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How long will my first visit take? What will be done?

You should plan to spend about 3 hours in our office. The first visit is very thorough in order to make the most accurate assessment of your condition and to give you the most effective treatment plan. During the visit, one of our registered nurses will take a detailed medical history and perform a few simple tests. Then, you will have a consultation with a physician and/or practitioner to decide on a treatment plan tailored to your needs and lifestyle.

 

How much will my first visit cost? Will my insurance cover it?

As you may know, there are now many different types of health insurance plans. That makes it difficult for our office to predict how much a visit to our office will cost you. In general, the overall charges for a visit to a specialist will cost more than a visit to a pediatrician or a family doctor. However, with some insurances, you may have the same co-pay no matter what doctor you see. The best way to find out how much your visit with us will cost you is to call the member services number on your insurance card. Let them know that you would like to see Dr. William Smits at The Allergy & Asthma Center in Fort Wayne and ask them for a quote of your benefits on allergy and asthma treatment.

 

Do you accept my insurance plan?

We accept nearly every insurance plan in Northeast Indiana. Click here for a list of insurance plans that we accept.

 

Is the allergy testing painless? How is it performed?

We offer ALLERGY TESTING WITHOUT NEEDLES! This is the most advanced and accurate form of allergy testing available and it is administered by our highly -trained registered nurses. It is truly painless for most people. The nurses will place small drops of "extracts" of different allergens (such as ragweed, cats, etc.) in rows on your back. If you are allergic then the place where the drop was placed will turn red and/or swell. The severity of your allergies will be indicated by your reaction to each type of allergen. By the time you leave our office, you will know what you are allergic to.

 

How do you screen for asthma?

An asthma diagnosis is made after assessing the patient’s lung function, as well as thoroughly reviewing the history of upper and lower respiratory illnesses/symptoms. Lung function is most commonly assessed through pulse oximetry or a pulmonary function test (PFT).

Pulse oximetry involves the patient placing their finger into a probe where the percentage of oxygen in the blood can be measured. This is a noninvasive procedure and is painless. A PFT measures lung function by having the patient blow forcefully into a special tube.

 

How soon will I be able to get an appointment?

We can almost always schedule a new patient for an appointment with Dr. William Smits or Dr. Vaughn Maples within two weeks. Often, we can set you up an appointment with Practitioners Jeannie Giese, Renee Holley or Jill Ham within one week.

 

Do you see children? adults? seniors?

We see and treat all patients from newborns to seniors. We have extensive experience with all age groups and we offer treatment plans that take into account the special needs and requirements of each age group.

 

Why should I choose The Allergy & Asthma Center?

That is an excellent question! We believe that most of our patients choose us because they trust that we can help them feel better. Many patients also comment that they appreciate how our friendly and professional staff helps them with all of their questions and concerns.

 

How can you tell the difference between a cold, virus, or the flu and an allergy or asthma flare up?

COLD vs. ALLERGIES

You have a runny, itchy nose and watery, itchy eyes. You're sneezing all the time. Do you have a cold or allergies? Because allergy symptoms often mimic those of a common cold, people often mistake one for the other. How to tell the difference? Ask yourself a few questions:

When do the symptoms occur, and how long do they last? Allergies may be seasonal (often occurring in warm weather) and tend to come and go. Colds thrive during cold and rainy weather, when people are indoors in crowded places. Colds generally last less than a week. So if your "cold" lasts for several weeks in the summer, chances are good its an allergy.

What are your symptoms? Allergies usually aren't accompanied by headaches and/or muscle aches, as colds often are.

COLD vs. FLU

People sometimes use the words cold and flu interchangeably, or they use flu to mean a stomach virus with symptoms such as diarrhea. The flu is a viral disease called influenza. It may have symptoms in common with a cold, but it is more serious because it can have potentially fatal complications. The flu kills 20,000 Americans each year.

For the most part, the distinction between colds and flu is not especially significant. In healthy adults younger than 65, both diseases are usually self-limiting, meaning they will go away on their own. Antibiotics are useless treatments for both. Depending on which strain of the virus you catch, the flu generally packs a meaner punch than a cold. Its symptoms tend to be more severe and it may last one to two weeks, as opposed to a few days to a week for a cold.

The real reason to learn the difference is the possible after-effects. A cold may sometimes lead to a secondary bacterial infection, treatable with antibiotics. For older people and those with weak immune systems, influenza carries potential deadly complications.

Even healthy people should be aware when they have the flu, so they can be extra careful not to spread it to people at risk of complications. There is also an anti-viral drug that may be appropriate and necessary for treating influenza, but is never used for colds.

The chart below compares cold and flu symptoms. Once you are familiar with the telltale signs of each infection, it will become pretty easy for you to discern whether you have a cold or influenza.

One final note on this subject. If you develop a cough that lingers for weeks, see a doctor. It could be something that requires antibiotics, or it could be whooping cough. This contagious disease is making a comeback among unvaccinated children and adults. Some adults may never have been immunized; others may have received vaccines that are no longer providing protection.


Based on information from:

 

What is the difference between a "maintenance" inhaler and a "rescue" inhaler?

A "maintenance" inhaler is used daily and helps to keep asthma under control. A "rescue" inhaler is intended to be used only "as needed" for coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath.

 

How do I know when my inhaler is empty?

One way to tell how much medication is left in your inhaler is to place the canister that hold the medicine (without the mouthpiece) in a water and watch how it floats. If the cannister is empty, it will float to the top; if it is full, it will sink to the bottom. This will work for the following inhalers: Flovent, Aerobid, Serevent, Azmacort, Proventil, Maxair, Albuterol, Combivent, Vanceril, and Tilade. It will not work for Pulmicort, Serevent Diskus, or Flovent Rotodisk. This method is not a substitute for counting the number of puffs listed in the product information sheet that comes with the inhaler.

 

When should I call the Allergy & Asthma Center and when should I call my family doctor?

If you are exhibiting symptoms such as increased cough, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, increased nasal drainage and congestion, or headache, please contact the Allergy and Asthma Center. It is likely that you are experiencing an exacerbation of your allergic disease, asthma, or both.

 

Are samples provided to patients when new medications are ordered?

When we prescribe a medication to a patient for the first time, we often provide samples of the medication for the first week's dose. That way, if the medication does not work the patient has not paid for something they won't use. The following is our "Samples Policy":

1.) The Physician–Patient relationship must be intact in order for samples to be dispensed (i.e. follow-up visits must be up to date).

2.) Samples are given for a trial period. If the sample medication is well tolerated, a prescription will be given to the patient for use over a longer period of time.

3.) The responsibility for the payment of prescription medication rests upon the patient.


Samples may not be available for all medications we prescribe.

 

Will you provide a school or work excuse slip when I am sick?

We do provide school and work excuse slips. The following is our policy:

1.) The patient must have an office visit with one of our providers. The school/work excuse will be written for the date the patient is actually seen.

2.) No retroactive excuses will be granted.

3.) If the absence will cover an extended period of time, periodic visits may be required as the provider deems necessary

 

When I feel better, is it okay to stop taking my medications?

Please do not stop taking any medications without first contacting the Allergy and Asthma Center and discussing it with one of our highly trained nurses or physicians.