Tips to Help Control Allergies and Asthma this Spring

Emily Bush

Emily Bush

Post written by Emily M. Bush, MD, Board Certified Physician in Pediatrics, Health Partnership Clinic

Each year, May is designated National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Springtime is the peak season for asthma and allergies and a good time to educate patients, family and friends about these diseases.

Asthma affects more than 26 million Americans including more than six million children under the age of 18. More than 50 million Americans live with a variety of allergies including pollen, skin, latex and more. Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma.

Approximately 90 percent of kids with asthma have allergies compared to 50 percent of adults with asthma.

Symptoms

Symptoms of allergies can vary in severity. Mild allergy symptoms include congestion, skin rash and itchy watery eyes. Moderate symptoms include difficulty breathing and itchiness.

Symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. Severe asthma symptoms can begin with itching of the eyes and face, but soon progress to swelling, causing breathing difficulties, cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.

Causes

Asthma and AllergySome common causes of allergic asthma are allergens small enough to be breathed into the lungs such as:

  • Windblown pollen from trees, grass and weeds
  • Mold spores and fragments
  • Animal dander from hair, skin or feathers
  • Dust mite feces
  • Cockroach feces

Irritants can also trigger an asthma attack, even if they don’t cause an allergic reaction.  These irritants include:

  • Smoke from tobacco, a fireplace, candles or fireworks
  • Air pollution
  • Cold air
  • Exercise in cold air
  • Strong chemical odors or fumes
  • Perfumes, air fresheners or other scented products
  • Dusty rooms

Controlling Allergens

Web MD offers the following tips to control allergens:

  1. Stay inside when pollen counts are high. Keep your windows closed. If it is hot, use an air conditioner with a clean air filter.
  2. Avoid dust mites. Dust mites live in fabrics and carpet. Wrap you bedding in allergen proof covers. Wash your bed sheets once a week in hot water. Get rid of wall to wall carpet, along with heavy curtains and upholstered furniture, if you can.
  3. Control indoor humidity. If moisture in your house is above 40 percent, use a dehumidifier or air conditioner. This will dry out the air and slow the growth of molds, cockroaches and house dust mites.
  4. Check for pet allergies. If you have pets, get tested to see if they are the cause of your problem. It may be necessary to rehome them or keep them outside. At the very least, ban all pets from the bedroom.
  5. Keep your kitchen and bathroom clean and dry to prevent mold and cockroaches. If you are allergic to cockroaches and you see signs of them in your home, you will have to contact a pest control company, insect spray will not do the trick. Run the exhaust fan when you cook or take a shower to lower the humidity in the room.
  6. Be careful doing work outside. Gardening and raking can stir up pollen and mold. Wear a HEPA filter mask while outside to reduce the amount of pollen and mold particles that get in your lungs.

Remember to schedule regular asthma check-ups with your health care provider and don’t hesitate to seek emergency care when necessary. Appointments are available by calling 913-648-2266.

Behavioral Health Joins Forces with Pediatric Medical and Dental Providers

Moore,Rhiannon

Rhiannon Moore, MA, PSYD

Post written by Rhiannon Moore, MA, PSYD, Licensed Psychologist
Behavioral Health Clinician and Assistant Director of Behavioral Health

In the pursuit of improving overall wellness…

Behavioral Health joins forces with pediatric medical and dental providers

Health Partnership Clinic’s Behavioral Health Team is joining forces with pediatric medical and dental providers to promote overall wellness, routine maintenance of mental health and prevention of mental illness through the provision of integrated Behavioral Health services following pediatric medical visits.

On Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays a Behavioral Health Clinician (BHC) will be collaborating with medical and dental staff to provide same-day brief behavioral health visits for pediatric patients. BHC interactions with patient/parent may include (but are not limited to):

  • Developmental screening
  • BH Peds Pilot pic 1Screening for exposure to traumatic events
  • Depression, anxiety, substance use screening
  • Psychoeducation regarding mental health promotion, prevention and maintenance
  • Education regarding the relationship between physical and mental health
  • Brief interventions to address sleep hygiene, nutrition/physical activity, stress management
  • Parenting education
  • Education regarding available community-based resources
  • Education regarding full spectrum of behavioral health services available through HPC

More extensive visits with a BHC may be scheduled for follow-up care or to address significant mental or behavioral health concerns.

The goal is to provide patients and their parents/guardians with the information and skills needed to prevent and/or manage symptoms of mental illness to reduce the significant negative impact these conditions can have on individuals and families.

