Chat Loaded with Praise for Pediatrician

Posted: February 3, 2017

The latest #OurDocTalk live chat on Facebook probably should have been held on Valentine’s Day — it was a love fest!

Of the 45 comments made on the Facebook post for pediatrician Matthew Heeren, M.D., more than 30 were just comments from patients about what a wonderful doctor he is.

Heeren’s half-hour chat on Jan. 25 focused on questions about childhood asthma and allergies and more than a few testimonials about the good doctor.

“We’ve been with Dr. Heeren for the last 10 years we love him,” wrote one patient.

“We love Dr. Heeren!! So happy we chose him to be our daughter’s doctor, always responds quickly with the best advice!! Amazing doctor,” wrote another.

In between the praises, there were some important questions posed and Dr. Heeren was straightforward and even infused some humor in his answers.

“Can you please comment on the research around immunizations not causing things such as allergies, cancer, or autism, which is running in the rumor mill among many families I work with,” asked one poster.

“There is absolutely NO evidence that immunizations cause allergies/cancer/autism or even polka dot skin with stripes,” Dr. Heeren wrote. “Antibiotics, hand-washing, and immunizations have saved millions and millions of lives over the last 50-100 years. This is a great example of ‘alternative facts!’”

Other questions focused on the basics: “What causes asthma and allergies in the body? How much do genetics, environment, and other factors attribute to asthma and allergies?”

“Asthma and allergies are multifactorial chronic diseases. At the cellular level the body starts to treat dust/pollen/etc. as enemies and mounts an immune response that is an over-reaction to the threat,” Dr. Heeren explained. “Genetics plays a role for sure, but children who are raised in certain conditions (smoke/dust/smog) can also develop asthma regardless of family contribution. It has been theorized that the rise in allergies and asthma is in part related to decreased exposure to dirt and animals (moved to the city away from farming) AND exposure to the ills of the big city … smoke/dust/smog. Very complex stuff but fascinating as well … Be well.”

In the end, Dr. Heeren spent more than the allotted 30 minutes to answer all of the questions and even took the time to post a thank you to his fans:

“Thank you to everyone who wrote and ‘liked’ and ‘loved’ and sent Cathy (my M.A.) and I well wishes and sweet thoughts!”

Here is an edited transcript of the chat:

Comment: We love Dr. Heeren!

Comment: My son sees Dr. Heeren! Awesome guy!

Comment: He's the best doctor ever!!!

Comment: All of my kids love Dr. Heeren!! He is a wonderful doctor!!

Comment: I used to see Dr. Heeren!!

Comment: We've been with Dr. Heeren for the last 10 years we love him

Comment: Dr. Heeren is amazing! All 3 of my kids see him.

Q.: Dr. Heeren can you please comment on the research around immunizations not causing things such as allergies, cancer, or autism, which is running in the rumor mill among many families I work with.

Dr. Heeren: There is absolutely NO evidence that immunizations cause allergies/cancer/autism or even polka dot skin with stripes....Antibiotics, hand-washing, and immunizations have saved millions and millions of lives over the last 50-100 years ... this is a great example of "alternative facts"!!!

NorthBay Healthcare:  Here is more from the CDC on Vaccine safety: https://www.cdc.gov/.../parents/vaccine-decision/index.html

Q.: An 8-year-old boy who has lumpy glands. Took to doctor twice and they say they are fine. When should a parent worry it's not just swollen glands from a virus or something?

Dr. Heeren: Lumpy glands or lymphadenopathy as we say is for the most part a very common and healthy response to the many different viruses and bacteria etc.  kids face. 2 weeks to several months can be normal...Glands that are growing or painless or spreading or associated with weight loss/night sweats/fevers are the ones you need to worry about

Comment: Awesome Doctor!!

Comment: We love Dr. Heeren!

Comment: Love Dr. Heeren. So down to earth!

Q.: What are long term effects of the controllers like QVAR?

