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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Holidays and asthma

This time of year can be stressful if you have allergies and asthma. 

If you are traveling to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving (or another family member's house) - you may worry about all sorts of things. 
  • Can you make your flight?
  • How long is the drive?
  • What is grandma's house like? (or wherever else you are going)
  • Are there cats there?
  • Dogs?
  • Is it dusty? (when is the last time the guest bedroom was vacuumed?)
  • Are there going to be other people there - like kids with runny noses and coughs?
  • Will someone make a dish for dinner that has tree nuts? (Even though you have told them MANY times that your son is allergic to nuts?) 

There are some things you can't control - like weather for flying or driving. Or if someone gets sick. 

Holidays are always an adventure!
When we travel for Thanksgiving (or any other holiday) we plan ahead. We always pack maintenance medications (Be sure to check the counter on your inhaler to see how many puffs are left. I ended up out of town for a conference and realized my inhaler didn't "feel" right. It sounded like it was working, but when I looked at the counter on the canister, it showed 0 puffs left. Oops!!)

We also pack rescue inhalers AND the nebulizer/tubing kit/canister. I also bring our oximeter.    

"Just in case, " we find out:
  • Where is the closest Emergency Department?
  • Closest pharmacy?
You never know if you might need a breathing treatment, trip to the Emergency Department, refill on a medication, etc. So, we try to plan ahead, it makes me feel safer knowing I have all of our medications and know where to go if one of gets sick or has an accident. 

What's the old saying? Prepare for the worst and hope for the best?

On that note, Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Asthma and emotions

Like many of you, I watched the news of the attacks in Paris with my heart in my throat. 

Previously, Hubby and I had spent our 25th anniversary in Paris. We LOVE Paris, it is such a beautiful place! 

And then we watched the news reports. My emotions were a mess - first shock and horror, then love for the people of Paris who offered help to the innocent people caught in the cross fire. 

The hashtag #portouverte (or #opendoor) was trending on Twitter. 

The people of Paris were opening their doors to scared and injured tourists. They fed and clothed the tourists and provided a place for them to sleep and feel safe.

According to Mayo Clinic, the following can cause (or trigger) an asthma attack:

  • Airborne allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, mold, cockroaches and dust mites
  • Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
  • Physical activity (exercise-induced asthma)
  • Cold air
  • Air pollutants and irritants, such as smoke
  • Certain medications, including beta blockers, aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve)
  • Strong emotions and stress
  • Sulfites and preservatives added to some types of foods and beverages, including shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes, beer and wine
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which stomach acids back up into your throat

So, what do you do if you are faced with any of these asthma triggers, including stress and strong emotions?

Allergy & Asthma Network shared an article last week on their Facebook page. The article is from American Academy of Pediatrics and is called "Talking to Children About Disasters."  

The article has ideas to talk with young children and older children. And ways that parents can help kids cope with disasters. I'm going to use some of the ideas to talk to my kids. 

Until then, I will look through my pictures of Paris and remember the beautiful architecture, fabulous food and loving people of Paris. 


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New medicine for severe asthma (Nucala)

For those of you who have asthma (or kids with asthma) you know that all asthma is NOT created equal. Son #2 had severe asthma, and had 8 hospitalizations (2 of those were close calls.....they had the "crash" cart parked outside his room!!)

He is one of the 10% of people with asthma who have severe asthma. He didn't seem to do well on asthma medicine. He took multiple medicines every day to try to control his allergy and asthma (and had 5 years of allergy shots). When he would get sick, he would take steroids (pills and shots) and STILL end up in the hospital. Sigh. It was a tough time for our family.

Asthma Doc started our son on Xolair injections. For our son,  it was the only thing that seemed to work to keep him out of the hospital. 

There is another option now for people who have severe asthma. GSK has a new medicine that was just approved by the FDA  

The FDA says: "Nucala reduces severe asthma attacks by reducing the levels of blood eosinophils- a type of white blood cell that contributes to the development of asthma."

They also say: "Compared with placebo, patients with severe asthma receiving Nucala had fewer exacerbations requiring hospitalization and/or emergency department visits, and a longer time to the first exacerbation. In addition, patients with severe asthma receiving Nucala experienced greater reductions in their daily maintenance oral corticosteroid dose, while maintaining asthma control compared with patients receiving placebo."  

Like Xolair, Nucala is a shot given once a month in a doctor's office. 

When my son was on Xolair injections, we had to fill out extra paperwork to get the insurance to cover the shots. Luckily, they did. I'm not sure what it will be like for Nucala. 

If you have severe asthma, ask your doctor which medicine is best for you. It seems like everyone is a little different when it comes to what asthma medicine works best. Sometimes insurance will only cover a certain medicine, so may have to work that out with your doctor and insurance company.

