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Friday, May 22, 2015

Dry powder inhaler?

Did you know there is a new dry powder rescue inhaler that is soon to hit stores? (If it hasn't already.....)

The new inhaler is made by TEVA pharmaceuticals. In the press release, it says that the inhaler is "the first and only breathe-actuated dry powder rescue inhaler". I had to read that twice......but it looks like instead of being like a regular inhaler (that comes out in a spray) this is a dry powder.

It sounds like other asthma medications that are dry powder - but they are usually daily, controller (or maintenance) medications. This is a rescue inhaler.

There's also a quote from Dr. David I. Bernstein of the University of Cincinnati. He says, "The approval of ProAir RespiClick is significant as it eliminates the need for hand-breathe coordination during inhalation." 

In simple terms, it's made for those of us who have no coordination and can't chew gum and walk at the same time. With this inhaler, you wouldn't have to time it just right to get the medicine into your lungs.

With regular rescue inhalers, you have to time it just right - or you might breathe in too soon or too late, and not be able to get all of the puff from your inhaler into your lungs. If you aren't careful, it will just end up at the back of the throat. I use a spacer to help me get it just right. 

When I use my inhaler, the puff goes right into spacer (the tube), then I just breath in slowly and all of the medicine will go down into my lungs.

This dry powder inhaler looks like another option.
As with any new medicine, your doctor will know what's best for you. And some insurances may not cover it. I know that my insurance company is a little picky about what it will cover.
But, I like to at least know what my options are!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Asthma Blues

Just a short post today since I'm traveling (and I can't get a photo to upload.)

I met Al Keith at an asthma conference this month. He is an inspiring guy! He became a respiratory therapist after his daughter passed away as an infant. His daughter had an amazing respiratory therapist who inspired Al Keith to then become a respiratory therapist. His dedication and passion has impacted many lives over the years.

As a respiratory therapist, he provided asthma education to his patients. In 2002, he created Asthma Blues, which combines music and asthma education. The music CD uses different types of music (blues, country and rap) to teach people how to take care of their asthma. 

He uses guidelines from the NHLBI (National Heart Lung Blood Institute) to create the songs.

They are pretty funny - you can listen to one of the songs here and read the lyrics on the screen.

Studies have shown that the music and educational program are successful in helping people control their asthma.What a creative approach!

And what a wonderful man who took lemons and made lemonade (from the death of his daughter, to becoming a respiratory therapist to help other families.)

Hats off to Al Keith!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Traveling with asthma....

We were traveling last week, and of course someone in the family was sick. It seems like EVERY time we travel, someone is sick. I guess that's what happens when Hubby and I both work. Both of our sons work and go to college, and daughter Kitty is in school with 1200 other germ infested students. So there are LOTS of germs floating around.

So, what to do when you travel and you have asthma?

We started by checking to make sure we had our Out of State Coverage cards from our insurance company. Then Hubby looked up locations that were covered in the area where we were traveling. There were a few doctor's offices there that would accept our insurance. There was also a hospital. 

Then we made sure we packed maintenance medications, the rescue inhalers and allergy medicine. Oh, and LOTS of tissues.

The problem we found when we travel is that we are off our regular schedule. So, we had to remember to take our maintenance medication each morning. At home, we have a regular routine when we get ready for work or school. Not so much when we travel.

We had to put our medicine out on the table in the hotel room so we would see it and remember to take it every morning and every night.

We also checked the pollen count in that area before we left so we knew how much allergy medicine to bring. There are a lot of different sites out there that work well to find your pollen level.   

I also took my Epi Pen, and it was interesting because of all the airports and secured buildings we visited, I only had one person stop me and ask me about it. The guard pointed it out on the x-ray screen and asked what it was. It looked a long spring on the screen, so I was confused for a minute. Then I realized it had to be my Epi Pen (it looks a lot different in on the x-ray screen than it does in my purse!)  I told him it was my Epi Pen and took it out to show him. He then waved me through security. 

We were okay with our allergies and asthma while we were there, but I believe in being prepared. I know that if I DON'T take our medicine on vacation, something will happen and I wish we WOULD have brought it. If I do bring it, we seem to do well. Maybe it's just knowing that it's there and we are prepared.....just in case.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sneezing fits after showering

Allergies and asthma can be so hard to figure out some times. Sigh. 

Daughter Kitty has some pretty severe allergies - to everything! In fact, she has already completed 6 year's worth of allergy shots (immunotherapy.)

Kitty is allergic to grass, trees, flowers, bushes, cats, dogs, horses, bunnies.......basically anything that is alive! The 6 years worth of allergy shots were supposed to desensitize her so she wouldn't have so many symptoms (sneezing, watering eyes, runny nose, asthma attacks). It was also supposed to decrease the amount of allergy medicine that she takes.

No. Such. Luck.

I buy allergy medicine and nose spray by the bulk at the warehouse store!

Now, she has sneezing fits in the shower. She can easily sneeze 20 times or more. Her whole face is red by the time she gets out of the shower.

The weird thing is that she won't have any allergy symptoms, then once she showers, the sneezing will start. And go on, and on, and on. 

