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Friday, June 15, 2018

"Stock albutero"l inhalers in schools

(Infographic courtesy of Allergy & Asthma Network) 

What is "stock albuterol?" 

Well, that means schools can "stock" (or store) an albuterol inhaler in school - in case someone has an emergency.

 Shouldn't everyone have their own inhaler? Well, in a perfect world, yes. Inhalers are small and can be easily lost, left at home, or even expire before they are empty.

I have heard many stories of families that can't afford an inhaler, so 3 or 4 kids are sharing one inhaler at school. Or sometimes mom takes the inhaler to work, and if the school nurse calls her, she will take the inhaler to the school for her child to use. They family shares 1 inhaler between mom or dad's office and the school.

I don't know about any of you, but I had moments of panic when I couldn't find my inhaler - even though I KNEW it was in my purse.


This is why there are stock inhalers in schools.


11 states allow schools to stock albuterol inhalers. Is your state one of the lucky states? You can check the graphic up above. The dark blue states are schools that have stock albuterol laws. Yellow states have guidelines.

Looks like my state needs some work!

What about your state? Ask your school nurse, superintendent or your local legislator why your school doesn't allow stock albuterol inhaler for emergencies. 

You can also contact Allergy & Asthma Network. They are based in Virginia and are:

"Allergy & Asthma Network is the leading nonprofit organization whose mission is to end the needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions through outreach, education, advocacy and research."
Allergy & Asthma Network sponsor a Day on Capitol Hill in Washington DC each May. They work tirelessly on laws to protect families and help create new laws for families with allergies and asthma.

I was lucky enough to go to DC and talk to my legislators. It's not that scary, you just share your story of living with allergies and asthma. Many of us have some pretty scary and powerful stories of dealing with allergies or asthma. You can talk to your local or state legislators too.

Allergy & Asthma Network can explain how to talk to your local legislators, PTA, etc and educate them about important issues with allergies and asthma. 


Lend your voice! You can help make a difference!


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Don't forget asthma inhalers when school is out!


(Shutterstock image)

School is out for summer in most states, and that means emptying out the backpack your kids have been carrying around all year (how long has THAT been in there?)
 
As you empty out their backpacks, make sure you check for their asthma inhaler.
 
Some kids will have an inhaler at home and another one at school. Sometimes you can forget about the inhaler at school. 
 
Older kids usually carry their inhalers in their backpacks, but the younger kids might have theirs stored in the teacher's desk.
 
By the way, did you know it's legal in every state in American for kids to carry their inhaler with them at school? American Lung Association says:
 
"Although all 50 states and the District of Columbia have passed a law allowing students to carry and use inhalers at school, some kids are still being denied access to these lifesaving medications during the school day."
 
When my kids were little, I would fill out a permission form at the beginning of every school year and Asthma Specialist would sign it. That would allow them to legally carry their inhaler with them at all times (even though schools are a drug free zone.)
 
Since our family has had LOTS of experience with asthma (it's been 18 years since the 3 kids and I were diagnosed - and we had had 12 hospitalizations for asthma). So, we are very used to inhalers and nebulizers. My kids were responsible enough to carry their inhaler when they were very young. 
 
But other families may find that young kids goof off with inhalers (spray it in their air, let their friends play with it, etc.) So they may have the teacher keep it in his or her desk. 
 
So, do the "end of the year dump"of the backpack and look for your kid's inhaler. If you can't find it, you may have to double check with their teacher or school nurse.
 
Chances are you are going to need that over the summer!   
 
 








Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Asthma Mom is sick, now what?

(Shutterstock image)

Well, as though this year wasn't bad enough, I am sick with bronchitis (again) - 4th time since November.

What's going on? Well, I've been traveling - and airplanes and airports are some of the germiest places you can be.

For anyone who regularly reads my blog, you know that I am a germaphobe. However, my husband (who likes to come along on my work trips if I'm going to a cool city) isn't a germaphobe.

I can easily go through a whole package of antibacterial hand wipes during a 4 day trip. That nasty tray on the airplane? It's getting wiped down before I have my pretzels and Coke!

