5 Tips to Plan Ahead for Medical Care for Allergies and Asthma
Find an allergist you trust. If you don’t have a specialist, find one. While primary physicians (internists, pediatricians, family physicians) are very good, they cannot be experts in every area of medicine, including allergy and asthma care. A board-certified allergist has completed extensive fellowship training specifically in the nuances of diagnosing and treating asthma and allergic disorders. The medications available are always changing, and risks and benefits constantly being re-evaluated and updated. It’s important to have a specialist who knows you AND your medical history.
Don’t wait until you are sick. The most effective treatment for allergies occurs when the specific allergic trigger is identified and avoided (if possible). Prevention is the best medication! If you were “sick” with asthma or allergies before, don’t wait for the next attack or the next season to seek help. Both allergies and asthma are chronic conditions and unlikely to just “go away” with time.
Know your early warning signs and have a plan: Most asthma attacks can be minimized by early recognition and early appropriate treatment. If you wait until you are wheezing and coughing, it’s too late! Having a written Asthma Action Plan can guide you in medication decisions. If you don’t have a plan, ask for one!
Traveling out of town? Research your options. It can be anxiety producing to have an allergic reaction or asthma attack when you’re away from home. While an urgent care clinic or ER is close by in virtually every town, check online for allergists. The average cost of an ER visit for asthma in Montana is $900, and hospitalization for asthma is over $8,000 (3 days in hospital). At Family Allergy & Asthma Care of Montana, we have same day appointments and extended evening hours to accommodate visitors to Southwestern Montana as well as our area residents. An initial visit with Dr. Zacharisen is only $90.
Remember your medications. While packing your medications, check for expiration dates on inhalers and self-injectable epinephrine devices. Be certain you have enough medication for the time you plan to be traveling. The newer asthma inhalers have “dose counters” to let you know exactly how much medication is left. While there are plenty of 24-hour pharmacies in most locations, when you need a quick-relief inhaler or self-injectable epinephrine, you need it NOW. Don’t be traveling without these life-saving medications!
This information is solely for informational purposes and not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional.