Smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your health. And if you’re a parent, it’s one of the worst things you can do to your child’s health. Cigarettes are deadly, and there’s no better time than right now to quit smoking. Quitting will help your child get his or her asthma symptoms under control, and it will benefit your own health as well.
How Cigarettes Harm Your Child
Even if your child never tries a cigarette, he or she is susceptible to health risks from secondhand and thirdhand smoke. Exposure to tobacco smoke and residue is linked to more frequent and severe asthma attacks. It can be more difficult for your child to control asthma symptoms, and your child may not respond as well to medications. Not only is tobacco a trigger of asthma attacks, but exposure to smoke is also linked to the development of asthma. Babies of smokers are more likely to be diagnosed with asthma in childhood.
Why It’s Impossible to “Control” Cigarette Smoke
Some smokers may think that they can adequately protect their kids by only smoking outdoors. But unfortunately, it’s impossible to control where cigarette smoke goes. When you open the door to go back inside, the smoke will follow you. It will get in through windows and drafty areas. There is also a danger of thirdhand smoke, which is the residue left on objects from tobacco smoke. This residue is found on smokers’ clothes, furniture, car upholstery, and anything else exposed to cigarette smoke. Thirdhand residue can be just as dangerous for a person’s health as secondhand smoke.
How You Can Overcome Nicotine Addiction
Quitting cigarettes is never easy, but it will be one of the most important and rewarding things you can do for your family. Start by talking to your doctor to find out about your medical treatment options. Try as many different cessation methods as it takes to finally quit. And never give up—most smokers require multiple attempts to quit for good.
The board-certified allergists and asthma doctors at Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM can help you and your child understand the asthma treatment options. We provide compassionate care and patient education for individuals of all ages. Call 1(800)86-COUGH to speak with a friendly staff member at our locations in Blue Bell, Center City, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
SLIT is an acronym for sublingual immunotherapy. It’s one of the treatment options that your allergy doctor may recommend if you have certain allergies. SLIT introduces very tiny amounts of an allergen to your body. Over time, it can reduce allergic reactions to the substance. SLIT should only be performed by a qualified medical provider. If you have allergies, do not intentionally expose yourself to your allergen, as there may be a risk of a life-threatening reaction.
Which allergens can SLIT address?
Currently, sublingual immunotherapy has limited approved uses. Allergy doctors can administer SLIT for patients with peanut allergies. This treatment is also approved for patients with allergies to dust mites, grass, ragweed, tree pollen, and cat dander.
Is food SLIT a cure for my peanut allergy?
No, SLIT isn’t a cure. You’ll still be allergic to peanuts, and you’ll still need to avoid all exposure to them. The purpose of undergoing sublingual immunotherapy is to build enough of a tolerance to the allergen to prevent a life-threatening reaction from accidental exposure. You should still carry your emergency autoinjector of epinephrine with you everywhere you go.
Is food SLIT safe?
Generally, sublingual immunotherapy is well-tolerated. However, as with any medical treatment, there is a risk of side effects. You should speak with your allergy specialist about these side effects before deciding if you’d like to try it. You may experience an allergic reaction to the peanut allergy drops. In clinical trials, most of the reactions were mild and required only oral treatment.
How is food SLIT done?
It’s a very simple treatment that requires no shots or pills. Your allergy doctor will place a small amount of peanut extract under your tongue. You’ll hold it there for two minutes, and then swallow it. The doctor will monitor you for signs of an allergic reaction. Over time, you’ll take progressively higher concentrations of the food extract to increase your tolerance.
Food sublingual immunotherapy is one of the allergy treatment options we offer here at Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM. To find out whether you’re a good candidate for this allergy treatment, you can give us a call at 1(800)86-COUGH. You can meet with a board-certified allergy doctor in Blue Bell, Center City, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, your asthma doctor will give you all of the information you need to manage your condition properly. Monitoring peak flow is one of the ways you can take care of yourself. Peak flow is a measurement of how well you can exhale air out of your lungs. A high peak flow score is ideal. A low peak flow score could mean that you may experience an asthma attack soon.
Your asthma specialist can show you how to use a peak flow meter. You should check your peak flow every morning, before you take your asthma medications. You should also check it when you experience symptoms, after using rescue medications, and at any other time your provider instructs you to. Write down each score on a chart, and take it to each appointment with your asthma specialist.
At Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM, our board-certified allergists and immunologists emphasize the importance of patient education and proactive self-care. Call 1(800)86-COUGH to request an appointment regarding asthma treatments in Blue Bell, Center City, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
Exercise-induced asthma can cause the same symptoms as other types of asthma, such as tightness in the chest, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In people with exercise-induced asthma, these symptoms typically occur shortly after stopping a workout. An asthma treatment plan can help students stay active in school sports and gym class, despite the condition.