Think it's not that dirty? CNN has a slide show called "Journeys with Germs" What are the dirtiest things on the airplane?"  You might be surprised!  

Think of everything else you touch - door knobs, elevator buttons, the TV remote in the hotel. 

I use the antibacterial wipes like a mad woman. And follow it up with hand sanitizer.

The Hubby? Not so much. 

Even though I gave him a travel pack of wipes and practically begged him to slip them in his pocket and use them while he was sight seeing.

Did it happen? Nope. 

This is the 4th trip we have had, and this is the 4th time he has become sick from out trip. So he coughs and sneezes and doesn't wash his hands, and then I get sick.

So, what happens when the Mom is sick? Well, it's almost comical - watching my family stumbling around the kitchen, opening cupboards, the fridge and freezer - like a magical meal will just appear! Not while Mom is sick.

They are a little clueless when it comes to Mom being sick. Usually, I check to see if the kids need a cold washcloth for their forehead. Popsicles? Snack? Movie to watch? 

Nobody checks on me when I'm sick.

 So, I just pull the nebulizer out and put it close to me so I can have a breathing treatment while I'm propped up on the couch. I pile up my cough drops, prescription cough medicine, box of tissues and throat lozenges. Then I keep a note pad handy so I can write down what time I have each medicine (so I know when I can have the next dose.) 

I tend to get a little fuzzy headed when I'm sick, so it's better for me to write down when I take my meds so I don't forget any of them or take them at the wrong time.

I can image all of you moms reading this and laughing. Because you get it. Our families can win and complain when they're sick and we take care of them. 

But no one takes care of mom when we are sick.

So good luck to all of the rest of you moms out there! 



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

2018 Spring Allergy Capitals

 (Shutterstock image)

If you are having a miserable time this spring, then join the club! 

Want to know where your city ranks? Are they one of the top 2018 Allergy Capitals?

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) just released their Allergy Capitals Spring 2018. They rank the 100 largest American cities every years.

The Hubby and I and all 3 kids have allergies, and we are miserable all spring and summer. In fact, at 11:30 last night, 2 of my kids were in a panic because they were out of their allergy medicine!
They are NOT going to have a fun day today....

Where does YOUR city rank for allergies?

AAFA says:


"The top five most challenging places to live with spring allergies this year are:"

"1. McAllen, Texas
2. Louisville, Kentucky   
3. Jackson, Mississippi
4. Memphis, Tennessee
5. San Antonio, Texas"
What do they look at when deciding which cities make the list?  

  • Allergy medication usage (we personally keep the warehouse stores in business by buying allergy medicine in bulk!)
  • Pollen and mold counts
  • Availability of board-certified allergists
So, what do you do if you're miserable? Funny thing you should ask! AAFA has a whole list of things that can help:

  • Limit your outdoor activities
  • Keep your windows closed
  • Use central air conditioning with air filtration
  • Wear sunglasses when you are outdoors
  • Wear a hat to cover your hair
  • Take a shower and shampoo your hair before going to bed to remove pollen from your hair and skin
  • Change and wash clothes worn during outdoor activities
  • Dry your laundry in a clothes dryer, not on an outdoor line
  • Limit close contact with pets that spend a lot of time outdoors
  • Wipe pets off with a towel before they enter your home
  • Remove your shoes before entering your home
  • Wash your bedding in hot, soapy water once a week
  • Rinse the inside of your nose with a nasal rinse to flush out and remove pollens you have inhaled into your nasal passages
  • Use a CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® air cleaner (portable or whole house/HVAC)

 If you try all of those things and are still struggling with allergies, you can ask your doc about allergy shots (immunotherapy.)

All 3 of my kids completed 5 years of allergy shots. Their allergies are still there, just not as bad now.

Happy spring - and stock up on tissues! 
 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Advocating for asthma!


Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the Allergy & Asthma Network Asthma Blogger Summit. Thanks Tonya and AAN! Who is Allergy & Asthma Network?


