Asthma and Airway Center

The Asthma and Airway Center is a comprehensive care center where specialists in Allergy and Immunology, Pulmonary Disease, Public Health, and Patient Education work together to provide patients with Asthma and Airway Disease with integrated specialty care.

The Asthma and Airway Center is located at:

The Briarwood Medical Group and the Asthma and Airway Center
325 Briarwood Circle #5
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Phone: 734-647-9000
FAX: 734-647-9009

The UM Asthma and Airway Center approach differs from traditional approaches to asthma care by providing seamless service from specialists in Allergy and Clinincal Immunology, Pulmonary Disease, Public Health, and Patient Education in one Center. The problem with the traditional approach to managing asthma is that it is not flexible enough to meet your individual needs. Your particular risk factors, triggers, and other concerns related to asthma are unique to you, and it is impossible for a physician to monitor those daily.

At the UM Asthma and Airway Center, we will see you for an initial evaluation and assessment.

What You Should Expect During Your Initial Visit:
Please allow a half-day for your initial treatment so that we can perform a complete examination. Specific tests may include:

If you are on continuous oxygen therapy, be sure to bring it with you. Inform the clerk when you sign in at the front desk, and we will provide you with our oxygen source.

During your visit, a patient educator will teach you about asthma control, helping you to recognize the symptoms of your disease.

Our physicians then customize a treatment plan for you depending on what symptoms you're experiencing, and fit the control of your asthma into your individual lifestyle. You will keep a detailed diary of how your body responds to the treatment plan. You will record any hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and physician office visits or phone calls and review this with our clinic staff.

Follow-up Visits and Community Physician Involvement:
We will continue to see you approximately four times over the course of a year. This will involve initial evaluation, patient-specific treatment plan creation, education and follow-up.

Regular maintenance examinations and visits will, as usual, be handled by your primary physician. Self-managing your disease means you still receive physician guidance. You and your physician will confront asthma as a team communicating frequently so both joint and independent decisions are made with complete information.

Quality Management:
Our goal is to provide you with a better quality of life while decreasing your need for emergency and hospitalization services. To ensure that you are satisfied with the program, we also assess:

What You Should Bring for Your Visit:
To help ensure efficient treatment, it is important that you bring some helpful information to your first appointment. Your care team will need the following from you: Payment for Your Care:
You should be prepared to pay for any deductible co-pay or fees at the time your visit. Accepted payment methods include cash, personal check, VISA, Mastercard, or American Express. If you have questions or need additional information regarding payment, please phone Internal Medicine Associates at (734) 998-7155.

Answers to Your Questions:
At the UM Asthma and Airway Center, you will receive comprehensive care from a team who values your thoughts and concerns. As a result, in addition to testing, a portion of your visit is devoted to answering questions and providing information and treatment instructions. We suggest that you write down any questions or concerns that you may have regarding your diagnosis, medication, or treatment before your appointment, so may address these questions or concerns to your care-givers during your visit.

Facts about Asthma:

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects more than 10 million Americans. The illness normally starts in childhood, usually by age three, and often recedes by adulthood. Asthma is caused by congestion of the bronchial tubes, which are the small air passages in the lungs. During an asthma attack, the air passages in the lungs narrow or become blocked by mucus or a muscle spasm. This makes breathing difficult and causes wheezing or coughing. An attack can be triggered by allergens such as pollen, animal dander, or house dust. It can also be caused by a respiratory infection or emotional stress. Irritants including tobacco smoke, smog, and other chemicals are also factors. A sudden change in temperature or humidity and strong winds can trigger an attack and so can strenuous exercise.

Early signs of asthma include: chronic cough at rest or with exercise, shortness of breath, and wheezing and/or tightness in the chest. The best way to control asthma is to avoid the things that cause it. Being healthy also helps prevent asthma attacks, so eat right, get enough sleep and exercise sensibly. It may be necessary for your doctor to prescribe medication to help prevent attacks or to stop them after they begin. Because asthma can be fatal if it isn't controlled, you should be under a doctor's care if you have the condition. For more information on asthma, talk with your doctor.

In the Event of an Asthma Attack:

For many patients, the symptoms of an asthma attack can be terrifying. An episode may begin suddenly with breathlessness accompanied by wheezing, a tightness in the chest and coughing. Because anxiety causes symptoms to worsen, every attempt should be made to keep the patient as calm and comfortable as possible. Asthma attacks usually can be controlled with prescription medications, such as bronchodilators, that help relax and open the airway. Severe episodes may require more drastic measures such as adrenaline injections or the administration of oxygen. People with asthma and their families need to know how to recognize the early warning signs of asthma attacks. Proper medical treatment can help ease the frequency and severity of attacks.

At The UM Asthma and Airway Center:

Despite this, several facts remain: asthma patients are sicker than ever and they're hospitalized more often than in the past. The University of Michigan Medical Center would like to reverse these startling facts through our new Asthma and Airway Center. The clinic is uniquely designed to use a new method of patient care that allows you more control over managing your disease.

Research Shows Self-Management Works
Research shows educational programs that encourage more self-management on the part of patients can dramatically improve their health by reducing hospital admissions, emergency room visits, sleep disturbances, and absenteeism from work. When patients participate in educational programs, they are much more likely to use their medications correctly, they experience fewer severe asthma symptoms, and asthma is much less likely to interfere with their daily lives.