Dr. Heeren: QVAR and the inhaled corticosteroids used to treat persistent asthma symptoms do not have long term significant effects when reviewing the literature. A tiny, tiny effect on eventual long term growth is outweighed by the damage that permanent changes occur in the lungs of children who are under treated for their asthma. Wow that was a mouthful!!! Be well Hi to all your boys!

NorthBay Healthcare: Here is more on treating childhood asthma from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/.../asthma-in.../art-20044383

Reply: Thanks! I have used asthma controllers all my life as well and haven't noticed anything. Thanks for the article

Comment: He's so amazing!

Comment: We love Dr Heeren!! So happy we chose him to be our daughters doctor, always responds quickly with the best advice!! Amazing doctor

Comment: Dr. Heeren is the BEST!

Comment: Dr. Heeren is the best!!!

Q.: Is there any connection between phanmonia and asthma? If a child has reoccurring phanmonia, could it actually be misdiagnosed asthma?

Dr. Heeren: Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs often accompanied by fever cough shortness of breath etc. Asthma is a chronic illness that involves airway reactivity (bronchospasm) and mucus and inflammation… Those with asthma are more susceptible to pneumonia but those who develop pneumonia are necessarily more at risk for asthma. Hope that helps. A reoccurring pneumonia should be investigated to see if there is underlying asthma.

Comment: The best Doctor and his nurse is great too!!!

Q.: What causes asthma and allergies in the body? How much do genetics, environment, and other factors attribute to asthma and allergies?

Dr. Heeren: asthma and allergies are multifactorial chronic diseases. At the cellular level the body starts to treat dust/pollen/etc as enemies and mounts an immune response that is an overreaction to the threat. Genetics plays a role for sure, but children who are raised in certain conditions (smoke/dust/smog) can also develop asthma regardless of family contribution. It has been theorized that the rise in allergies and asthma is in part related to decreased exposure to dirt and animals (moved to the city away from farming) AND exposure to the ills of the big city… smoke/dust/smog. Very complex stuff but fascinating as well … Be well.

Q.: Dr. Hereen, is eczema the result of a food allergy? Also when you have a tree nut and peanut allergy why are you also warned to be cautious of cantaloupe, avocados, and (not sure if the last one is this or not) bananas?

Dr. Heeren: The warnings re exposure to other foods may be related to particular cross-reactivity (same proteins found in similar foods) causing allergic reactions. Eczema can be brought on by foods but is more commonly found among children with a family history of allergies/asthma and eczema. Its interesting that in the Philippines eczema is also "skin asthma":)

NorthBay Healthcare: Here is good information on treatment of eczema: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/treatment-of-atopic-dermatitis-eczema

Reply: That is interesting. Thank you.

Comment: Best doctor ever!!!!!!

Comment: 10yrs with Dr. Handsome (my 6yr olds Nick name for dr. Heeren) AND WE LOVE HIM AND MS. KATHY. Best Dr. Hands down!!

Comment: Oh I miss Dr. Heeren and Cathy!!! My girls do too..

Comment: Been with DR. Heeren for 13 years my kids love him there teens now but still remember when he could see elephants in their ears lol best doc. Hands down

Comment: Dr Heeren!!! Best pediatrician ever, always trust him and his advice, always takes the time to listen and always helps and explains and has the very best ma Kathy

Comment: THE BEST DOCTOR FOR MY LITTLE ONE! love you Dr. Heeren!

Comment: I absolutely love him!!! Before my husband's company switched to Kaiser we had blue cross and he was our doctor from the time my son was born until 10. Such an amazing man!

Q.: I know someone with a 7-year-old son battling the label “asthma” for years. Different pediatricians have been apprehensive of diagnosing the child because his wheezing and constant coughing appear sonly when he gets sick. He has an inhaler and has had steroid treatments in the past as well as bronchitis. Exposure to other children in school means he gets sick more frequently and coughing attacks are persistent and aggressive, keeping him up at night. His parents use an inhaler during these times but have been advised not to give him cough syrup. My question is, does this sound like asthma, and if so, does an inhaler suffice or should he get a more robust breathing machine? Why would doctors be apprehensive about labeling him as asthmatic?