Tips for Avoiding Common Asthma Triggers 

Patti West

Patti West, APRN, Nurse Practitioner

Post written by Patti West, APRN, Nurse Practitioner, Health Partnership Clinic 

Does your child suffer from Asthma?

Watching your child struggle to breathe or talk can be very frightening.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2015 and 2016 National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS), about 24.6 million people have asthma, including 6.1 million children.

Children with asthma may experience wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and trouble breathing, often early in the morning or at night.

Because a child has smaller airways than an adult, asthma can be especially serious for them.

While many people may feel relief from their asthma symptoms during the summer months, common summertime allergens can pose problems for many asthmatics.

Some people with asthma react poorly to heat and humidity. Summer weather also tends to coincide with poorer air quality. It is important to be especially mindful on ozone alert days.

Asthma triggers can make your child’s symptoms start to appear or possibly worsen into a full-blown asthma attack. Watch for these 10 common triggers.

  • Air pollution: You cannot control the quality of air in the area in which you live, but you can limit your child’s exposure to it. Stay indoors on hot days, especially in the afternoon and evenings when pollution in the air from smog is usually worse. Pay attention to changes in air quality. You can find air quality reports online or on local TV, radio stations or in newspapers.
  • Doctor, child, inhaler mask for breathing, hospitalDust mites: Where there is dust, there are dust mites. These creatures are so tiny that they cannot be seen but they live in sheets, pillowcases, carpeting and upholstered furniture. Keep your home as clean as possible and eliminate dust and clutter from your child’s bedroom whenever possible.
  • Heightened emotions: Extreme sadness, anger or excitement cannot be controlled, but you can teach your child to take deep calming breaths to help him or her relax when they are upset.
  • Exercise: Just because your child has asthma does not mean that they have to sit on the sidelines. Talk to your health care provider to plan an approach to appropriate physical activities for your child.
  • Foods: Allergies to certain foods such as nuts, shellfish or dairy products can make your child’s asthma worse.  If you suspect that your child has an undiagnosed food allergy, talk to your health care provider who may suggest seeing a specialist.
  • Infections: Cold, flu or other viral infections can be an asthma trigger for children. During cold and flu season make sure your child washes their hands and try to keep them away from infected individuals. Make sure they get a yearly flu shot and adequate sleep and exercise and that they eat well.
  • Pet dander: If your child’s asthma is triggered by pet dander, make sure to keep your pet out of your child’s bedroom at all times. You can also try giving your pet a bath weekly.  Do not allow your child to brush your pet which stirs up dander making it easier to breathe it in.
  • Secondhand smoke: It is very important that children with asthma stay away from cigarette smoke. If you or someone else in your household smokes, the best thing you can do is quit.  Make sure family activities take place in a smoke-free environment. Teach your child to move away from adults that light up near them.
  • Smells: Strong smells from things like perfume, cleaning products and hairspray can be asthma triggers. Look for natural cleaning products and avoid using scented candles and air fresheners in your home.
  • Changes in weather: Extremely cold windy days, hot humid days or any change in the weather can trigger your child’s asthma symptoms. Keep your child inside when possible if the weather is extremely hot or cold. A scarf to cover your child’s nose and mouth can help during the brutal winter months.

Remember to schedule regular asthma checkups with your child’s health care provider and don’t hesitate to seek emergency care when necessary. Pediatric appointments are available by calling 913-648-2266.

To schedule an appointment in Paola call 913-294-9223. For an appointment in Ottawa call 913-401-2750.

Protection Through Immunization

Emily Bush

Emily M. Bush, MD | Board Certified Physician in Pediatrics

Post written by Emily M. Bush, MD | Board Certified Physician in Pediatrics |Health Partnership Clinic

The recent measles outbreak in the Kansas City area is scary for many parents and providers. That is why providers at HPC believe children need to be protected with life-saving vaccines.

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is April 21-28. NIIW is observed annually to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your child’s first vaccines protect against seven childhood diseases that can be prevented:

  1. Diphtheria (the ‘D’ in DTaP vaccine)

Signs and symptoms include a thick coating in the back of the throat that can make it hard to breathe. Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, paralysis and heart failure.

*About 15,000 people died annually in the U.S. from diphtheria before there was a vaccine.

  1. Tetanus (the ‘T’ in DTaP vaccine; also known as Lockjaw)

Signs and symptoms include a painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. Tetanus can lead to stiffness of the jaw that can make it difficult to open the mouth or swallow.

