What Is a Family Physician?

Can A Family Doc Care For My Asthma?

Doctor explaining inhaler to patient and mother
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Primary care physicians or PCPs can help you navigate the health care system, make recommendations to optimize your health, and help improve your asthma control. Family physicians are just one of the doctors that can help with your asthma symptoms.

What Is A Family Physician?

Family physicians provide care from newborns to geriatrics and can provide an adult or child the majority of the care they need both in a hospital or the outpatient clinic.

Not only do family physicians provide asthma care and treatment for other respiratory diseases like copd, family physicians can provide comprehensive care across all life events and spectrums of disease such as obstetrics, newborn care, routine care for children and adults, women’s health, mental health, and prevention. A family physician may be asked to see an asthmatic before surgery if a preoperative evaluation evaluation is needed.

After medical school, family medicine physicians complete a general residency in family practice and must pass an exam sponsored by the American Board of Family Medicine to become board certified.

What Does An Family Medicine Doctor Treat

An family medicine doctor treats many many different medical conditions and problems. In addition to asthma, your family medicine doctor probably treats many of the following diseases in both children and adults:

  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Atopic dermatitis or eczema
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Menstrual problems
  • Obstetric care
  • Pneumonia
  • Rashes

What Are The Advantages Of Being Treated By An Family Medicine Specialist?

Your family doctor will partner with you to achieve better asthma control.

There are a number of advantages to having a primary care doctor lead your asthma treatment you may want to consider including:

  • A single doctor leading the treatment of all of your medical problems.
  • Consulting a specialist when needed. This may prevent extra trips and travel to different facilities as well as you being comfortable with your PCP.
  • Referrals are based on who you are likely to interact and work with best.
  • Helping you to sort through different treatment recommendations from a specialist or dealing with conflicting recommendations from an allergist and pulmonologist.
  • Helping you understand and implement specialty recommendations.
  • Provide screening and treatment for other medical conditions.

But Do I Need A Specialist?

A family doctor can treat your asthma up to a point. Seeing an allergist or pulmonologist is reasonable and appropriate in any of the following scenarios:

  • You suffered a life threatening asthma attack or your care required admisson to an intensive care unit.
  • You or your doctor cannot identify the trigger for a significant asthma attack or hospital admission.
  • Your asthma remains poorly controlled after 3–6 months of treatment and you have adhered to the treatment plan to the best of your ability.

For a number of different reason, patients are not always referred when they should be. If you or your child fall into any of the previously mentioned categories or just think you might benefit from subspecialty care, raise the issue with your doctor. Do not be afraid to ask or be worried that you are over stepping your bounds. Some doctors are not up to date with the latest recommendations for when referral is appropriate or they may have just not considered it.

Do Specialist Provide Better Care Than Family Docs?

This answer is somewhat complicated will probably depend on who you ask. There are small but measurable differences in research studies, but in the real world not all areas of the country have access to all types of specialists. If you fit into any of the previously mentioned scenarios or just want a specialist’s opinion, you should discuss a referral with your family medicine doctor.

Can A Family Medicine Doctor Treat My Child?

Pediatrics is a part of a family medicine doctor’s training. While they do not receive as much pediatric training as a pediatrician, they are qualified and capable to treat your child’s asthma. Not all doctors have equal experience or interest in asthma, I suggest just asking your family doctor if they feel an asthma specialist is needed.


Alford G. When Do You Need an Asthma Specialist? Asthma Magazine. Volume 8. July-August 2003.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed: July 21, 2015. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma

The American Board of Family Medicine. What Is Family Medicine?. Accessed on July 21, 2015.

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