The Importance of Planned-Care Visits for Asthma

| Posted On Dec 15, 2011 | By:

Whether your child’s asthma is in good control or poor control makes a tremendous difference on your family’s quality of life and on your child’s overall health. 

Although infrequent, asthma can be a killer.  People who have died from asthma often did not have regular check-ups to deal with their asthma or did not remove asthma triggers from their homes.  

Scheduling planned-care asthma visits, which are regular check-ups with your child’s doctor, can help to decrease the odds of having any of the poor outcomes listed above, because the reality is that, over time, asthma control may vary.  Sometimes it’s poor.  Sometimes it’s not bad but it’s also not very good. Other times it’s great.  Many things can lead to these changes. 

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommends yearly visits for intermittent asthma, six-month visits for mild persistent asthma, four-month visits for moderate persistent asthma, and three-month visits for severe persistent asthma.  (However, when loss of asthma control lasts for more than a few weeks, or if your child has required an evaluation for an asthma attack in the doctor’s office, urgent care or emergency room or has been hospitalized, additional visits may be needed.)

These regular check-ups will help you see if any medical or environmental factors are causing poor asthma control.  During planned visits, therefore, your doctor reviews and addresses:                                 

Based on what you discuss, you and your child’s doctor can then adjust the treatment plan to help your child either maintain or regain control.  Having visits when your child is not having an asthma attack helps your pediatrician see how good or bad your child’s asthma usually is. Maybe your child has been in good control for enough time that the doctor may tell you to step down treatment a notch or two. Planned-care asthma visits help to identify who can step down and who should step up treatment.

When people see their doctors regularly and have a plan for taking care of their asthma, they are more likely to use their medicine as instructed, get rid of triggers that irritate their lungs, and be more successful in controlling their asthma.

You also need an effective plan to help you know how to increase treatments during attacks or at times when symptoms worsen for your child. The earlier you make changes to the treatment for poor control or during attacks, the greater the likelihood that simple changes may be enough. 

The NHLBI/National Institute of Health’s Expert Guidelines for asthma provide a whole host of recommendations for managing asthma, including regular planned asthma visits. Speak with your child’s doctor about the frequency of planned-care asthma visits that would be best for your child, and schedule your child’s next visit. Take control of your child’s asthma!

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About Dr. Barbara Moore

Barbara J. Moore, board-certified in Pediatric Pulmonology and in Pediatrics. She serves as the Director of Pediatric Asthma Care at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates. She also works for Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates as a Pediatric Hospitalist at Children’s Hospital in Boston. Dr. Moore performed her Pulmonary Fellowship training at Children’s Hospital in Boston. She has worked as an attending Pediatric Pulmonologist in academic hospitals, state hospital and private practice settings. Dr. Moore recently served as a member of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Pediatric Asthma Bundled Payment Advisory Committee, which is part of the state’s ongoing efforts to improve healthcare quality while controlling healthcare costs. She also served dual roles as Chief of Pediatrics and Chief of Respiratory Medicine at the Massachusetts Hospital School. Dr. Moore worked with the Massachusetts Peer Review Organization to help that organization develop pulmonary guidelines for use when screening the quality of pulmonary care received by Medicaid and Medicare patients in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Dr. Moore is a VA Fellowship-trained Medical Informaticist and member of the adjunct clinical faculty at Northeastern University’s Master’s Program in Health Informatics. Her interests include improving healthcare delivery and healthcare quality through the use of information technology at the clinical point of care, via patient-focused software applications and through the use of healthcare data analysis. Dr. Moore is an avid sailor and gardener.

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