Anyway, just another option for treating asthma so we can be the best we can be!! :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Auvi-Q recall

This is a short post today!

CBS News had a story about a recall of the Auvi-Q injectors. 

 They are being recalled because they may not give you the right amount of medication if you have an allergic reaction.

The story says there are about 200,000 people in the U.S. that have the Auvi-Q. There were about 26 people that reported problems with the injectors, so they are recalling ALL of them. (Hey - better to be on the safe side, right?!)

So what do you do if you have an Auvi-Q? The CBS story says:

"Consumers can call 1-866-726-6340 or visit the product's website for information on how to return the injector. They should also contact their health provider to get a prescription for an alternate device."
However, if you have one of those injectors, they want you to get a replacement FIRST before you give them your recalled Auvi-Q. (You don't want to be without epinephrine......just in case you have an allergic reaction.)
"As this is a life-saving device, it is important that consumers understand not only to return the recalled device, but to get a replacement epinephrine auto-injector first," said a company spokeswoman in an emailed statement."
 Good luck to all! :)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Time for flu shots!

It's that time of year again - flu season. It can start now and last through spring.  

Anytime I am around someone who is sneezing or coughing, I back away.........I don't want to catch it! Any cold or flu is always worse when you have asthma. 

CDC estimates that 226,000 people are hospitalized every year thanks to influenza (the flu.)  3,000 - 49,000 people DIE every year from complications of the flu. Yikes!

Complications can be pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections. When my kids were little, they were hospitalized 12 times for asthma - and almost all of those were because they started with a cold or flu and ended up with pneumonia. It's scary stuff to watch your child struggling to breathe. 

I also have asthma and have had pneumonia numerous times, so I know what it feels like. For me, it feels like I was hit by a truck. I get a fever and chills and my body hurts all over, and I am so weak that I can't eat or drink. It's also a big job to try to just breathe in and out. I really have to concentrate on that. 

Once, I was so sick and coughing so hard that I pulled a muscle in my rib cage! You can search online and find many people who share their experiences. It is awful. When I get pneumonia, I have a hard cough that hurts my chest, but then I would also get a sharp pain in my side every time I coughed from the pulled muscle. It was miserable stuff. :(  

Talk to your doctor about getting a flu shot. CDC recommends everyone over 6 months of age should get a flu shot every year. 

My insurance pays for any immunization, so for me, it will only cost a little time. Many pharmacies chains also give flu shots. So I can get a flu shot while I am picking up bandages, heart burn medicine, etc.  

Nobody likes to get shots, but if you get a flu shot now, it could protect you from a miserable case of the flu later.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Teal pumpkin project

Teal Pumpkin Project™ "The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE)."

I blogged about the Teal Pumpkin project last year. It was a new idea to let kids with food allergies be able to Trick or Treat on Halloween!

How? If there is a teal pumpkin on the front porch, or a Teal Pumpkin sign on the lawn (or front of the house), that lets parents know that are non-food treats at that home.

The kids could score some really cool stuff - like bubbles, glow sticks, small toys, stickers, etc. So, they can still Trick or Treat, but instead of worrying about food allergies, they can get some really cool stuff! 

If you have a child with food allergies, you know how hard it is to always have to check food labels. If there is a candy bar with tree nuts (Almond Joy) in a big bowl of candy, can my son eat any of the candy in the bowl? For us, the answer is no. Because it has been cross - contaminated. 

You can avoid worrying about candy and food allergies and go to houses that are supporting the Teal Pumpkin Project. You can also buy something for kids with food allergies that come to your house. If you want to help, you can also print off free posters from FARE. There are several different small posters in English and Spanish. Here is one example:

They are free and easy to print out. You can put one in your front window or glue it to cardboard, tape it to a stick and put it in the lawn.

What a great idea!!  Now I just need to figure out a costume for this year!

Monday, October 12, 2015

What I wish people knew about asthma....

(Shutterstock image)

I saw a story on abc NEWS about Kyle Schwartz, who is an elementary teacher at Doull Elementary school in Denver. She wanted to get to know her students better, so she had an assignment for them. They had to finish the sentence, 

"I wish my teacher knew ____________"

She was surprised at the what the kids wrote. Things such as:

 "I wish my teacher knew that I don't have any pencils at home to do my homework"

"I wish my teacher knew that my reading log is not signed because my mom is not around a lot."

She started a hash tag #IWISHMYTEACHERKNEW  If you watch the video in the link above, make sure you have some tissues handy, it tugs at your heart strings!

Her idea went viral, there were so many people who LOVED what she was doing! Others have copied her idea. 

It made me think - what do I want people to know about asthma?

Everyone with asthma has a different story to tell. So, tell me yours! My sentence has a little different wording than the one Kyle Schwartz started, but is the same idea. 

Leave a comment below and let me know: 

"What I wish people knew about asthma....."