asthma TV

Dr. Jackie: Who’s at Risk for Asthma

Who’s at Risk for Asthma

In this NBC4 video, Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family ENT, Allergy & Asthma Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland, tells us who’s at higher risk of asthma and how budget cuts in Maryland affect those who suffer from it.

Are the Maryland budget cut short sighted? Does your zip code matter? Dr. Jackie refers to a Johns Hopkins asthma study, showing that race, ethnicity and income are the biggest risk factors for asthma.

Asthma in inner city linked to demographics, not urban factors

Who's at Risk for Asthma: Demographics plays role in asthma prevalence in the United States
Who’s at Risk for Asthma: Demographics plays role in asthma prevalence in the United States

High asthma incidence in inner-city areas may be due to demographic factors rather than living in urban neighborhoods, according to study findings in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Researchers analyzed data from the 2009-2011 National Health Interview Survey, the US Census and the National Center for Health Statistics for 23,065 children aged 6 to 17 years.

“Current asthma prevalence was significantly higher among blacks (17.1%) and Puerto Ricans (19.8%), compared with whites (9.6%), Hispanics (8.8%) and Asians (8.1%).”

“Black race and Puerto Rican ethnicity remained strong independent predictors of current asthma, even when neighborhood-level poverty, urban/rural status, region, sex, age and birth in the United States were included in the model.”

Dr. Jackie: How Concerned Should We Be About Ebola and Enterovirus - Family Allergy & Asthma Care
asthma public health

Dr. Jackie: How Concerned Should We Be About Ebola and Enterovirus

Dr. Jackie On How Concerned Should We Be About Ebola and Enterovirus?

With the first confirmed case of Ebola now showing up here in the U.S. and with the Enterovirus spreading across the country, how concerned should we be about these viruses?

Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family ENT, Allergy & Asthma Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland, discusses how concerned we should be about Ebola and enterovirus.

Dr. Jackie: How Concerned Should We Be About Ebola and Enterovirus - Family ENT, Allergy & Asthma Center
Dr. Jackie Talks About How Concerned Should We Be About Ebola and Enterovirus, Image source

This NBC4 video addresses a range of relevant questions.

  • Let’s start with Ebola. We’ve been told patients are only contagious when symptomatic and only if you have contact with their body fluids.  But just how easy is it to catch?
  • The CDC says we can stop Ebola in its tracks. But many people still wonder just how well-prepared we  are to do that?
  • Let’s review the symptoms which show up from 2-21 days after infection.
  • Enterovirus paralysis and asthma. There’s been one confirmed child death in Rhode Island. Does this virus lead to asthma or pose the biggest threat to children who have asthma?
  • What about the link to paralysis in children? What kinds of precautions should parents take?
  • The flu virus is coming. Are more of your patients getting the vaccine this year?
asthma online media

Dr. Jackie on Everyday Health: 8 Ways to Lower Asthma Medication Costs

Even with insurance, you can still benefit from these ways to save money with asthma.

By Vanessa Caceres for Everyday Health
Medically reviewed by Farrokh Sohrabi, MD

Lower Asthma Medication Costs

Asthma management isn’t cheap. You’re shelling out for maintenance inhalers, rescue inhalers, and often allergy medications — both prescription meds and over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestants, and eye drops — to help control your asthma triggers. That doesn’t even include what you’re spending on physician’s visits, emergency room visits, and asthma-related equipment, like nebulizers.

Although insurance helps cut the cost of medications and provider visits, you still usually have some patient responsibility to shoulder. Plus, asthma costs add up over time because you have to take the medications regularly. “It’s not an antibiotic you take for 10 days,” says Jacqueline Eghrari-Sabet, MD, founder of Family ENT, Allergy & Asthma Center in Gaithersburg, Md.

Recent U.S. statistics show the average per-person cost of asthma is $3,300 a year, a figure that combines medical expenses with missed days at work and school. Unfortunately, these costs aren’t expected to dwindle anytime soon thanks to the growing number of people managing the disease — up from 7 percent in 2001 to 8 percent in 2009, or one in 12 people.

But even with the rising numbers, there are ways to lower your asthma medication costs. Here are some suggestions from asthma treatment experts for how to reduce the cost of asthma medication.

Dr. Jackie offers 8 Ways to Lower Asthma Medication Costs

1. Be up front about cost concerns. “Patients should be honest about what they can afford so we don’t have them walking out of the office with five brand-name medications,” says Marilyn Li, MD, director of the Breathmobile of Los Angeles County and the University of Southern California Medical Center in Los Angeles. If cost is a concern — and it may be an issue even if you have insurance, particularly if you have a high-deductible plan — your physician can work with you on some of the suggestions below.

2. Ask for generic alternatives if available. Generic drugs will cost less than brand-name.

3. Ask for samples to lower asthma medication costs. If your doctor’s office has samples, you can use those for a short period of time. When cash is a concern for you, your doctor may be able to offer an extended use of samples to sustain you until your next visit.

4. Look out for coupons. Your physician’s office may have coupons, vouchers, or rebates from the manufacturers of some of the most common asthma and allergy medications, says Dr. Li. You can also search online for coupons from some of the larger asthma medication makers, including GlaxoSmithKline and Merck.

5. Apply for patient assistance programs. The biggest asthma drug makers also have patient assistance programs, says Li. If your application to the program is accepted, it will cover or help cover your medication costs. There are usually income restrictions, and the programs are often geared toward people who do not already have insurance.

