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Monday, March 18, 2019

Ouch! Rib pain from coughing!

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Did you know that you can hurt your ribs (or the muscles attached to your ribs) when coughing? 

Recently, a friend contact me who had injured her ribs coughing. She was in a LOT of pain.

I feel for her - because I did the same thing 2 years ago. I had a nasty case of bronchitis and I was coughing pretty hard. You know the kind of coughing - where you cough so hard you feel like you are going to throw up?  

Suddenly, I had a sharp pain in my side. And I knew instantly that I had pulled a muscle attached to my ribs.  

I called my doctor, because I wanted to see if I was okay. Once at his office, he said it was probably a pulled muscle, and it was just going to take time to heal. 

He had me take an over the counter pain killer, and use an ice pack for the first few days ( to control swelling). Then he had me switch to a heating pad (to relax the muscles.)

 I also found that a little counter pressure helped too (gently pushing in on my ribs with a pillow while I coughed.)

Speaking of coughing - doctors usually WANT you to cough to clear the gunk out of your lungs. But he knew that if it hurt to breathe (or cough), that I would take shallow breaths. That could lead to an infection in my lungs (possibly pneumonia.) 

So he gave me a prescription cough medicine (bless him!) to help control my cough. 

Another reason to call your doctor is to see how bad you pulled a muscle. Did you know they have different levels of strains?

Grade 1 may take 2-3 weeks to heal.

Grade 2 may mean significant loss of motion and 2-3 months to recover.   

Grade 3 means you tore a muscle and may need surgery :(

So, if you hurt your ribs from coughing, I'm so sorry - I feel for you! But maybe this information will help? 

Your doctor will know what's best for you. So she should be your first call. 

Good luck!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Humming for sinuses?



Some of you may be wondering, what are sinuses? Well, they are small hollow holes inside your skull that surround the nose and are lined with tissue. If you want to see a photo, you can check out this link.  

Those pesky little sinuses have a habit of getting swollen, filled with mucus, and infected.

If  you have had a sinus infection, you know how painful it can be. You may have pain on either side of your nose, between your eyes, in your forehead or even in your upper teeth and jaw. How's that for fun?

If you have allergies and asthma, you are more likely to have a sinus infection

Your doctor may give you an antibiotic to help with the infection.

Some people swear by using a Neti Pot. It's fun - like jumping into a swimming pool and forgetting to plug your nose.

Asthma Doc let us know our options, but also mentioned humming. He said he learned about it at a national allergy, asthma and immunology conference.

Sounds weird, I know! But we decide to try it since my daughter had just finished a course of antibiotics for pneumonia and I didn't want her to do another round.

So, we hummed. In the car, while she was playing, in the bathtub.

How can that possibly work? Researchers in Sweden found that increasing air flow and ventilation in the nose helped the sinuses stay healthy.

They measured exhaled nitric oxide (NO) coming out of the nose and found that by humming, air flow increased by 15 times!

Sounds crazy, but apparently it works! Some researchers also recommend humming each day to maintain the sinus health.

Worth a shot, right? 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Preschools and asthma?

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I just read an article about a group of moms who live just south of Seattle. They were on a mission to educate preschools how to be allergy & asthma friendly.

Great job ladies!

Preschools have a lot to worry about - kids with runny noses, potty accidents, kids fighting with each other, choking hazards, etc. 

They do a great job with those busy little kiddos!

But, most preschools I have worked with were also willing to learn how to make the preschool allergy and asthma friendly.

The moms from the Seattle area had a few things for preschools to watch for:


These sneaky little bugs are rarely seen, but can leave behind body parts, saliva and feces - all of which can cause allergies (and asthma attacks) for kids

Slow leaks can cause mold over time. A few tips from Allergy & Asthma Foundation include improving air flow, use exhaust fans, use a dehumidifier and central air, fix leaks and make sure rain spouts drain AWAY from the preschool  

Dusty blankets and bears

Dust mites can be found everywhere except Antarctica! They love places that are warm and humid and cause an allergic reaction. Dust is also an irritant, so even if you aren't allergic to dust mites, the dust can still get into your nose and lungs and cause wheezing and sneezing. 
Strong smelling cleaners 

Everyone likes a clean room, but sometimes cleaners can do more damage than good. Their fumes can cause asthma attacks. I listened to a webinar recently where the expert in air quality said "Clean Has No Smell" (meaning you shouldn't go into a home or school and smell bleach or other cleaners)

Lack of fresh air 

Buildings are like lungs - they need fresh air in to come in and dirty air to go out. It's important for everyone - especially little kids with tiny sensitive lungs.

