Asthma Basics: What You Need to Know

Asthma Basics: What You Need to Know

image of older man treating asthma

General Asthma information

  • The number of people with asthma continues to grow
  • One in 12 people (about 25 million, or 8% of the U.S. population) had asthma in 2009 compares with 1 in 14 (about 20 million or 7%) in 2001
  • More than half (59%) of children and one-third (33%) of adults who had an asthma attack missed school or work because of asthma in 2008
  • On average in 2008, children missed 4 days of school and adults missed 5 days of work because of asthma.
  • Asthma was linked to 3,447 deaths (about 9 per day) in 2007
What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways and lungs.  It causes inflammation of the airways that gets worse when you are exposed to certain things in the environment, also known as asthma triggers.

The symptoms of asthma may include:

  • Chronic coughing, especially at night
  • Shortness of breath with or without exercise
  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing-a scratching or whistling sound that comes from deep in your chest when you breathe

Asthma flare-ups or “attacks” are often caused by exposure to allergens such as pet dander, dust mite, mold or pollen.

Non-allergic asthma triggers include illness, weather changes or extremes of temperature, pollutants or smoke exposure, stress or extremes of emotion.  Asthma symptoms may also be triggered by exercise.

Children & Asthma

Children with asthma may show the same signs of asthma as adults: coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.  In some, the only symptoms may be cough.

Take care about asthma rescue inhalers: Read Info

If you or your child has one or more of these common symptoms, make an appointment with an allergist/immunologist:

  • Coughing that is constant or that is made worse by viral infections, happens while you or your child is asleep, or is triggered by exercise or extreme weather changes
  • Recurrent wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Fatigue or the inability to keep up with peers in routine activities, play or sports
  • Problems sleeping due to coughing or difficulty breathing

Pay attention to patterns or symptoms. This will help your allergist/immunologist make the proper diagnosis. Consider if symptoms occur with exercise, early in the morning or at night, during certain seasons, with laughing or crying or with common allergic triggers.

How is asthma diagnosed?

In very young children, asthma diagnosis is based on a thorough medical and family history as well as physical exam.  In some children, allergy testing may be indicated if a specific trigger is suspected.

Children with a family history of asthma in their parents have a personal history of eczema or food allergy and who wheeze outside of colds have a greater likelihood of developing more persistent asthma.

In school aged children and adults, a breathing  test may be performed to see how well the lung work in addition to a thorough medical and family history as well as allergy testing if indicated.

How is asthma treated?

There is no cure for asthma, but it can be controlled.

Avoiding triggers that cause asthma is very important. Allergen desensitization via allergy shots may be an option for some. Your doctor will talk to you about controller and rescue medications if needed.

Every asthma patient needs to have an asthma action plan. This is a plan that outlines daily treatment and what to do in case asthma flares.

People with asthma are at risk of developing complications from respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia. That is why it is important to consider receiving vaccinations as recommended by your primary doctor and your allergist/immunologist.

Do you have more questions about asthma? 

For personalized information about an asthma diagnosis, you should talk to an allergist. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

Asthma Resources

Asthma Overview, American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI)

Asthma Management, American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI)

DISCLAIMER: This blog is for informational purposes only. It does not replace medical care from a licensed physician. If you have a medical concern, please contact your doctor.

Get Moving for National Physical Fitness Month!

Are you getting enough physical activity? 

How about your family? Do you know the suggested daily amount of activity? 

If you’re an adult, you should be incorporating at least 30 minutes of physical activity into your daily routine.For children that time is doubled to 60 minutes. 

image of older couple riding bikes

Why is Being Active Important? 

The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition shares that 

Regular physical activity can produce long-term benefits, such as helping 

  • Prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke
  • Control weight
  • Promote strong bone, muscle and joint development
  • Improve sleep 

When you’re not physically active, you are more at risk for

  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease

But how do you squeeze that activity into an already packed schedule? 

We’ve gathered some tips for each group below to help you get moving for national physical fitness month. 


How to Eat Healthy When Pregnant

As a first-time mother, or during any pregnancy, it's important to eat healthy.

Good nutrition during pregnancy improves your chance of having a healthy baby, and may even reduce the risk of other conditions in your child later in life. 

We’ve collected a list of foods to eat-- and some to avoid-- when you are pregnant. At the end we’ve also included a few recipes that incorporate some of our suggested foods. Enjoy! 

If you have more specific questions about proper nutrition during your pregnancy, contact your physician.

image of healthy eating

How to Eat Healthy When Pregnant

Eat foods packed with key vitamins & minerals.

Folic Acid, Omega-3 fatty acids

Vitamins A, B, C, E


Iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, selenium, zinc, potassium, calcium

Fruit & Veggies

Mangoes, Avocados, Broccoli, Carrots, Edamame, red pepper, spinach


Meet Dr. Zenos Vangelos, Sports Medicine Specialist

Meet Dr. Zenos Vangelos, D.O. 

Dr. Zenos Vangelos will bring his Sports Medicine Practice to the Westlake brand of Westshore Primary Care.

Semi-pro soccer player? Check. 

Team physician for the Cleveland Indians and US Soccer Federation? Check.

