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Learning the Early Signs and Symptoms of Asthma

Are you concerned that your child may have asthma? Treating asthma symptoms as early as possible is important to help your child breathe better. Many parents are concerned about their children and visit Family Health Care to get answers. It’s important for parents to be aware of the early signs and symptoms of childhood asthma because this is a condition that has the potential to be life-threatening. The bright side is that this condition is treatable  and the right medications are administered. If you believe your child might have asthma, continue reading to learn more about the earliest warning signs.

Child Holding an Inhaler

Common Asthma Symptoms

The symptoms of this respiratory disease vary from person to person. Some children experience severe symptoms that interfere with their ability to play and participate in sports or other strenuous activities. Other children have milder symptoms and may not have many serious incidents. The symptoms listed below can vary in intensity from child to child:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain or tightening
  • Coughing, especially at night

Early Warning Signs of an Asthma Attack

While it’s important to get your child seen by a primary care provider, it’s just as important to know how to spot the signs of an asthma attack if your child is diagnosed as asthmatic. Parents who spot the early warning signs can help their child better through the episode and provide the necessary support to help them manage the symptoms and not feel frightened . When you can’t breathe, it’s scary, especially for young children.

If your child has been diagnosed with asthma

stay alert for the following signs that an asthma attack may be imminent:

  • Feeling tired or weak following exercise
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increased coughing and wheezing
  • Shortness of breath or losing breath easily
  • Exhibiting symptoms of an upper respiratory illness such as having a headache, sneezing, feeling congested or having a sore throat

These are general signs of an asthma attack and the subsequent episode could be minor or quite severe. As asthma symptoms worsen, your child may have trouble performing routine daily activities like walking up stairs or walking to the car without feeling out of breath. If your child experiences any of the following symptoms, consult with  your primary care provider  as soon as possible:

  • A cough that refuses to go away
  • Increased wheezing
  • Increased shortness of breath
  • Increased coughing
  • Quick-relief medications such as your child’s rescue  inhaler that  doesn’t  relieve the symptoms

When asthma symptoms continue to worsen, it’s not unusual for children to feel anxious, find it difficult to talk, and have a pale, sweaty face.

Work Closely with Your Child’s Primary Care Provider

Childhood asthma is a serious condition, but it’s treatable. In fact, when parents work closely with their child’s primary care provider  to develop a plan, it makes it easier to anticipate and handle a serious asthma attack when it happens.

Child and Parent Meeting with Pediatrician

Do you have a child whom you think has the early signs and symptoms of asthma? Contact Family Health Care for affordable family health care.

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Celebrating Minority Health Month!

As an immigrant, one initially experiences multiple barriers: language differences, cultural shock, limited career path, and sometimes, most importantly, is access to health care.

Over a hundred years ago, Dr. Booker T. Washington proposed the idea of observing a week in April to focus on minority health. When Dr. Washington started this idea in 1915, the call was for schools, health departments and businesses of influential organizations to promote health care equality to close the gap of disparity among the African- American population. 

Since then, various other race and ethnic groups have experienced their own difficulties, disparities, and inequalities. Based on Modern Medicine Network statistics, Hispanic populations suffer a greater risk of cervical cancer, a higher chance of diabetes and obesity, and more frequent hospitalizations from asthma, even for little children. South Pacific Islanders have an increase in occurrences of breast, gastric, ovarian, and lung cancers, leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. African American populations have higher incidences of hypertension, obesity and cardiovascular disease, all of which seemed to be tied together since one is a risk factor to another.

Again, these disparities of higher incidents of diseases in specific populations seem to have a common thread: a lack of preventative health care. As said before, limited access to health care appears to be the main driving-force creating the disparity between different groups of populations. Fixing the system of limited health care for some seems like a goal that cannot be won. That may be true in some sense. We may not be able to solve the larger disparity, but we can change our own personal situations and families first. This starts the ripple effect of improving our community and beyond.

In honor of continuing the desire of Dr. Washington and in promoting the health of minority ethnic groups, the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed this year to improve our health by increasing physical activities.

Obesity, cardiovascular disease and even cancer seem to all have a common prevention – Let’s Get Moving!

Not the kind of moving where we move out of this changing Michigan weather, but increasing our physical activities. There are many barriers to improving our physical activities such as working long hours at a job causing fatigue, depression causing a lack of motivation, chronic illness or joint pain causing a fear of pain to move. Of course, weather plays a huge factor by giving us an unfriendly winter when even something as simple as walking becomes difficult and unpleasant.

However, unless it seems like an impossible battle to fight, it wouldn’t be called fighting at all. So, let’s fight. Let’s fight for our health and our bodies. Let’s fight for our ethnicity and culture.  Dr. Washington spoke of his people and all people: “Without health and long life, all else fails.”

So, let’s start moving just a little more than before, whether it is merely parking further away when shopping so that you have to walk a bit longer, taking the stairs instead of elevators, or going on a walk around the yard with your kids. It starts small, but it has the potential to grow big if we fight for it.