Scented candles

Air fresheners and scented candles may make your house smell sweet, but they can release VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds) that can cause asthma attacks.
So hats off to the Seattle area  moms who are helping preschools be more allergy and asthma friendly!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Food allergies as an adult

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Most of the time, you hear about kids with food allergies. But The Today Show had a story with Dr. Azar about adults suddenly developing food allergies. 

This is something I can relate to because I suddenly developed a seafood allergy as an adult.

When I told a family member about that, he said, "No way. I remember you used to eat tuna sandwiches when we were kids!" 

I told him, "Well, I can't anymore!" He refused to believe that I could suddenly be allergic to  seafood. I told him that you can develop food allergies at any time.

I am in good company - I am one of 26 million adult Americans with a food allergy. And 50% developed food allergies after age 18. I am in that group that developed a food allergy as an adult.

The Today story said that there are 3 main foods that adults can suddenly become allergic to. They are:

Which is exactly what I am dealing with, I am allergic to ALL seafood (shellfish, salmon -  you name it. If it's been in the sea, it can kill me.)

How do you know if you could suddenly develop a food allergy? Dr. Azar says:

"So if you have asthma, eczema, hay fever, you are more likely to develop food allergies as an adult,” 

Bingo! I have all 3! Lucky Me! 

So, what would does an allergic reaction to food look like? The Today show lists:

Common food allergy symptoms, include:

  • Hives
  • Rashes
  • Swollen lips
  • Tightening throat
  • Struggling to breathe
  • Chest tightness
  • Faintness
  • Repeated vomiting
What to you do if you are having a reaction? FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) recommends:

  • Administer epinephrine (using the individual’s easy-to-use epinephrine auto-injector)  and call 911 for any of the following severe symptoms:
    • Lung: shortness of breath, wheezing, repetitive cough
    • Heart: pale, blue, faint, weak pulse, dizzy
    • Throat: tight, hoarse, trouble breathing/swallowing
    • Mouth: significant swelling of the tongue and/or lips
    • Skin:  many hives over body, widespread redness
    • Gut: repetitive vomiting or severe diarrhea
    • Other: feeling something bad is about to happen, anxiety confusion
    • Or a combination of mild or severe symptoms from different body areas
  • Antihistamines may be given, if recommended by a physician, for a single mild symptom, such as:
    • Nose: itchy/runny nose, sneezing
    • Mouth: itchy mouth
    • Skin: a few hives, mild itch
    • Gut: mild nausea/discomfort
    • If these symptoms worsen, give epinephrine.
    FARE also says:
  • "Epinephrine is a safe and relatively harmless drug, and allergists advise that if you have any doubt about whether to use epinephrine, you should go ahead and use it. Your allergist may prefer that epinephrine be used before symptoms or with only mild symptoms if a food allergen was eaten."

    "It’s important to note that this lifesaving drug should be given first, followed by a call to 911. We also advise that you let dispatchers know that you are giving epinephrine and that you are requesting an ambulance with epinephrine."

    "Again, when in doubt, give epinephrine! This is critically important. You could save a life."

    Good advice from FARE!
    So, do you need to stress out each time you eat a meal? No, but knowledge is power! 

    If you are in the category of being higher risk (having asthma, eczema and hay fever), just be aware of the common foods you could suddenly develop a food allergy to, and know the signs of an allergic reaction listed above.

Friday, February 15, 2019 son actually listened?

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If you are a parent, you know how it feels some time - you wonder if your kids are actually listening to anything you say.

Now that my 3 children are all college age and they are on their own, I am not as much a part of their life.

So, I was surprised the other day when Son #2 told me he had set a doctor's appointment because he wasn't feeling like he should after his bout with bronchitis.

He wasn't sure if he was getting sick again, or if he didn't recover from his bronchitis a few weeks ago.  

But he knew. He knew something was wrong. He knew his lungs didn't good and the pain in his lungs "just wasn't right."