Asthma doctors may recommend wearing a scarf or mask over the mouth when exercising outdoors in chilly weather. Students may need to exercise indoors if the school grounds have been mowed recently. The asthma doctor can prescribe a long-acting asthma medication for long-term control, as well as a rescue inhaler for acute asthma attacks. All coaches and teachers should be notified of the student’s asthma treatment plan, including the need to have a rescue inhaler nearby during exercise.
If your child suffers from asthma symptoms, you can find the help he or she needs at Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM. Our asthma treatment centers are located in center city Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Call 1(800)86-COUGH.
Dust mites are microscopic insects that live in warm, humid environments. In some people, dust mites trigger an allergic reaction. In the average home, dust mites are found in carpets, bedding, upholstered furniture, and stuffed animals. It may be impossible to get rid of dust mites permanently, but an allergy doctor can help you learn how to minimize their presence to manage your symptoms.
Watch the accompanying video to learn more about dust mites and environmental control measures. The allergist featured here recommends washing all bedding frequently in hot water, vacuuming often, and reducing the humidity level of your home.
A board-certified allergist can help you control your dust mite allergy. Call 1(800)86-COUGH to request an appointment at Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM in center city Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
Nebulizers are small devices that allow patients with lung diseases to breathe in medications. The nebulizer transforms the liquid medicine into an inhalable mist. If your asthma treatment plan includes the use of a nebulizer, your doctor will help you learn how to use the device properly.
Get to know your nebulizer.
Nebulizers are straightforward to use, but it’s helpful if you’re familiar with the basic components of the system. The primary component is the machine itself, which provides the power that turns the liquid medicine into mist. It’s also called an air compressor. A hose connects the machine to the medicine cup, which is connected on its other end to the mouthpiece. Note that some patients, such as young children, who have trouble using the mouthpiece may use a face mask instead.
Prepare the nebulizer.
Before using your nebulizer equipment, scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and running water. You don’t want to introduce germs to the equipment that you might then breathe into your lungs. Then, connect one end of the hose to the machine. Add the prescribed amount of liquid medicine to the medicine cup. Close the cup tightly. From this point onward, hold the medicine cup upright to prevent spills. Next, connect the hose to the medicine cup, and connect the medicine cup to the mouthpiece.
Inhale your medication.
Put the mouthpiece into your mouth and turn on the machine. Make a firm seal with your lips to prevent any of the aerosol medicine from escaping. You’ll need the full dosage to properly manage your asthma. Now, all you need to do is take slow, deep, steady breaths through your mouth. It may take about 10 to 15 minutes to get the full dosage. Some patients have trouble remembering to inhale through the mouth the entire time. If you experience this, consider using a nose clip to prevent nasal inhalation.
Get the nebulizer ready for your next treatment.
Once you’ve received the full dosage, turn off the machine. Wash the medicine cup and the mouthpiece. Place these items on a clean towel and let them air dry until your next dosage.
If you have any questions or concerns about your asthma treatment, you can count on the doctors at Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM. You’ll find our offices in center city Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Call 1(800)86-COUGH to request an appointment with an asthma and allergy specialist.
Allergy doctors most commonly diagnose peanut allergies and other food allergies in children. However, a food allergy can develop at any age—even after eating the food for years without problems. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for food allergies, but it is manageable with strict avoidance of the allergen and treatments prescribed by the allergist.
Signs of Food Allergies
An allergic reaction to a food may be relatively mild, such as the appearance of hives, or it may be severe enough to be life-threatening. Even if you’ve previously experienced only mild allergic reactions, you could still potentially suffer from life-threatening symptoms. Some of the indications of a food allergy can include:
- Tight throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Vomiting and stomach cramps
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Swollen tongue
- Weak pulse
- Repetitive cough
- Shortness of breath
Risks of Food Allergies
Children who grow up with food allergies learn how to cope with them at an early age. But for newly diagnosed adults, the learning curve can be steep, and making a mistake can lead to serious consequences. While eating out at restaurants or at friends’ homes, for example, it’s more difficult to know if allergens are present in the food. Another risk of food allergies is the potential for cross-reactivity. This occurs when a person experiences a reaction to a food that is similar to the food allergen. For example, patients who are allergic to shrimp may also experience reactions to crab.
Strategies for Coping with Food Allergies
Learning how to manage food allergies as an adult can be tricky, but you can cope more easily if you partner with a board-certified allergy doctor. Allergists specialize in the management of food allergies and related conditions. Your doctor will design a personalized treatment plan for you, which will include an epinephrine autoinjector. You’ll need to keep the autoinjector with you at all times, just in case you experience a life-threatening reaction. The doctor will also help you learn how to avoid exposure to your allergen by reading food labels, preventing cross-contamination, and communicating carefully with restaurant staff.
Patients of all ages can find the specialized medical care they need at Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM. Our board-certified allergists are available to assist patients in center city Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania. New and current patients can reach us at 1(800)86-COUGH.
Your asthma treatment plan might include the use of a dry powder inhaler. The other type of inhaler, a metered dose inhaler, works by propelling medication into the lungs. Dry powder inhalers are different. They rely on the patient taking a deep, fast breath in order to inhale the medication into the lungs. Your asthma specialist will help you learn how to use the device.