*Tetanus kills about one person out of every 10 who get it.

  1. Pertussis (the ‘P’ in DTaP vaccine, also known as Whooping Cough)

Signs and symptoms include violent coughing spells that can make it hard for a baby to eat, drink or breathe. These spells can last several weeks. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, or death. Pertussis can be very dangerous in infants.

*Most pertussis deaths occur in babies younger than three months of age.

  1. Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b)

Signs and symptoms can include fever, headache, stiff neck, cough and shortness of breath. There might not be any signs or symptoms in mild cases. Hib can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); pneumonia; infections of the ears, sinuses, blood, joints, bones and covering of the heart; brain damage; severe swelling of the throat, making it hard to breathe; and deafness.

*Children younger than five years of age are at greatest risk for Hib disease.

  1. Dr. Bush-Immunization (Custom)Hepatitis B

Signs and symptoms include tiredness, diarrhea and vomiting, jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), and pain in muscles, joints and stomach.

But usually there are no signs or symptoms at all. Hepatitis B can lead to liver damage, and liver cancer.

Some people develop chronic (long-term) hepatitis B infection. These people might not look or feel sick, but they can infect others.

*Hepatitis B can cause liver damage and cancer in one child out of four who are chronically infected.

  1. Polio

Signs and symptoms include flu-like illness, or there may be no signs or symptoms at all. Polio can lead to permanent paralysis and death.

*In the 1950s, polio paralyzed more than 15,000 people every year in the U.S.

  1. Pneumococcal Disease

Signs and symptoms include fever, chills, cough and chest pain. In infants, symptoms can also include meningitis, seizures, and sometimes rash. Pneumococcal disease can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); infections of the ears, sinuses and blood; pneumonia; deafness and brain damage.

*About one out of 15 children who get pneumococcal meningitis will die from the infection.

Children usually catch these diseases from other children or adults, who might not even know they are infected. A mother infected with hepatitis B can infect her baby at birth. Tetanus enters the body through a cut or wound; it is not spread from person to person.

Other vaccines, including measles, mumps and rubella; varicella; rotavirus; influenza; and hepatitis A are also routinely recommended during the first five years of life.

According to the CDC, several important milestones have been reached in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases among infants worldwide. Vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases in the United States. In addition:

  • Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two.
  • In the 1950s, nearly every child developed measles, and unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. Today, many practicing physicians have never seen a case of measles.
  • Routine childhood immunization in one birth cohort prevents an estimated 381 million illnesses, 24.5 million hospitalizations, and 855,000 early deaths over the course of their lifetimes, at a net savings of $360 billion in direct costs and $1.65 trillion in total societal costs.
  • The National Immunization Survey has consistently shown that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record levels.

Children need immunizations at birth, two, four, six and 12-15 months, and one to two years of age to protect them against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases. Now is a great time to double check your children’s immunization records to make sure they are up to date. Make sure your children are protected!

Pediatric Medical and Dental Integrate for 90 Day Pilot Project

pilot project (2)To improve customer service, increase efficiencies and decrease billing issues, Health Partnership Clinic’s Pediatric Medical and Dental staff in Olathe are integrating for a 90-day pilot project.

According to Dayna Brinckman, DDS, Chief Dental Officer, the main objective is to bring together a talented and skilled group of individuals who are all moving toward the same goal.

“A huge part of this pilot is to focus on customer service and process improvement,” she says.

Pediatric patients are now able to schedule both a dental and medical appointment at the same time if warranted. The integrated services are offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, during regular clinic hours.

In addition, a dedicated pediatric medical/dental waiting room opened on March 5. Plans for signage are underway.

Patients seeking pediatric medical and dental care (including the Pediatric Walk-In Clinic) should enter through the East entrance doors; adult patients should enter through the West doors as they’ve done in the past.

The pilot project includes a realignment of staff duties so you may notice some new faces. The provider team includes Dayna Brinckman, DDS; Emily Bush, MD; Kare Lyche, MD; Nader Rastgoftar, DDS; Anne VanGarsse, MD; and Liz Vasquez, MPAS, PA-C.

“With this new model, our hope is to improve our patients’ experiences with great customer service and streamlined access to our services as well as to promote our pediatrics and dental services,” Dr. Brinckman adds. The clinic plans to survey pediatric patients and their parents regarding the new changes.