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Monday, April 17, 2017

And so begins allergy season....

So, these are a FEW of the medications floating around my house. (Kind of sad, I know.....)

These are only our allergy meds, I didn't include any of our asthma medications. 

The reason I took this photo is to show that there isn't a one - size - fits - all treatment for any medical problem. Hubby & I and all 3 kids have allergies and we all treat them differently. Some of us take pills (name brand or generic), some of us like nose sprays (also name brand or generic).

My kids allergies are worse than mine, they all had to have 5 year's worth of allergy shots.

Allergy shots can help when you are on high doses of allergy medicine and still not finding relief. Before she started allergy shots, daughter Kitty could easily sneeze 30 times in a row (every day, all day long), even while taking allergy medicine. 

So, Asthma Doc tested her for allergies and found out she is allergic to everything (trees, flowers, bushes, grass, cats, dogs, horses, etc.) The only thing she wasn't allergic to was rats. Shot Nurse said we could get a pet rat!  

Yeah, funny....(insert eye roll here)

So, after 5 year's worth of allergy shots, Kitty can now manage allergies with allergy medicine.(Some people may not need allergy medicine after allergy shots, but she still does.)

Everyone is different. 

Some people like allergy pills, some like nose sprays.

And with pills and nose sprays, some people feel the name brand works best, while others are okay with the generic version.

In an interview with Huffington Post,  C. Michael White, Pharm.D., Professor and Head, Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Connecticut said:

“Some patients will tolerate a brand name medication but when they switch medications, they simply do not do as well. The reason may be that that while the blood concentrations of the brand name medication are very similar, what the tablets are made out of can vary. So while the average patient does as well, not everyone will. If you are that outlier, you are better off on the branded medication or another generic. I usually recommend trying two generic versions before giving up and moving back to a brand name drug because again, the costs are much cheaper." 

My daughter is one of those "outliers" that does better on the name brand. But both of my sons use generic versions of allergy medicine. Go figure.

You may have to try a few brands of pills or nose spray and see what works best on you.

Pretty soon, you too can have a pile of allergy medicine like the photo above! 

Even if the trees and flowers cause me endless allergy misery, they really are pretty! And they smell amazing!

I try to always look on the bright side of things!


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

RECALL on Ventolin inhalers

I just saw another recall, this one for an Albuterol inhaler, Ventolin.

If you're not sure what your rescue inhaler is called (most people just go by the color), Ventolin is the greyish- blue one just above the word "asthma" in the photo.

If you have one of those, check the lot and date for a recall.

"GSK Plc. is voluntarily recalling more than 593,000 Ventolin asthma inhalers from U.S. hospitals, pharmacies, retailers and wholesalers due to a defect that may cause them to deliver fewer doses of the medicine than indicated, the British drugmaker said on Tuesday."

The FDA (Federal Drug Administration) has a link with the specifics of the recall. 

Code Information:
Lot #: 6ZP9848
Exp 03/18

6ZP0003, 6ZP9944,
Exp 04/18
If your inhaler falls under that lot # or expiration date, call your pharmacy or doctor. You will want to make sure you get a replacement as soon as possible!

You don't EVER want to be without rescue medication. Ironically enough, I am having a hard time typing this because I just used my nebulizer for a breathing treatment and my hands are REALLY shaky.

Asthma can be sooooo much fun!

 Good luck and keep breathing my friends!

Monday, April 3, 2017

RECALL on Epi Pens!

If you use an Epi Pen for yourself or your kids, check your lot number because there is a recall on 13 lots of Epi Pens. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said :

"This recall is due to the potential that these devices may contain a defective part that may result in the devices’ failure to activate."

"While the number of reported failures is small, EpiPen products that potentially contain a defective part are being recalled because of the potential for life-threatening risk if a severe allergic reaction goes untreated."
 So, how do you know if your Epi Pen is defective? The FDA says that those purchased from December 17, 2015 - July 1, 2016 could have a possible defect.

You can check the FDA's website for the dates and lot numbers on your Epi Pen.

For those of you with food allergies, you know how scary it can be to think that your Epi Pen might not work! I am allergic to seafood and Son #2 is allergic to all tree nuts. We are always watching for foods that may cause us to have anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction.)

In fact, we were at a family dinner last night and there was a delicious looking dessert. Family assured us that it was okay for Son #2 to eat, because there were only nuts on half of the dessert. Unfortunately, that means the ENTIRE dessert is contaminated. I love family, but since they don't have food allergies, they don't understand cross contamination 

Since Son #2 and I both had accidental exposures last fall, we are REALLY nervous. Both of our reactions were mild, but new antibodies were formed. Which means the next exposure could be much more serious! Cleveland Clinic explains the science behind this:

"IgE antibodies are generated against food allergens after exposure through the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, or nonintact skin. The clinical manifestations depend upon the characteristics of the offending proteins, the genetic susceptibility of the person, and the route of sensitization. Food allergy is more common in patients who have other allergic conditions, such as atopic dermatitis and allergic rhinitis, and who have a family history of atopy."