I did a Google search of "sneezing after shower" and came across a forum where a lot of people are having the same problem. They all suggest different solutions too. Not so helpful.

Has anyone else had problems with sneezing fits in the shower? If so, did you find anything that works?

It sounds like it's time to call Asthma Doc (again......) 

Friday, April 24, 2015

scientists discover cause of asthma

(shutterstock image)

I just read a story that researchers have discovered the cause of asthma. The article said the researchers are 'incredibly excited'. The researchers are from Cardiff University, Kings College (in the UK) and also the Mayo Clinic in the U.S.

The study was completed in the UK, and researchers were able to identify the calcium-recepting sensor (CaSR). The researchers also found that if they used a certain class of drugs on the CaSR (calcilytics)  they were able to block the sensor. Calcilytics are used now on osteoporosis (for people with brittle bones) but they are finding that is also works for asthma.

They said that they can reduce the calcium level in the cells, which makes them less 'twitchy' - and that is the root cause an asthma attack. 

I am so glad that there are great minds out there researching the cause of asthma, new treatments.......and dare I say some day they may discover a cure for asthma?!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Exercise induced asthma

I keep thinking life will calm down....yeah right! I haven't been able to blog for a while since I have been traveling and have a MAJOR event to plan for work.

It seems like asthma never fails to surprise me. Daughter Kitty is on the high school soccer team which plays in the fall, and hasn't had any problems with asthma (except for once when she had a nasty cold.) 

She is also running track for the school, which is in the spring. Now she is having symptoms of exercise induced asthma. Some people call it exercise induced broncho constriction. (EIB)

These are the symptoms of EIB from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. 

  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Decreased endurance
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Upset stomach
  • Sore throat

 There is also a video on the website featuring Mike Kloser, who is an elite endurance athlete who has won the Eco Challenge 3 times. 

 Son #1 also has EIB. He doesn't usually have problems with asthma - unless he is playing sports. He would come home after playing ultimate frisbee and I would hear him coughing. He would say it started while he was playing frisbee with his buddies. I asked if he used his inhaler and he said no. (You would think they could figure that one out on their own!) Once he used his inhaler, his coughing would stop and he would feel better. (Okay kids, this isn't rocket science. If you are coughing - use your inhaler! It's not that hard to figure out. Sheesh!)

Now it seems like Kitty is also having EIB. But I can't figure out why it doesn't bother her during soccer, but it does now during track. I wonder if it makes a difference because she is playing in the spring. She has horrible allergies and has already completed 6 years worth of allergy shots. (And she STILL sneezes nonstop.)

Another thing I have been thinking about is that with soccer, she may be running in short bursts, and can then rest. In track, she is running the mile. So, it seems like if she exercises for a longer period of time, it is harder on her body (and her lungs.)

Asthma Doc changed her medicine a little, so we'll see if that makes a difference. I told her to make sure she uses her inhaler before she runs. It seemed to help last time.

Just when you think you have asthma figured out, it throws a curve ball.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Breathing problems in man and beast

We drove to visit family for Easter weekend, and they had a sick dog. Earlier in the week, the dog had a fever, the shakes, and was coughing.  Unfortunately, they decided that the dog was going bette and didn't need to go to the vet.

When we arrived, I heard the dog coughing and knew that wasn't right. (I'm used to hearing people cough - since my three kids and I all have asthma.) But it was different hearing a dog cough. I picked him up and could tell he had a fever. 

I decided that we needed to take him to the vet. Of course, it was Saturday - which meant that the only place open was the emergency after hours pet clinic. We joined several other miserable dogs and one very annoyed cat in the waiting room.

We Googled "coughing dog" and Kennel Cough came up as a possible diagnosis. It made sense because he had been at the pet groomer the week before, so he probably picked up the illness there. (Just like when people pick up colds and flu from school and work.)

The vet said the dog did have Kennel Cough and would need an injection. "Ah, Decadron?" I asked the vet. He suddenly stopped and looked at me with the shot needle in his hand- he seemed a little shocked. "I have asthma, as do all three of my kids - and they have been hospitalized 12 times. So, I am VERY familiar with Decadron and Solu-Medrol. " 

My kids would get a steroid shot (Decadron) to reduce the swelling in the lungs. If that didn't work, they would end up in the hospital and get a steroid IV (Solu-Medrol) that would also help to reduce the swelling in the lungs.

 The doctor said yes, this was a steroid shot and that the dog would also need an antibiotic and cough medicine.

I had to laugh, and said to my husband, "this is just like having another kid!" We are once again at the after hours doc, who is caring for our loved one because they are having a hard time breathing.  Only this time our loved one was a dog!

So, when we went back home, it was easy to explain to family the treatment the dog received at the vet and that now we needed to watch him for pneumonia. (That was the cause of the majority of my kid's hospitalizations.) 

It's interesting that people and animals can have the same (or similar) illnesses and have the same treatment plan too. Only, we can't tell the dog to make sure that he covers his mouth when he coughs and that he needs to remember to wash his hands and not touch his face (to avoid the spread of germs!)