Dr. Heeren: This doses in fact sound like asthma ... but more specifically, persistent asthma. This means that using a "rescue" inhaler (usually albuterol) is not enough to keep symptoms under control...this child probably would benefit form a daily inhaled corticosteroid (flovent qvar etc) to control the underlying inflammation that the albuterol does not address. Not sure why they would resist diagnosing the asthma and aggressively treating it so this child leads a more symptom free life...ask your doctor about this...be well

Q.: My 15-year-old daughter has had so many asthma attacks I lost count. She has been intubated twice, most recent attack last week and NB ED used a bi-PAP machine. Here is my question, these severe attacks seem to only occur at night. I worry about this happening at school, but it seems to be a night thing. Any reason or validation for that?

Dr. Heeren: Asthma symptoms are always worse at night as the bodies naturally anti-inflammatory hormone (cortisol) is lower. This asthma diagnosis sounds very severe and I would make sure she is on maximum medicines and has maybe spoken to a pulmonologist or allergist.. Hope that gives you some peace

Q.: My son and I seem to be having a hard time controlling our normally very well controlled asthma this year. Is this a common trend this year with harsher temperatures and excessive rain?

Dr. Heeren: Yes Rebecca some years can be oddly worse than others for people ... this is probably based on a number of factors like pollen counts/precipitation/wind/heat and cold. .. It’s frustrating for sure especially if you felt like things were well controlled

Comment: Love Dr. Heeren

Comment: The best pediatrician!

Q.: My daughters left eye is consistently itchy and the outer eyelid gets red and dry. The doctor has us putting Vaseline and/or a hydrocortisone cream around the eye and taking Claritin. It seems to somewhat help but I'm wondering if you have any other suggestions

Dr. Heeren: This is a difficult problem to treat since it’s just one small area BUT it’s the eye. A combination of topical treatment AND an antihistamine are the best way to attack the issue. Also frequent eye rinses/no touching the eye/ and changing the antihistamine every so often can provide more relief.

Q.: How about adult asthma/allergies???? Just looking for additional information.....that’s all

Dr. Heeren: Adult asthma allergies are pretty much the same but may be caused by other environmental issues (smoke/infections/chronic illness)..i would have to punt to my adult doctor friends...be well.

Reply: Thank you, you too

Comment: He's been our Pediatrician for over 10 years, he's the best! And it doesn't hurt that he's easy on the eyes.

Comment: He’s the best children doc 4 over 12 years. Great caring nurse too thanks to nice doctors like you you’re the best

Comment: The Nurse there is great as well. She helped me with a lot. Caring people

Comment: my kids and I all love Dr. Heeren! We have been with him for over 10 years! And, his nurse, Kathy, is wonderful, too!

Comment: We miss Dr. Heeren! He and his nurses are the best!!!

Comment:   I agree. He's a great doctor; excellent nurses too.

Comment:   He's such a great pediatrician he's awesome :) and we love Cathy too

Q.: I know someone with a 7-year-old who suffers from asthma. The child was diagnosed at age 3. Is it possible to pass that on to a younger sibling? His younger sibling has now been diagnosed with asthma as well.

Dr. Heeren: You cannot "pass" asthma on to another person but there is an increase chance the sibling will develop asthma since they share genetics and environment.

Comment: I love Dr. Heeren. He's really nice.

NorthBay Healthcare: Our chat with Dr. Heeren has now ended. We thank him for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer questions. If you want to know more about Dr. Heeren, here is his professional profile: https://www.northbay.org/doctors/our-doctors/phys425.cfm

Dr. Heeren: Thank you to everyone who wrote and "liked" and "loved" and sent Cathy and I well wishes and sweet thoughts!!

 

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