 So, we will keep inspecting all the food we eat. We're not afraid to ask the restaurant, caterer, friend, or family member what's in the recipe. 

Our life depends on it!

One final warning from FDA:

"As stated on the product label, consumers should always seek emergency medical help right away after using their EpiPens, particularly if the device did not activate."

Monday, March 27, 2017

"Oh, is she a Dripper?"

You know, I've never heard of my daughter called that before, but.....okaaaaaaay. Apparently Instacare Doc didn't mean that in a BAD way.

We were at Instacare last fall because we were on vacation and didn't pack our nebulizer. It was a short 3 day trip to grandma's and my teenage daughter Kitty had packed her albuterol inhaler, so I wasn't too worried. 

But Kitty had a cold and we had a major change in elevation. Those two things combine must have made her feel that her albuterol inhaler just wasn't helping. 

So, Mean Mom that I am, I dragged her to the Instacare.

Instacare Doc could tell that she needed a breathing treatment and I sheepishly admitted that we hadn't packed our nebulizer and that's why we were there.

She was really nice about it and assured me that I wasn't a bad parent. She went off to get the nebulizer and brought one back with the canister and mouthpiece.


Sometimes people drip (or slobber) when they use a mouthpiece with the nebulizer. You can really taste the medication with the mouthpiece - it's sort of salty, which of course make your mouth salivate (or slobber/drip) a little bit. 

When Instacare Doc came back to check on Kitty, she could see that Kitty had wrapped a pile of tissues around the base of the canister kit. She said, "Oh - is she a Dripper?"

Never thought of it that way, but yes.

I should have told Instacare Doc when she first went to get the nebulizer that Kitty HATES the mouthpiece. She would much rather use the mask. But Instacare Doc was busy and I didn't want to bother her to hunt down a mask.

These is what we use at home. The big nebulizer is 17 years old, and the smaller one is new. Instacare Doc had home health care deliver a nebulizer to grandma's house so we didn't have to keep going back to the Instacare every 4 hours for a breathing treatment.

You can see a mask on each nebulizer. The mask on the smaller nebulizer is just like the mask you use when you get oxygen at the hospital. The one on the right is also works as an oxygen mask, but it's shaped like a dinosaur. We still have it from when the kids were little!  Some kids like the dinosaur shape because it's not so scary. I think we have one shaped like a fish somewhere too.

If you or your kids are using a nebulizer, you can try different options to see what you like. I'm not a big fan of the mouthpiece either, it is salty and I do drip. I would rather use a mask.

If your kids don't like using the nebulizer, that could be a reason why. Try a couple of different masks or a mouthpiece and see what they like best.

After all, who want to be called a Dripper?!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Stress in kids CAUSES asthma?!

(Shutterstock image)

Ever the science nerd, I love learning about new things. In fact, when my kids see me watching Frontline or another show on PBS, they say, "Looks like Mom is on Nerd Watch again."

I'll take that as a compliment!

My colleague is an epidemiologist in an asthma program and sent a link to a video from PBS News Hour.

The video talks about how stressful childhood experiences can actually CAUSE asthma.

Now, I knew that stress could cause (or trigger) an asthma attack 

But I didn't realize that stress could actually cause kids to develop asthma in the first place!

Experts at the National Institutes of Health say, 

"The exact cause of asthma isn't known. Researchers think some genetic and environmental factors interact to cause asthma, most often early in life."
 In our case, it's genetic. It runs on both sides of the family. I have allergies and asthma, as do all 3 of our kids. Many family members on Hubby's side of the family also have allergies and asthma.

The video is only 8 minutes, it's worth watching the PBS News Hour video, "Can stress trigger asthma in children?" 

It's sad to see the stress that these poor little kids are under. (Grab a tissue when you watch the video!) Some are homeless and others have witnessed trauma. The description of the videos says:

"Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found about 2 of every 3 Motor City children face “adverse childhood experiences,” such as household substance abuse, exposure to violence and extreme economic hardship that can trigger asthma."

The video says that too much stress can cause your cortisol and adrenaline glands to kick in to high gear. It also says that when your body is in overdrive like that, it can cause a variety of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, asthma and diabetes.
It sounds hopeless, but there are people trying to make a difference! The Henry Ford Health System has 2 mobile clinics (bright blue buses) that go into the neighborhood and offer health care through the Children's Health Project of Detroit. They also have school based health centers. 

