Breathe easy: Asthma, allergy clinic continues

Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2003

People suffering from sinus trouble, hay fever, allergies or asthma can breath easily. For one more day, the Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center will be at Central Peninsula General Hospital to diagnose or follow up with those dealing with respiratory problems.

"My brother and I both have asthma, and I was afraid she'd get it," Anna Chumley said of her 20-month-old daughter, Autumn.

Chumley said her family doctor initially presumed Autumn had croup, an infant coughing syndrome that generally clears up by age 2. But Chumley said her doctor eventually referred her to the clinic.

"I thought she would grow out of it," she said.

Chumley left the clinic with two types of inhalers and expectations that her infant would improve, but also with an understanding of what was to come.

"I'm pretty aware of what it is," she said.

The Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center set up shop in the basement of the hospital Monday for a three-day clinic that ends this evening "when the last patient leaves," said allergist Dr. Paul Williams.

"We're allergists, so we receive extra training on dealing with complicated cases that family practitioners may not feel comfortable with," Williams said.

The doctors who come each year provide diagnosis for new patients or offer advise to recurring patients on how best to manage evolving allergic conditions or resulting respiratory trouble. And they work with local doctors to help patients throughout the year.

The clinic has been held at CPGH for more than 12 years, normally twice a year, in June and August. Williams said this year's clinic will only visit this week, unless a need arises for a return.

"It's not ideal, but we would like to do it more often," he said. "But it seems like it's not needed much."

Williams said better medicines, better training and treatment practices for local physicians and a growing number of allergists in Anchorage have scaled back the need for the clinic. But Deb Nyquist of Kenai said the clinic is still helpful to her 10-year-old asthmatic son, Anders, who also suffers from a dangerous allergy to peanuts.

"I can't breath and get hives," Anders said, describing what happens when he comes into contact with peanuts.

"He could die," his mother added.

Nyquist said her pediatrician suggested the clinic, and she has been bringing Anders to the clinic since he was 6. They were there Tuesday to address a new reaction he had to the dry weather this winter.

"He was taking another medication that wasn't helping much," she said. "I don't know what we would do if they weren't here."

To make an appointment for today, call the Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center in Soldotna at 714-4554, or at (800) 437-4055.

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