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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New tablet for dust mite allergies?

(Shutterstock image)

My friend sent me an article about a new medicine that is going through drug trials right now. It's for dust mite allergies. If you want a little "light reading" (ha ha) you can read more about it from The Journal of the American Medical Association

Remember the Good Ol' Days when your kids had to have allergy shots for 3-5 years?! Now you may be able to skip shots and take a pill instead. YAY!! As the mother of 3, all of whom have allergies and asthma, it was awful to have to take my kids to allergy shots. 

Of course, none of my kids were on the same schedule. One wouldn't be doing shots, one would be doing shots once every other week. One would be having shots twice a week. So, for a 10 year period, we would go back and forth to the Asthma Doc's office. It got REALLY old. REALLY fast. 

The kids were young, so I would have to drag all 3 kids with me (whether they were getting shots or not.) And would also have to plan around school, soccer, swim lessons, dance, etc..

 But many people (like my kids) are allergic to a LOT of different things. So, pills for one allergen may never replace allergy shots. 

But, if you are just allergic to grass, or dust mites. This might work for you.

There are several pills already on the market for certain allergens.

Oralair was the first pill that came out for grass allergies. 

Grastek has also been approved for grass allergies.

Ragwitek has been approved for those allergic to Ragweed.   

Seriously....who comes up with these names??

I'm not sure when the new pill for dust mites will be approved by the FDA. (Or what wacky name they might give it.....)

You can read more about the study in this NPR article.   

Until then, pass the box of tissues!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Doctors visit over the phone

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This is how it looks when we see the doctor. 

But did you know that you can "see" your doctor without leaving your home? Wait.....what?

 You don't have to drive to their office - you can see and talk to them through a smart phone or ipad! (It's like Facetime - where you see and talk to the other person). There are many private companies and even hospital systems that are getting on board now.

I learned about Doctor on Demand while at an asthma conference sponsored by Allergy & Asthma Network last fall.

One of the doctors showed us how it works. You can watch a short video that shows how it works on the website for Doctor on Demand. 

What a smart idea! Since then, I have seen 2 of our hospitals here advertising the same thing. There are times when I am so sick, I can't drive myself to the doctor (and no one else is home to drive me.) It would have been a nice idea when I had my concussion and I had to drive myself to the doctor! Or when I had a migraine and REALLY needed some anti nausea medicine.

Here's another example from a hospital I found called MountainStar

And it looks like most visits don't cost much more than a typical co-pay. One advertised $49 per visit. I know several people who have REALLY high deductibles on their insurance ($3,000 per family.) So, it is less expensive for them to pay the $49 than it would for a $125 office visit.

I think it's a great idea if you have something simple to treat like strep throat or pink eye. But what if you end up in a small local hospital and you are VERY sick and need a specialist?  Did you know that many doctors across the country (including Intermountain Healthcare ) are working with small hospitals to offer their help via computer? 

They can listen to a patient's lungs with a digital stethoscope. A nurse in the smaller hospital uses the digital stethoscope on the patient, and the specialist hundreds of miles away can use audio and video hardware to hear the lungs!  

They can also watch an EKG to see if someone is having heart problems, or the EEG to check a patient's brain waves. They can see all of the machines that the patient is hooked up to and help the local doctors who don't specialize in a certain disease.

Seriously....I can't keep up with technology! I am feeling really smart when I can Facetime my daughter when I am traveling for work. Even if it took me a while to figure out how it worked...

Check around and see what is available in your area. Maybe your doctor offers virtual visits when you are too busy or too sick to drive to the doctor's office. And they even call in the prescription for you too!

And kudos to the specialist who back up the small town doctors who need a little extra help!

What will they think of next?



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Confused about inhalers?

I just listened to a helpful and VERY funny webinar from AAN - Allergy & Asthma Network. If you haven't heard of them, you are missing out on a great resource! AAN is a national organization that helps families with allergies and asthma. They also lobby congress for laws to help us (make sure kids can carry asthma inhalers and epi pens in school at all times, have schools have a "stock" inhaler that can treat anyone in the school with asthma, etc, etc.)

Randall Brown, MD, AE-C, of the Center for Managing Chronic Disease, University of Michigan - See more at:
Randall Brown, MD, AE-C, of the Center for Managing Chronic Disease, University of Michigan - See more at:
Dr. Randall Brown, AE-C, of the center for Managing Chronic Disease, University of Michigan gave this presentation. It's called "Inhaler Hysteria or Inhaler Confusion."

It's a free webinar, just click here to access it. 

 He talks about asthma, and how everyone is different. Some people are more sensitive than others.
"Some people can be trigger by someone smoking one block away. Where others may smoke 4 packs a day and not be triggered."
He had me laughing during his presentation.  I tried to capture my favorite quote (it may not be word for word....)
"Whenever I do anything aerobic in an old building on campus, because of the dust and because of the mold and the exercise, I cough and I wheeze. But I can be in my office here with 200 cats - all of whom smoke, and not have one problem."
Bahahaha! He was trying to get the point across that all asthma is not created equal. We all have different triggers and react differently. 

He also talks about how some people have "Fire extinguisher use" with their inhaler. They will use their rescue inhaler over and over again for their asthma. But if you were having fires in your house over and over again, you MIGHT want to find out where the problem is coming from.

To compare that to asthma, if you are using just relying on your rescue inhaler to "put out fires", you need to figure out where those "fires" or asthma flare ups are coming from. The Guidelines for Diagnosis and Management of Asthma say that if you NEED to use your rescue inhaler more than twice a week, your asthma in not controlled, and they suggest starting a daily, controller (or maintenance) inhaler. 

There is a lot more great info in the webinar, watch it yourself and let me know what you think!