I have to tell you I had mixed emotions - of course worried (like all moms) that something was wrong with his lungs, but surprised and proud that he recognized it and was headed to the doctor to see what was going on.

On his own. Without me. 

He HAD been listening to me over the years and knew something was wrong with his lungs and it was time to take action.

So, he's on antibiotic number 2, and a refill on albuterol vials for the nebulizer. But - he did it himself. 

He's adulting! 

And succesful.

Happy Asthma Mom moment! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Asthma attacks from 2nd hand smoke from vaping

This infographic is from Allergy & Asthma Network, and shows the effects of smoking on asthma. It seems like most people know the connection with asthma and smoking cigarettes. Like the quote in the poster that says:

 "Kids with asthma who are exposed to second hand smoke at home = 2x more likely to be hospitalized due to asthma flare"

But - what about vaping? Also called e-cigarettes, Cigalikes, Vape Pens, Ego Cigarettes, Mods, E-Hookah, Shisha Pens or  electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS).

Some people claim ENDS help them "quit smoking". I know someone who switched from cigarettes to vaping to help them quit smoking. That was years ago - they are still vaping....... 

I avoid smokers - because I don't smoke and don't want to smell like I'm a smoker. And - it will trigger an asthma attack for me. 

I just read a study from CHES Journal (Official Publication of the American College of Chest Physicians) It shows that the smoke (that some claim is harmless) from vaping DOES cause asthma attacks for some that are exposed.

Under the Results sections, it says: 

"Overall, 21% of youth with asthma reported having an asthma attack in the past 12 months, and 33% reported secondhand ENDS aerosol exposure. Secondhand ENDS aerosol exposure was associated with higher odds of reporting an asthma attack in the past 12 months...."
 Yep, you read that right. 

1/3 of youth asthma attacks caused by someone who was vaping near them.


That's a lot of asthma attacks by youth who are suffering because someone around them is vaping!

If you have kids, talk to them about how to avoid being around someone who is vaping. Lots of kids sneak their e-cigs into class, so it can be hard when you are stuck in a classroom by someone who is vaping. (Don't think that happens in schools? Ask your kids!)

They can also be around people vaping at a friend's house, at work, a family party, etc.

And - let's face it - peer pressure means sometimes kids will stay in a situation because they don't know how to get out of it. Or they want to hang out with the "cool crowd."

This is a tough conversation to have with kids, but it's better than them having an asthma attack while someone was vaping near them!  

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

"Use this inhaler in an emergency"

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I was talking to someone the other day, and they just had their doctor prescribe an inhaler "for an emergency."

The wording "emergency" really bothers me because people think they have to be gasping for air before they use their inhaler. I wish Doctors wouldn't call it that!

Most doctors are moving away from "emergency inhaler" and instead using the term "reliever or rescue inhaler".

It's surprising to me how many people won't use their Albuterol inhaler because they think "it's not an emergency......."

In a perfect world, you would have an Asthma Action Plan (AAP) that TELLS you when you use your reliever inhaler. American Lung Association has an AAP that says if you have:
Some problems breathing:
  Cough, wheeze, or chest tight 
 Problems working or playing 
 Wake at night
Peak Flow Meter
Between 50% - 79% of your personal best

Use: Albuterol/levalbuterol _____ puffs, every 4 hours as needed

(Use how many puffs of your reliever that your doctor prescribes.) For me, I usually take 2 puffs of my reliever inhaler and I'll feel better in a few minutes.

I don't wait and hope it feels better! My symptoms will usually start with a little twitch or tickle in my throat, then move on to a cough. I try to use my inhaler at the first sign of an asthma attack. If I wait, it will be worse, and I'll start coughing so hard I'll feel like I'm going to throw up. And I'll be gasping for air and will need to use my Albuterol in a nebulizer. 

There are times when asthma can be an emergency. Mayo Clinic says:

When to see a doctor

Seek emergency treatment
Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening. Work with your doctor to determine what to do when your signs and symptoms worsen — and when you need emergency treatment. Signs of an asthma emergency include:
  • Rapid worsening of shortness of breath or wheezing
  • No improvement even after using a quick-relief inhaler, such as albuterol
  • Shortness of breath when you are doing minimal physical activity
Talk to your doctor and see when he wants you to use your inhaler or go to the Emergency Room for treatment. Get to know your asthma and what's right for you!