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Schedule doctor appointments now for pediatric asthma

Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014 · Volume: XLVII · Issue: 11

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Pamela R. Wood, M.D., urges parents to schedule doctor appointments for their child’s asthma over the summer so that they will have a new asthma action plan ready for the new school year.
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Pamela R. Wood, M.D., urges parents to schedule doctor appointments for their child’s asthma over the summer so that they will have a new asthma action plan ready for the new school year. clear graphic

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Contact: Catherine Duncan, 210-567-2570

SAN ANTONIO (May 19, 2014) – With the school year winding down, parents and children are thinking less about homework and more about fun in the sun.

However, Pamela R. Wood, M.D., a pediatrician with UT Kids San Antonio, said summer is the perfect time for parents to schedule annual asthma appointments with their children’s doctor.

Plan ahead for the fall
“As the summer begins, many parents do not remember to schedule their child’s asthma appointment because symptoms usually lessen in the summer months. Some children do so well in the summer that they don’t have to use their asthma medications. Symptoms are usually worse in the fall and winter months. Infections, such a cold, are the major asthma triggers,” she said.

Symptoms of asthma
Asthma is a chronic disease that inflames and narrows the airways of the lungs. Symptoms are wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 million children in the United States have asthma. The prevalence is higher in children from families with limited resources.

“By seeing the doctor during the summer, the doctor and parents will be able to make a new written asthma action plan, get prescriptions for all medicines, and make sure they have a spacer for school and a spacer for home,” Dr. Wood said.

The spacer is a plastic device that connects to the inhaler. The medicine goes into the spacer tube first, and then the child breathes it in over a brief period of time. The spacer increases the amount of medicine that goes into the lungs. “It is imperative children have one (spacer) at school and one at home,” she said.

Asthma action plan
Dr. Wood stressed the importance of creating a new written asthma action plan, which is a one-page form she helped develop that is used citywide. The asthma action plan outlines the medication needed during three stages:
  • daily preventive medicine when no symptoms are present;
  • quick-relief medicine needed when an asthma attack is underway; and
  • emergency medicine needed when the asthma attack has become dangerous and a trip to the doctor’s office or emergency room also is required.
New plan required each school year
“Most school districts do not honor the asthma action plan from the previous year. They will want the student to return to school with a current action plan,” she said. “If the parents, school and student follow the action plan, asthma can be controlled. Our goal is to keep children from ending up in the doctor’s office or the hospital. We want to keep them well and attending school.”

UT Kids San Antonio is the academic pediatric practice of the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. For more information about UT Kids San Antonio, visit UTKids.org. Patients are seen in clinics in the University Health System. UT Kids pediatric pulmonologists and allergists see patients downtown at the Robert B. Green Campus. For an appointment, call 210-358-5437.

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UT Medicine San Antonio is the clinical practice of the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. With more than 700 doctors — all School of Medicine faculty members — UT Medicine is the largest medical practice in Central and South Texas. Expertise is in more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties. Primary care doctors and specialists see patients in private practice at UT Medicine’s flagship clinical home, the Medical Arts & Research Center (MARC), located at 8300 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio 78229. Most major health plans are accepted, and UT Medicine physicians also practice at several local and regional hospitals. Call 210-450-9000 to schedule an appointment, or visit http://www.utmedicine.org for a list of clinics and phone numbers.

 
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