6. Consider allergy shots. For many people, asthma is triggered by allergies. With allergy shots, you visit your allergy doctor according to a schedule — one that often goes from weekly to monthly over a couple of years. “You ‘vaccinate’ against your allergy,” explains Dr. Eghrari-Sabet. “You get some long-term control, and some people even get permanent relief over allergies.” Allergy shots, also called immunotherapy, are more cost-effective than asthma and allergy medication taken over a lifetime, she adds.

7. Follow the treatment regimen your physician recommends. Your treatment for asthma may leave you reaching for your pocketbook a little more than you’d like, says Li. However, it will beat the alternative of missed school and workdays because of illness as well as the medical bills and copays associated with ER visits.

8. Make sure a member of your medical team explains how to use your asthma medication. On the surface, this may not seem relevant to saving money, and most providers are usually good about explaining how to use asthma medications. However, Li shares the example of a pediatric patient who was constantly in the ER even though his mom gave him asthma medication. After staff worked with her a little more on how to give the medication and how to use an Aero Spacer (a device that helps control the delivery of asthma medication), the boy’s asthma appeared well under control by the next follow-up visit.

Better education on using your meds can help save time and money, not to mention get you better control over your symptoms.

health TV

How Do Your Children Grow?

How Do Your Children Grow?

Did you notice on election night how much first daughters Sasha and Malia Obama have grown over the past four years? They’re obviously eating well from the White House garden!

Most children grow fast at that age, but these days it seems kids are growing faster than ever.  So what’s the new normal?

Meds and other factors can impact growth

Pediatricians say on average, expect a child to add 10 inches in length and triple their weight between birth and the first birthday. After that, the growing slows down.  Kids add about 5 inches and 6 pounds between 12 and 24 months, and average 2½ inches and 6 pounds each year from ages 2 to 10. During puberty, there’s a growth explosion. Girls can sprout up to 9 inches, gaining 15 to 55 pounds. Boys add an average 11 inches and up to 65 pounds.

Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family ENT, Allergy & Asthma Center in Gaithersburg, Md., sees a lot of these children in her practice.  She says new research shows asthma meds can affect a child’s growth.

“This has been studied a very long time,” she said.  “The latest research published in the September edition of the New England Journal of Medicine found that in the first two years of treatment, children who take relatively high doses of inhaled corticosteroids, the most prominent, maintenance medication, will lose about  ½  an inch of their overall adult height,” she said.

But don’t worry.

“Even if your child is on that medication for a decade, the research shows the child is still only going to lose that ½ inch, but at least the child will be healthy, in school and doing well. So there’s a risk benefit,” Dr. Jackie said.

Many moms may assume that the size of their baby at birth is an indicator of how tall the child will grow.  Not so.

“Just because you have a baby bigger than your Butterball turkey this Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you’ll end up with a tall child,” according to Dr. Jackie. “There are a lot of factors and basically growth is genetic, but generally, firstborns and multiples will be smaller because there’s not a lot of room in the uterus. Obese and diabetic mothers may have bigger babies.  An asthmatic mother will have a smaller bab.”

A few other interesting growth facts! Girls grow earlier but stop growing about three years after their first period. In boys, growth spurts tend to happen later and longer, through their teen years. Also, we know kids grow when they sleep.

“That’s because sleep releases their growth hormones,” Dr. Jackie said.

And although experts don’t know just why, believe it or not, kids grow faster in warmer weather — just like we’re sure those veggies must grow in the White House garden.

asthma TV

Many With Asthma Don’t Know It or Won’t Admit It

Many With Asthma Don’t Know It or Won’t Admit It

In this NBC4 videoDr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, an allergy doctor at Family ENT, Allergy & Asthma Center with offices in Gaithersburg, Olney and Frederick, MD, with advice on identifying and treating asthma.

It may be the most misunderstood disease in America, and as quiet as it’s kept, it’s almost become a bad word for many sufferers.

Asthma is the second most commonly-occurring disease in the U.S. Heart disease is No. 1, but asthma strikes twice as often as cancer and diabetes.

In Denial About Asthma

“It wrecks our daily lives and kills an estimated one person every two hours,” said Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet of Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg.

“No one wants to own up to having it. They think they can’t get insurance coverage or will be kicked off the track team, so they just ignore their symptoms,” Eghrari-Sabet said.

And she said it isn’t just patients who are sticking their heads into the sand. Doctors are also loathe to use the “A” word and tend, instead, to classify their patients’ symptoms as “wheezy bronchitis, reactive airways disease, or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction,” according to Dr. Eghrari-Sabet.

Meanwhile, with sufferers in denial, the disease rages on and patients aren’t getting the treatment they need to get it under control. In fact, more than half the people with asthma are considered “out-of-control,” according to Eghrari-Sabet. Yet, she said, if you ask them how they’re doing, they’re likely to say “just fine.”

Eghrari-Sabet’s advice is simple: Just look at your DNA, your daytime symptoms, your nighttime symptoms and your use of albuterol. Are you coughing, wheezing and short of breath with even mild exertion more than twice a week? Do asthma symptoms wake you up at night more than twice a month? Do you use your albuterol inhaler more than twice a week? Are you inhaling more than one canister per year? If your answers are “yes,” you are out of control and need to get to your doctor.

“You cannot rely on the rescue medication. If you do, it will stop working, and you could die,” Eghrari-Sabet said.

Here are more asthma facts from the Allergy & Asthma Foundation of America:

  • It’s the most common chronic condition in children
  • It’s more common in boys than girls, but more common in adult women than men
  • It’s more prevalent among African Americans
  • It accounts for one-quarter of all yearly ER visits
  • Each day, it kills 11 Americans

Article by Pat Lawson Muse.