"Allergy & Asthma Network is the leading nonprofit organization whose mission is to end the needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions through outreach, education, advocacy and research."
A big part of what they work on is advocacy. What is advocacy? It's talking to your legislators about important topics for allergies and asthma.

As you can see from the slide, there are several things Allergy & Asthma Network are working on:

  • Safe, effective and affordable medication
  • Affordable and high-quality healthcare and insurance coverage
  • Nurses in all K-12 public schools
  • Appropriate funding for allergy & asthma health and research programs
  • Access to innovative therapies and technologies to advance medical treatment
  • Mitigate environmental health hazards and address climate change
  • End health disparities and move toward greater health equity 
 
I was able to meet with my legislators during Allergy & Asthma Day on Capitol Hill (AADCH). It wasn't as scary as it sounds. I'm not a lobbyist (they are usually paid to meet with ask for people and try to convince members of congress to support their interests.)
 
With advocacy, we talk to our legislators and educate about problems (it's hard for us when the school nurse isn't there to help my child when they have an asthma attack or allergic reaction to a food because the school nurses oversee 5-9 schools, it's important to have stock asthma inhalers in schools to treat students who forget theirs or have an asthma attack for the first time, it would be VERY helpful to have epinephrine autoinjectors in airplane medical kits, etc.) 

Many families go and share stories about how their life is impacted by allergies or asthma. It makes it real for the legislators to see what their constituents are dealing with.
 
In fact, did you know that education and advocacy helped get laws passed in all 50 states that allow kids to carry their asthma inhalers in school? Since schools are drug free zones, students were not able to carry their inhalers with them. Now they can (check with your state, you usually need to fill out a form each school year.)
 
The legislators have so many different problems that they are working on, that it helps when their constituents talk to them and educate them about different issues. I educate about allergies and asthma all day long, every day! They affect my life and my kids. So, it's easy to talk to my legislators. 
 

Want to get involved? You can! Contact Charmayne Anderson at 1-800-878-4403 or CAnderson@AllergyAsthmaNetwork.org.
 
You can help make a difference!  
 
 

 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Ah, spring time and allergies!



It's spring and my nose knows it! You can hear LOTS of sneezing going on at my house right now.

In fact, we buy allergy medicine and tissues in bulk. Hello warehouse club, we are headed your way!

My husband and I passed on our allergies to all 3 kids, so we are all miserable together in the spring and summer. Actually, we are miserable year round with allergies, but spring and summer are the worst. 

And nice mom that I am, I also passed along my asthma to all 3 kids too! So it's fun with allergies AND asthma at our house.

The funny thing about it though is that all of us prefer different medicines to treat our allergies and asthma.

Daughter Kitty likes one allergy pill, while her brothers each like a different brand of pill. And Hubby and I both like different allergy nose sprays. 

It's important that you need to find what's right for you and your body.

We have all had LOTS of visits with Asthma Doc, and he has recommended that each of us try different allergy nose sprays and pills. And he always asks for our feedback. Did it work? Did we like it? Why or why not? If we didn't like it, he would advise us to take a different brand. 

Make sure you talk to YOUR doc before you try a new medicine or change one. Tell him why you like or don't like a certain allergy medicine or nose spray.

Kitty and Son #2 don't like allergy nose spray because they get a bloody nose with it. But Hubby and I both use allergy nose spray and DON'T get bloody noses. 
Go figure.

Asthma Doc has also told us a few other things that we use to help with allergies:

  • Keep the doors and windows closed in the house (this keeps the pollen outside)
  • Keep the windows up in the car and use air conditioning (also keeps the pollen out)
  • Use Central Air instead of Swamp Coolers (Swamp/Evaporative Coolers allow pollen into the home and also increase the humidity level. They can also leak, which can cause mold problems)
  • Remove your shoes when you enter the home (store them in a basket or shelf - this keeps pollen, dirt and grime outside.)
  • Shower before you go to bed at night (this removes the pollen from your hair and skin)
  • Wash your sheets weekly in hot water (so, you shower and have a clean body -  then jump into a clean bed with clean sheets. It helps us sleep MUCH better.)
  • Keep your bedroom window closed at night (letting in the evening breeze will also let in pollen)


If you are doing everything you can to avoid the pollen and other allergies, are taking allergy medicine, but are still miserable, it may be time to talk to your doc about allergy shots (immunotherapy.)