Studies reported in the Journal of American Physician Assistant show that even just 150 minutes of exercise a week can reduce mortality and morbidities especially after someone has gone through cancer. That means a person who has experienced cancer, and now exercises, will be less likely to have the cancer return.

That is only 30 minutes of exercise five times per week. 30 minutes can go by very fast especially if you are having fun with your exercise buddy. This can be another opportunity to develop deeper friendships or get to know your neighbors better. Meanwhile, if you have any questions, your health care providers will be more than happy to discuss your own tailored regime of exercise and physical activities that would benefit you. It is a dream for a health care provider to hear, “I want to fight for my health with physical activity.”

As an immigrant myself who has known the hardships of health care; I can honestly say that is my dream. My name is Soomin Han and I am a Physician Assistant practicing family/internal medicine at Family Health Care. My goal is to have my patients and my community know that I care and I am their biggest cheerleader in fighting for their health.

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A Child With Autism, Not An Autistic Child

“My child has what?” I have to admit, as a medical provider, I feel I should have known more about autism. My child was 18 months old, wasn’t talking, and wouldn’t turn her head to look at me if I yelled her name from only a few feet away. After ruling out a hearing issue, her pediatrician referred her for further evaluation at a children’s hospital downstate. She was evaluated by a speech therapist, a behaviorist and a child psychologist, all in one day. Their conclusion: autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.

Jon Borton, PA-C, and family

As a medical provider, it made sense. However, as a parent, I didn’t want to admit that my child was anything but perfect. That quickly changed. I had taken care of a few patients with diagnosed autism, but my daughter didn’t have some of the same characteristics that these patients had. I went from knowing what autism was and how it was generally diagnosed to resident expert (in my mind) in a very short period of time. Then an interesting thing happened. My son, who is 18 months older than my daughter, started talking at an expected age. He never had any signs of hearing issues and would turn his head to look in my direction if I called his name.  However, he lacked eye contact, was socially awkward compared to peers, and required strict adherence to patterns. Something just wasn’t “normal,” whatever that is. I initially thought, he only has an attention problem (which he does). After learning as much as I could about ASD, I started to strongly suspect that he had the condition as well. My son eventually went through the same testing and was given the same diagnosis.

The description of what my family went through over two years is used to highlight a couple of things. One is that every child is an individual and should be treated as such. A given condition, especially those in mental health, can present with a wide range of symptoms. Second, and just as important, is to hopefully increase awareness of autism in the general public. Since my ASD journey began, I have played a part in diagnosing several children and adolescents with the condition. I don’t know if it was “meant to be”, but that argument has often been hard to refute.

Autism spectrum disorder has become the fastest growing developmental disorder in the United States. In 2000, the CDC estimated that 1 in 150 children had autism. The most recent statistics estimate that number to be between 1 in 40 and 1 in 59 children. The increase in the prevalence of autism has been mostly attributed to improvements in screening and diagnosis of the disorder. It affects all racial and ethnic backgrounds and is about four times more likely to occur in boys than in girls

As one might imagine, there are several signs and symptoms of autism. When a child is first seen by a primary care provider, we start to look for signs of developmental or communication challenges. We observe how your child laughs, looks to you for reassurance, tries to regain your attention during a conversation, points or waves, responds to his or her name, or cries. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening for autism at the 18 and 24 month well child visits. This is most commonly done using the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, or M-CHAT. A positive screen can indicate the need for further evaluation. It is important to note that a normal screen does not rule out the diagnosis of autism or other developmental disorders. There is an online form of this that can be accessed by anyone at www.m-chat.org.

The treatment of ASD requires a comprehensive approach. Because individuals with ASD have varying degrees of impairment in social and behavioral function, management needs to be tailored to the child’s age and specific needs. The goals are to maximize functioning, move the child toward independence, and improve quality of life. There is increasing evidence that intervention is most effective when initiated as early as possible. A notable treatment approach for those with ASD is applied behavior analysis (ABA), which encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative behaviors to improve a variety of skills. Speech therapy and occupational therapy are often used to target specific deficits as well. While no medication specifically treats autism, medications can be used to treat common coexisting conditions/symptoms, such as hyperactivity, inattention, aggression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, depressive symptoms, and sleep dysfunction. To any parent who has concerns about possible developmental issues, autism, etc. with your child, the best advice I can give is this: Be an advocate for your child. Your concerns should be heard and addressed. Make an appointment with your child’s primary care provider and have an assessment done. Again, the earlier a diagnosis is made, the earlier treatment may be able to be started. I was lucky enough to be able to do so for my children at an earlier than average age. Since beginning to understand the things that they struggle with, it has made every milestone that much more significant. I like to say that my children are not just autistic. They are so much more, with their own strengths and weaknesses. They are children who happen to have autism. They are my world.

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Common Medical Problems That Flare Up in Springtime

Spring often means warmer temperatures and a return to outdoor living. It’s also the time of year when illnesses start to wreak havoc on your outdoor plans so make sure you stay healthy and strong with the help of your Family Health Care Primary care provider.