After all, if the kids are living in poverty and experiencing trauma, they may not be able to have a car or money to go see the doctor. So, the doctors and nurses come to them!

It's worth your time to watch the video. I feel sad for all the kids in the video but I am glad that there are people out there trying to help them.

Although I already have asthma, stress can sometimes be a trigger for my asthma attacks. Today is one of those days at work. Guess I better eat some chocolate and do some deep breathing!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Be Kind to the hospital staff!

(Shutterstock image)

Having a child in the hospital can really rock your world. I should know - my kids were hospitalized 12 times when they were younger (including 2 times in ICU when my son almost died.)

It seems like my kids were ALWAYS sick when they were little. They would wake up with a runny nose and I would think, "Oh we go again!" Their runny nose would quickly turn into a nasty cough that required many breathing treatments with the nebulizer.

 And of course, the kids would always get worse at night! After carefully watching them for hours, there would come a point where we knew we were in over our heads and needed medical help. By then, we were sleep deprived parents driving one of the kids to the Emergency Department while Fabulous Neighbor stayed at home with the other kids.

(You can learn the warning signs of "When to Go to the ER if Your Child Has Asthma" from Nemour's hospital.)  

I have a hard time when I don't get enough sleep and I am very worried about my child not breathing well.

But, I was always kind to the hospital staff. After all, they are there to help us! 

Many families are scared and take it out on the hospital staff, yelling at them, being rude, etc.

A new study from The New York Times called "What Happens When Parents Are Rude in the Hospital" is a real eye - opener!

According to the article, if you are rude to the hospital staff, it can affect how your child is treated. And cause the hospital staff to make more mistakes. 

In the article, they had a "simulated crisis scenario" in a NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) with rude "parents" (actors) worried about their baby (a plastic life like baby).  When the parent actors said something rude or unpleasant to the medical staff, they found:

"But even such mild unpleasantness was enough to affect doctors’ and nurses’ medical skills. Individual performance and teamwork deteriorated to the point where diagnostic skills, procedural skills and team communication were impaired and medical errors were more likely, compared to control scenarios in which the mother would just say something general about being worried. The team’s ability to perform in critical medical situations with sick babies was affected for the rest of the day, the findings suggest."

Woah! That's the last thing I want is for someone to make mistakes while they are caring for my child in the hospital! These doctors, nurses, respiratory therapist and CNA's are part of my team! I want to their help and I want to work with them. Part of being a team means treating everyone well and with respect. 

It's okay to disagree. I know the pattern my children follow with their asthma, and I know when they are getting worse. I have disagreed a few times with doctors who weren't listening to me. I would try to tell them that my son with severe asthma has a habit of "dropping" his oxygen levels - FAST! 

When the doctor came skidding into my son's room in the ER with wide eyes and a look of shock on his face, I would politely say, "This is what I trying to tell you would happen."  

Advocate for your child. You know your children better than anyone else and what typically happens with their asthma. As part of the team, you can KINDLY share that with the hospital staff. Be a good team player so you can all work together to make help your child get better. (Even if you are scared, worried, and have a horrible headache from lack of sleep.) 

Together, you can do great things for your child!

And remember the line from the live action Cinderella movie, "Have Courage and Be Kind." 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New medication for kids with uncontrolled asthma

These are a few of our "empties", not THOSE kind of empties! 

No beer bottles here!

These are some of the controller inhalers/discs we have used over the years. Controller medication is what you take EVERY day for your asthma to keep the swelling down in your lungs. It's important that you take it every day - whether you feel sick or not.

There are four in my family with asthma (myself and my 3 kiddos - 2 of whom are now grown.) All of us have different struggles with trying to control our asthma over the years.

So, we have tried almost every asthma medication that is on the market. In fact, when we saw a TV commercial for an asthma medicine, I asked daughter Kitty, "Hey - you had that one once, didn't you?" She didn't even look up from her homework, but said dryly "Yep, if they make it, I've tried it."

I always like to keep my eye open for anything new, so I follow the Allergy & Asthma Network Facebook page. Last week, they posted an article from Medscape that said "FDA Ok's Symbicort for Uncontrolled Asthma in Kids 6 to 12."

Symbicort (the bright red inhaler above with the grey cap) has been around for a while, but was only used for those 12 and older. A new study has shown that it can safely be used in kids 6-12.

I love my Asthma Doc because he is willing to try different medications, different doses, etc to find one that we feel controls our asthma. 

How do you know if your asthma is in control? GSK has an Asthma Control TestTM for those 12 and older. This is the Asthma Control Test for 4-11 year olds.

If your child's asthma is not in control, talk to your doc to see if they want your child to change a dose/try a new inhaler.

Life is short! Let's keep those lungs working!