Patients must be empowered to assess their asthma symptoms, and, using a customized treatment plan, administer the proper dose of the appropriate medication. That is what we teach our patients in the UM Asthma and Airway Center. Specifically, patients understand how to:

Return to: What You Should Expect During Your Initial Visit.

Facts About the Pulmonary Function Test (PFT):

A pulmonary function test is actually a series of tests that measure both the capacity and effectiveness of your lungs and the force of your breathing.

The following five individual tests make up the pulmonary function test:

  1. The first test measures the flow of air through your lungs. For this test you will sit in a large see-through box and breathe through a small mouthpiece and tube. The technician will talk to you during the test using an intercom. You will begin by breathing normally, then you will be asked to pant gently for a few seconds against a shutter which has been closed in the mouthpiece. This is repeated several times.
  2. The second test measures your normal breathing capacity. For this test you will breathe normally through a tube connected to a machine. You will be instructed to take a large breath in and blow out slowly until all your air is exhaled. This is repeated.
  3. The third test measures the force of your breathing. For this test you will breathe normally into the tube again and then you will be asked to take a big breath in then to blow all the air out as fast and hard as you can. Then you will breathe in - as fast, hard, and deep as you can. This is repeated several times. It is important to work as hard as you can for this test for the best results.
  4. The fourth test measures the largest amount of air that you can breathe per minute. You will breathe through the tube as fast and as deep as you can for 12 seconds. This test is repeated once after a short rest period.
  5. The fifth test is used to measure the ability of your lungs to absorb gases in the air. This test indicates how well the smallest areas of your lungs, or alveoli, are working. For this test you will breathe in through a mouthpiece and then blow your air out. You will then take a deep breath in again, hold it for 10 seconds, and then blow it out. This is repeated.

If You Are Scheduled for PFTs at UMMC

You will be directed to where your test will be done when your appointment is scheduled. If you have breathing medications, ask your physician if you should use them on the day of the test. Before the test begins, you will be asked several questions about your history of smoking, shortness of breath, coughing, asthma and so forth. A technician will be present through all the procedures and will tell you what to do. You should let the technician know if, at any time during the test, you experience discomfort or trouble breathing. Your physician may request an arterial blood gas. If this is ordered, a blood sample will be drawn. None of the other tests require a blood sample. The tests take about one hour to complete; when they are finished, you may go home or to your other appointments.

Return to: What You Should Expect During Your Initial Visit.

Facts About the Allergy Skin Tests:

After the Allergy Physician has obtained a brief history of your allergies, you may choose to have skin testing done. The most common type of skin testing is for airborne allergens. The Allergy Physician will first select the type of allergens you need to be tested for and mark them on the skin test sheet. The skin tester will take the skin test sheet and mark your back with a marker. The selected allergens will then be applied to your back using a Duotip. Duotips are first dipped into the allergen and then applied to the skin with a small scratch. After the allergens have all been applied, we wait about 20 minutes for a reaction to occur. When looking for a positive reaction we will measure the size of any wheal and redness that may occur on the skin as compared to a negative control. These tests are graded by the skin tester and results are marked on the skin test sheet. The skin test sheet is then taken back to the physician and any negative scratch tests may be repeated using an intradermal test. Intradermal tests are performed by using a tuberculin needle to inject a small amount of allergen under the skin. This is usually done on the arm and we also wait for 20 minutes for a reaction to occur. The skin tester will again grade these tests and markresults on the skin testing sheet. When completed, the physician will evaluate these results and will discuss differents methods of treatment with you based on your skin testing results.

Return to: What You Should Expect During Your Initial Visit.

Facts About the Inhalation Challenge Test:

Your physician has ordered a bronchoprovocation test which will be performed in the Pulmonary Lab. The test will require that you inhale a drug called "methacholine." The results of this test will help your physician determine the cause of your cough or shortness of breath. Several tests of lung function will be given before and after breathing a mist of methacholine. A technician will be present throughout this procedure and will tell you what to do. You should let the technician know if, at anytime during the test, you experience discomfort or breathing difficulties. There may be temporary changes in lung function after the inhalation of methacholine, but the technologist administering your test will be monitoring these changes very carefully.

Please remember that test results may be altered if you are taking bronchodilator, antihistamine or beta blocker (heart or blood pressure) drugs. If you think you are taking drugs of this type, please check with your doctor. These drugs must not be taken prior to the inhalation challenge. In addition, you should not eat or drink any food or liquid containing caffeine six hours before testing. This includes coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate. Exercise and exposure to cold air should be avoided for at least two hours before testing. If you have a respiratory infection, this test will need to rescheduled. You need to be free from respiratory infections for six weeks prior to performing this challenge test. You need to wait 7 to 10 days after receiving a flu shot before performing this test. This test cannot be performed if you are pregnant or are breast feeding.

If you have any questions regarding this test, or need to reschedule your appointment because of respiratory infection, please call Pulmonary Diagnostic Services at University of Michigan Hospital at area code (734) 936-5250.

Return to: What You Should Expect During Your Initial Visit.

The Division of Allergy and Immunology, Dapartment of Internal Medicine also provides patient care at the following other Clinic Sites. We are looking forward to working together with you on the successful management of your Asthma and/or Airway Disease.

General Information
Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Faculty
Research Programs
Information for: Medical Students, Research Fellows, and Residents
Allergy and Clinical Immunology-Internal Medicine Home Page