Seeing new patients for his new sports medicine practice at Westshore Primary Care? Check.

Dr. Zenos Vangelos brings a wealth of sports medicine experience, a passion for returning injured athletes back to the playing field, and a desire to train others in the field of sports medicine.


Spring Allergy Season Strikes Again- 10 Tips to Find Relief

image of woman in spring with allergy sneezing

An estimated 36 million Americans are keeping their tissue boxes close by in preparation for the peak of spring allergy season. Spring’s budding trees and blooming flowers mark another battle against sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and congestion for allergy sufferers.

Allergies are triggered by substances called allergens, such as pollen or mold spores. Many trees, grasses and weeds contain small and light pollen that are easily carried by the wind, causing allergy symptoms to flare up in the spring.

"One of the best ways to help prevent allergy attacks is to start taking medication prescribed by your allergist about a week before peak allergy season in your area begins," said Dr. Nancy Wasserbauer, Allertist/Immunologist of Westshore Primary Care. "With continued use of medication and avoidance of potential triggers, allergic symptoms can be minimized."

In addition to timing medication, Dr. Wasserbauer offers the following tips to help allergy sufferers find some relief this spring.


Answered: 10 Health Insurance Marketplace FAQs

Westshore Primary Care in Westlake, Ohio answers their top 10 patient questions about the Health Insurance Marketplace. Read more to find out how to keep your coverage if you choose a new plan. Image of question mark made with puzzle pieces by Horia Varlan is licensed under CC by 2.0.

With all the changes in the health insurance market, as well as increased opportunities to secure insurance coverage on your own, it is often difficult to know where to go for information or assistance.

If you are looking for (or updating) your insurance coverage, it’s important to know that each insurance company offers different plans with similar names, but they are not all accepted by your primary care physician.

Many people find it confusing looking at these plans because they may sound similar in name, but actually provide very different benefits.

In order to help you get a better understanding of the process and the Marketplace, we pulled together a list of your top questions.


Quick & Healthy Spring Meals for Your Family

When was the first day of spring? Believe it or not, spring technically started on March 20, 2014 the date of the vernal (spring) equinox. And although it may not feel like spring just yet, we are hopeful it will get here soon! 

Flowers are pushing their way through the dirt, birds are chirping, and the sun seems to be staying around longer and longer every day. In northeastern Ohio we are used to waiting a little longer for the warmer weather and sunny skies. But that’s OK! We can still enjoy many of the seasonal fruits and vegetables while we wait for spring to show up.

If you’re looking for some ways to incorporate more spring fruits and vegetables into your family’s diet this season, check out some of our suggested recipes below.

image of healthy spring meal

What's in season?

Spring Fruits

  • Apricots
  • Cherries
  • Kumquats
  • Lemons
  • Rhubarb- technically a vegetable, often used as a fruit
  • Strawberries

Spring Vegetables

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Chard and other greens
  • Fava Beans
  • Fennel
  • Morel mushrooms
  • Peas (sugar snap, snow peas, green peas)
  • Radishes

Quick & Healthy Spring Meals for Your Family

We know that during the week it can be difficult to put together a meal between the practice pickups and lesson drop-offs. So we found a few recipes for spring that are (mostly) all quick, healthy and easy to make for your family. Don’t forget to let us know your favorite spring recipes in the comments below...


Weeknight Dinners

You can find more options for healthy, spring weeknight meals on Food Network as well as this blog post where Whole Foods shares some of their healthy recipes for spring


More information about spring foods & recipes 

What does your family enjoy cooking the most in the spring? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share the recipe! 

Photo Credit: "Cherries" by Steven Lilley is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

DISCLAIMER: This blog is for informational purposes only. It does not replace medical care from a licensed physician. If you have a medical concern, please contact your doctor.

What Every Parent Ought to Know About Teen Drinking

image of two teens going to prom

Is your teen attending the prom this year?  If so, you've probably been hearing about this event for quite some time now.

Maybe your teen has a date, is asking a date, is going with friends, or is still deciding what to wear. These are all top-priority details for your teen, but as a parent you’re more concerned about the other details that are typically associated with prom.

Since April is alcohol awareness month, we thought we’d share some facts and other resources about teen drinking that can help you get the conversation started with your son or daughter prior to the big night. Even if your child is still in middle school, you’ll see the research below that proves the benefits of talking to him or her early about the risks of drinking.


What’s New in Colorectal Cancer Research and Treatment?

image of cancer research

As National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month comes to a close, we wanted to leave you with some links to additional resources on new research, treatment and clinical trials for the disease.

Resources for Colorectal Cancer Research & Treatment 

New Research, Colorectal Cancer- American Cancer Society

Research and treatments for cancer are constantly evolving—this site discusses new techniques for early detection, testing, and treatment of colorectal cancer.


Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: Risk Factors, Prevention Tips, and Resources

Did you know that among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the U.S.?But it doesn’t have to be, because colorectal screening saves lives.

Screenings can find precancerous polyps (abnormal growths in the colon or rectum) so that they can be removed before turning into cancer.According to the Centers for Disease Control, "about nine out of every 10 people whose colorectal cancer is found early and treated are still alive five years later."