Allergies

Seasonal Allergies

The very thing that many people look forward to in the springtime is the same thing that causes them so much grief. Warmer weather means flowers, shrubs, and trees bloom, filling the air with fresh scents and pollen—Yes, the dreaded pollen that causes so people so much trouble. Since seasonal allergies aren’t exactly rare, it’s not unusual for several members of the family to be affected. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, visit clinics that offer family health care for allergy medications and other treatments to make it easier to breathe when the trees bloom.

Asthma

Spring is hard for asthma sufferers because of the changes in the air temperature and outdoor chemicals. When spring rolls around, many people use yard fertilizers, bug sprays, and other chemicals that aggravate asthma symptoms in adults and children. If your child is having problems with their asthma or using their inhaler more than twice a week, tell the doctor about this during your well child visits at Family Health Care.

Colds

Do you think of the common cold as being a wintertime problem? You’re not alone. Many people are surprised when they get sick in the spring. Did you know that spring and fall are primetime for infections, especially rhinovirus, which is responsible for 50% of all regular colds? The good news is that by following simple prevention strategies, including washing your hands, you have a good chance of staying healthy this spring.

Ticks

Lyme Disease

As soon as the weather warms up, the ticks are out and about too. It’s not unusual for families to venture out on a hike on the first warm day and end up bringing ticks home. Deer ticks transmit Lyme Disease. These ticks are found in tall grasses and other vegetation. Health professionals urge their patients to be vigilant and check for ticks after being outdoors. Look for telltale signs, such as rashes on the body and fever. If you find a tick, use fine-tip tweezers to pull it from the skin, making sure that the head is intact. If you weren’t able to get the head, visit a full-service family health care center for treatment to remove the head.

Sport Injuries

Another medical problem that flares up in the spring is sports injuries. Soccer, baseball, softball, lacrosse, and any other sport you can think of kicks off when the weather gets warmer. That means health care centers see an influx of patients with varying degree of sports injuries. Doctors suggest that their patients, young, old, and in between, stay active year-round to make sure their bodies are conditioned for intense sport sessions when the weather warms up. Even if you’re just playing recreational sports on an after-school or work team, this is good advice to take.

Don’t let the warmer weather trick you into ignoring signs from your body that something’s wrong. If you’re sick or injured and need affordable family health care stop by Family Health Care today.

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A Guide on Newborn Vaccinations for First-Time Parents

Baby getting a shot

While vaccines are a hot-button topic these days, science has proven that they’re more effective than ever at fighting serious diseases, such as polio, meningitis, and the flu. If you’re confused about childhood vaccinations in West Michigan and when to get them, keep reading for an easy breakdown for first-time parents.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a virus that causes irreversible damage and chronic infection to the liver. The vaccination is given in three doses, the first being right after childbirth. Mothers who are positive for hepatitis B can pass the virus on to their children during natural delivery. The second and third doses are given at 1 month old and 6 six months old, respectively. Immunization is usually good for up to 20 years.

Hepatitis A

While hepatitis A is more common in adults, immunizations at an early age reduce the chances of developing hepatitis A later in life. The vaccine is usually administered between 1 to 2 years old with a follow-up vaccination 6 months later.

Rotavirus

The rotavirus has two forms, thus, there are two vaccines to treat both varieties. The vaccine for the first rotavirus is given at 2 and 4 months old while the second rotavirus vaccine is given at 2, 4, and 6 months old. Both viruses cause vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration but the vaccine prevents 85% of cases in the first year.

DTaP

DTaP is the combination vaccine that protects infants against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. DTaP doses are given five times: at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 months, and 18 months. Booster shots of DTaP are administered at 4 and 6 years of age. Immunization is good for approximately 10 years.

Vaccinations and needle

Polio

Polio is a paralyzing virus eradicated in the 1950s thanks to widespread vaccination. Doses are given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. Booster shots to maintain immunity levels are given to children between 4 and 6 before they’re admitted to school.

MMRV

The MMRV vaccine will immunize your child against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chicken pox). These four diseases and their long term complications are not seen as often because of widespread immunization. MMRV vaccines are given between 12 to 15 months and again around 4 years of age before children start school.

Influenza

Newborns are usually not immunized against the flu because the mother is usually vaccinated during pregnancy. Doctors suggest waiting until their 6-month checkup before getting this vaccination, except in cases of widespread outbreak. Children and adults should get their flu shot every year as every year several children and adults die from flu or its complications.

PCV

Short for pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, PCV protects against 13 of the most common and severe strains of pneumococcal bacteria which cause pneumonia and ear infections. There are four doses of PCV given at 2, 4, and 6 months old with the final immunization administered at 12 months old. As bacteria adapt and become resistant to modern antibiotics, the PCV vaccine is more important than ever.

Meningitis

Haemophilus influenzae type b bacteria are responsible for the development of meningitis, an infection of the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Immunizations are administered at 2 and 4 months of age. A third dose is given at 6 months old depending on the brand of the vaccine and the health of the child. The final booster is given around 12 months, and immunizations last for several years.

For childhood vaccinations and pediatric services schedule an appointment today with a primary care provider at Family Health Care.

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