With allergy season in full-swing, many parents are fitting doctor’s visits for their children into busy schedules. Here are some tips to make those visits as productive as possible:
Start by thinking of you, your child and your allergist as members of a team. Then do the following:
. Dr. Nancy Ostrom, Fellow of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, understands the importance of patient education. “The more you know about allergic diseases and asthma, the more you can contribute to effective office visits for your and your child’s health,” she reports. The Internet hosts a variety of health-related Web sites, but Dr. Ostrom cautions that you link to those providing accurate information from reputable sources, such as www.aaaai.org
, the official Web site of The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. “This is a medically accurate source of information about allergic diseases and asthma. Doing some homework will enhance the educational dialogue you have with your health care providers, including nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, and physicians,” notes Dr. Ostrom.
Keep good records. Record information regarding your child’s symptoms, their triggers, and what makes them better. Keep a list of treatments used—how your child responds, as well as any possible side effects. Your child’s responses might not always be visible to you. Encourage your child to let you know when something doesn’t feel right.
Talk as well as listen. Be sure to share the information you’re gathering with your doctor. Written lists are helpful. Your care provider uses all of the information you provide to help make decisions which will help you and your child. “Your input is very valuable, and we want to know what is important to you so we can help support you and your children lead healthy lives,” states Dr. Ostrom.
Be proactive. Write down questions you might have before the visit so you can discuss them with your care provider. During the visit, if you don’t understand something, ask questions. It is important for you to understand and have input to recommended treatment plans for your child. Let your children know that they can provide information and ask questions as well.
Find a physician you can trust.
Many parents have long-standing relationships with their family physicians or pediatricians and trust these doctors to treat their children’s allergies. However, if you believe your child isn’t doing as well as you’d expect, don’t hesitate to ask for a referral to an allergist. An allergist/immunologist is a pediatrician or an internist with at least two years of specialized training to diagnose and treat allergies and asthma. You can also visit www.aaaai.org
to find an allergist in your location.
Dr Nancy Ostrom, FAAAAI and co-director at Allergy and Asthma Medical Group and Research Center in San Diego, feels that patient input to their health care is essential. “We understand that we are here to care for you and your child, and consider that a privilege. Helping you understand and control your health challenges so that you can live an active life at home, work, school and in your favorite activities is what makes us proud!”
Nancy Ostrom, MD, FAAAAI is an allergist/immunologist in San Diego, CA