Allergy shots are usually covered by insurance and take 3-5 years to complete. So, you need to be committed to them. Read the link above to see how they work. 

And make sure you ALWAYS wait 30 minutes after allergy shots. They tell you to do that just in case you have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis.)

It can and does happen after allergy shots. All 3 kids had allergy shots, yet only one had anaphylaxis. And believe me - I never want to see that again as long as I live. Talk about scary!

So, find out what's right for you. Allergy pills? Allergy nose spray? Allergy shots?

Talk to your doc so you can find a way to enjoy spring and summer. 

Now pardon me while I go find my box of tissues. 

Achoo!







Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What's a Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C)?


(Shutterstock image)

In every profession, you have titles, licenses and certifications. In the world of asthma, the goal is to be a Certified Asthma Educator (AE-C). 

If you want to learn more about asthma, you want to learn from the best, right?!
That's where an AE-C comes in. An AE-C is a voluntary certification in the U.S., so, those of us that have studied for and passed the exam do it because we want to be known as an expert in the field. (I didn't even get a raise after passing the exam and getting my certification!)

It's not a easy exam (only 65% of people who take the exam actually pass it), and it's not cheap (I paid $350 to take the exam) and it takes about 3 hours. Did I mention that it's not an easy test? There are only about 3,500 AE-C's in the US that have passed the exam (that's not many considering there are over 25 million people here that have asthma! )

 How do you qualify to take the exam? NAECB (The National Asthma Educator Certification Board) says you are eligible IF:



1. You are a licensed or credentialed health care professionals OR

2. You provide professional direct patient asthma education and counseling with a minimum of 1,000 hours experience in these activities. 


NAECB lists the following currently licensed or credentialed health care professionals that qualify for the exam under #1.
Physicians (MD, DO)
Physician Assistants (PA-C)
Nurse Practitioners (NP)
Nurses (RN, LPN)
Respiratory Therapists (RRT, CRT)
Pulmonary Function Technologists (CPFT, RPFT)
Pharmacists (RPh)
Social Workers (CSW)
Health Educators (CHES)
Physical Therapists (PT)
Occupational Therapists (OT)
I fit under category #1, and was able to take (and pass!) the AE-C exam because I am a Health Educator and had a rigorous course study for my 4 year Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree. My classes included: first aid, anatomy and physiology, biology, physical science, behavioral science, epidemiology, human diseases, medical terminology, ethics, health and diversity, environmental health, modifying health behavior, research methods, bio- statistics, etc.

Once I made it through all those classes and graduated in Public Health, I could sit for the CHES exam through NCHEC. (This is also a $300 exam that takes 3 hour and also has a low pass rate.) It also means you are top in the field of Public Health. To maintain my CHES, I must re-certify with 75 continuing education (CE) credit hours over a 5 year period. I have to keep my CHES credential current to keep my AE-C current. With the AE-C credential, you need 35 hours of CE credits over 5 years. So that's 110 hours of CE credits.....every 5 years.

What does all this mean?

It means that anyone who takes the test must have at least a bachelors degree and some pretty intense classes in hard science, health, and medical field. 

AND once you pass it, you must continue to learn more by attending webinars from Allergy & Asthma Network , the EPA, state health department asthma programs, etc. This helps us learn more about the latest research, medications, changes to the guidelines, and much more.

I also attend the National Association of Asthma Educators conference.

It means learning, and then learning some more.

And I'm suddenly feeling tired that I have done so much!

So, if you are lucky enough to work with a Certified Asthma Educator, know that they are highly educated and trained, and must continue to learn more and stay updated so they can share that information with their clients.

And with that, I am going to take a nap.  I am tired.