other breathing conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, and emphysema. To find a pulmonologist near you, search this Finding Care (American Association for Respiratory Care).


Many people are surprised to learn that certain foods may affect their breathing. For example, a diet high in salt can cause the body to retain water, which may make it harder to breathe. To locate a registered dietitian nutritionist, use this directory from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. To find an expert that specifically accepts Medicare, use the Physicians Compare directory provided by Enter your zip code and select “Registered dietitian/Nutritional professional” from the drop-down menu.

Mental Health Care Providers

Living with a chronic medical condition such as asthma can sometimes affect your mental health. To locate a counselor to help you manage the psychological stress of coping with your asthma, use this directory by the Licensed Professional Counselors of North Carolina.



Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Complementary and Alternative Therapies, sometimes called Complementary and Integrative Medicine, are treatments that are not part of standard medicine, such as acupuncture and chiropractic. It is a term used for a wide variety of health care practices that may be used along with, or instead of, mainstream medical treatment. An example of such therapy is using acupuncture to help reduce nausea after surgery and chemotherapy. For more information on the use of Complementary and Alternative Therapies related to asthma care, visit the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. The Mayo Clinic also has a page about which home remedies are most likely to work for asthma.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that examine whether a medical treatment or device is safe and effective for human beings. Many of the drugs and therapies available today are the result of clinical trials. To learn more, and to decide whether participating in a clinical trial is right for you, visit; a service of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Help and Support

There are many support groups, advocacy organizations, blogs, social media, and news sources to help you cope with asthma. The asthma online community is made up of patients, caregivers, health care providers, and associations who offer support and share their knowledge to anyone touched by asthma. To learn more about online disease support communities, use this directory provided by the American Lung Association. To find a local support group that meets face-to-face, use this directory to locate the closest Better Breathers Club.



Financial Assistance

Asthma Supplies: Information about financial assistance with asthma medication, supplies and related health care items and services can be found at the Medicine Assistance Tool.

Free and Reduced Cost Clinics: Use this directory from the North Carolina Institute of Medicine to search over 300 free and reduced cost clinics across North Carolina by location, hours of operation, insurance accepted (private, Medicaid, uninsured etc.) and type of service provided.

Need More Information?

Do you have a health related question? You are welcome to use the Health Sciences Library’s Ask a Librarian service.

Our librarians are happy to help you with questions such as “How is diabetes diagnosed?” or “What is heart disease?”. We can not answer questions about an individual’s medical case or care. Please contact your doctor for specific medical advice.



Page authored by UNC Health Sciences Library Staff.

Last updated February 14, 2024 at 4:59 pm