The specific instructions vary between brands. In general, however, you’ll need to adjust the device to load a dose of the medication. Then, turn your head to the side and exhale as much air out of your lungs as you can. Insert the mouthpiece into your mouth and take a very deep, strong, and steady breath to completely fill your lungs. Hold your breath for no longer than 10 seconds. Then, remove the mouthpiece and exhale steadily and slowly. If the delivered medication is a corticosteroid, your asthma doctor may instruct you to gargle with water after taking a dose. Spit out the water—do not swallow it.
If you have any questions about your asthma treatment, you can call 1(800)86-COUGH to reach your doctor at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM. Our asthma doctors are available in Blue Bell, Center City, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
A primary immunodeficiency disease (PIDD) is a genetic problem that causes part of the immune system to malfunction. Alternatively, part of the immune system may be absent. Primary immunodeficiency diseases can range from mild to severe. Allergists typically diagnose severe PIDDs when the patient is quite young, but mild PIDDs may not be diagnosed until later in life as the health effects become more apparent.
Types of PIDDs
PIDDs can occur when there is a mutation in the genetic code. There are more than 300 types of PIDDs. Allergy specialists have categorized them into six main groups.
- B cell (antibody) deficiencies
- T cell deficiencies
- B and T cell combination deficiencies
- Complement deficiencies
- Defective phagocytes
- Idiopathic (unknown PIDD)
B and T cells, also called lymphocytes, are adaptive immune cells that fight off invading organisms in the body. Phagocytes are another specialized cell of the immune system. It engulfs and absorbs small cells like bacteria.
Signs of PIDDs
The defining characteristic of primary immunodeficiency diseases is having a higher susceptibility to infections. People with PIDDs may get infections more frequently, have a harder time fighting them off, and suffer from them for a longer period of time. Some people with PIDDs experience the following health issues:
- Eight or more new ear infections within one year.
- Two or more serious sinus infections within one year
- Two or more months of antibiotics resulting in marginal improvement
- Two or more bouts of pneumonia within one year
- Recurrent, deep skin or organ abscesses
- Failure of an infant to gain weight or grow normally
- Persistent thrush in mouth or elsewhere on skin after age one
Additionally, patients with PIDDs are more susceptible to these infections:
- Sinus infections
- Skin infections
- Ear infections
Treatments for PIDDs
Each treatment plan for a PIDD is personalized to meet the needs of the individual patient. The main goals for treatment include:
- Improving the function of the immune system
- Preventing and treating infections
- Treating the underlying cause, if any
An allergist might recommend these therapies for PIDDs:
- Immunoglobulin therapy: The introduction of antibody proteins through IV or subcutaneous infusion.
- Interferon-gamma therapy: An injected therapy that stimulates the immune system. Appropriate for patients with chronic granulomatous disease.
- Growth factors: A treatment that increases the amount of white blood cells.
If you or your child has been diagnosed with a primary immunodeficiency disease, you can find the supportive care you need at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM. Our allergists are available in multiple locations in Pennsylvania, including Blue Bell, Center City, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania. New and current patients can reach our office at 1(800)86-COUGH.
Your primary care doctor may refer you to an allergist if he or she suspects that you might have asthma. Some of the possible signs of asthma include chest tightness, shortness of breath, and wheezing. The allergist will perform an asthma screening, which will include one or more simple tests. An asthma screening may also be appropriate for previously diagnosed patients. In this case, the screening is done to assess how well the asthma is controlled.
Like other medical appointments, your asthma screening will begin with a review of your medical history. It’s helpful to bring a list of your prescribed and over-the-counter medications and supplements. You’ll also need to disclose any medical conditions you’ve already been diagnosed with. Then, you’ll be asked about your symptoms. Some of the questions you might be asked include:
- What are your symptoms?
- When do you experience symptoms?
- Does anything seem to trigger your symptoms?
- Do you have frequent exposure to chemical irritants, airborne particles, or tobacco smoke?
- Do you have allergies?
After you answer questions about your health history and symptoms, you’ll take one or more breathing tests. These tests may include:
- Peak flow: Measures how hard you can exhale.
- Spirometry: Measures how much air you can exhale and how fast you can exhale. This test evaluates the narrowing of the bronchial tubes.
You may be asked to take a medication after doing lung function tests. A class of medications called bronchodilators work to open the airway. Then, you may be asked to take the lung function tests again. If your results improve, this could indicate that you have asthma.
If your screening reveals that you do have asthma, the doctor will begin planning your asthma treatment. You should take the opportunity to ask any questions you might have about the condition, your triggers, and your lifestyle. The doctor will make sure you fully understand your treatment recommendations before you leave the appointment.
You can schedule your asthma screening at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM. Our team of asthma specialists serves patients in Blue Bell, Center City, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania. You can get in touch at 1(800)86-COUGH.