Copyright 2014. All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 15, 2014

September Epidemic??

Yes, I am ALWAYS reading...anything and everything. The latest article I read was in Family Circle magazine's September issue. It's called "The September Epidemic." The website version is called "Everything You Need to Know About Asthma"

In the article, Dr. Stanley Szefler, director of the Pediatric Asthma Research Program at the Aurora's Children's Hospital Colorado said that:  "More schoolkids are admitted to the hospital for asthma attacks in September than in any other month."

Dr. Szefler says that it is known as the September Epidemic. There are a few reasons they mention:  
  • It could be because kids head back to school and share germs with all the other kids in school. 

  • It could also be because kids go on vacation during the summer, not just from school, but from using their maintenance medications. They are not in a school routine, so they forget about it. Or maybe Mom thinks she can keep an eye on the kids during the summer, so they don't need to take their maintenance medication. (Bad idea!!!!!! You should NEVER stop taking your asthma medicine without your doctor telling you to. We have made that mistake before and Son #2 ended up in the hospital because of it.) Sigh.The things you learn over the years about asthma....

  • It could also be due to fall allergies. The article says that, "Up to 80% of children with asthma also have allergies, with fall being especially problematic."  They say that "When breathing is constricted due to allergy congestion, the likelihood of asthma flare ups increases."

The article also talks about viral infections, the flu and obesity causing problems with asthma. 
 There's always so MUCH to worry about as a parent, if  any of these things seem to be a problem for your child, call your doctor. He/she is there to help!

Good luck with sending kids back to school and managing asthma :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Scary virus hospitalizing kids with asthma

(Shutterstock image)

I am REALLY worried about a new virus that has hit 10 states already,  made over 1,000 kids sick so far and hospitalized numerous kids - including many in ICU (the intensive care unit.)

My stomach has butterflies in after watching the story on ABC news called "Unidentified Respiratory Virus Likely To Hit Kids Across Country."

I have asthma, as do all three of my teenagers. When they were younger, Son #2 and daughter Kitty were hospitalized 12 separate times for asthma - 2 of those were in ICU. So when I hear about a new virus that is affecting kids with asthma, I am VERY nervous.

The story says that children under 5 are at the highest risk of being hospitalized, but even teenagers are ending up in ICU. 

One teenager interviewed in this story, was a little sick one day (he had a runny nose and a cough) and the next day he was in ICU. That teenager turned blue on day 2, was rushed to the ICU and was given an emergency breathing tube (a ventilator.) Scary stuff!!!
 I have had Son #2 suddenly end up in ICU, it's scarey how fast kids can get deathly ill.

One of the doctor's at Children's Hospital of Colorado, Dr. Christine Nyquist, said 
"the virus usually ends up appearing similar to a severe cold but can be particularly dangerous for children with asthma because of how it affects the respiratory system."
"The kids are coming in with respiratory symptoms, their asthma is exacerbated," Nyquist said. "Kids with no wheezing are having wheezing." 

Webmd explains wheezing as  a sort of whistling sound. With my kids, it is almost a windy squeak at the end of when they breath out. Kind of a weird sound, but once you hear it, you will never forgot it. Their website also tells you when to go to the doctor.

If you have ANY doubt about your child/if they don't seem to be breathing right, call your doctor - don't wait. He may want you to bring your child to his office right away or drive to the nearest emergency room. This illness travels fast, and kids with asthma can go from bad to worse MUCH fast kids without lung problems.

They also recommend making sure you have all of your kids asthma medicine, inhalers, nebulizers etc near by. 

I'm worried, worried, worried.....



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Asthma doesn't just run in our family - it gallops!!

I was watching some videos on Youtube from "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Show." He has a segment each week where he reads off tweets from the weekly hash tag. One segment was called Hashtags: Dadvice

It's pretty funny to watch him read off the tweets. This episode had advice from dads to their sons. 

 This is what one tweet from @mikeruss39 said
 "After the first time I got drunk my dad told me to be careful. 'Alcoholism doesn't just run in this family - it gallops.' " 

I thought that would be the perfect thing for me to say about asthma in my family. 
Asthma doesn't just run in our family - it gallops!

My parents, siblings and I all have asthma. All three of my teenagers have asthma, as do many of my nieces and nephews. 

The same can be said for Hubby's side of the family - grandparents, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews all have asthma. 

So, when Hubby and I married, it was the perfect storm. Our kids didn't have a chance of NOT inheriting asthma (and allergies.) And if my teenagers marry someone later who has allergies and asthma on their side of the family, the genetic defect will continue!

Sigh. I hate asthma. But at least our family can have a funny quote about it now!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Missing out with asthma

Summer is winding down and things are getting colder, so camping season is coming to an end. Son #2 has been on a LOT of camp outs this summer. As a mom, I worry - no matter how old your kids are, you never stop worrying. I reminded him to take his inhaler and to be sure and use it if he started coughing or was short of breath. 

The problem with camp outs is that you are out in nature, so there are a LOT of trees, bushes, etc that can cause allergies to flare up - which can cause an asthma attack.

The other problem is being around camp fires. Who doesn't like to roast marshmallows and make s'mores? (That reminds me of a scene from the movie Sandlot. "You're killin' me Smalls!!")

Did you know that the smoke from the camp fire can cause an asthma attack? Son #2 let me know that he was VERY careful around the camp fire this summer. He made sure that he stayed away from the smoke. It seems like the smoke is always drifting - so you may have to keep moving to stay out of the smoke. (Have you ever heard of the saying that "Smoke follow beauty?" Well, I must be REALLY beautiful, because no matter where I try to stand around a campfire, it will follow me. I can move 4 or 5 times, and it still drifts over by me. Arrggghhhh!!!!)

So, now a group of friends is going to the canyon to ride on a zip line and have s'mores afterwards. Sounds like a great idea, right? Well, ya - if you don't have asthma. Not only can I NOT be around the campfire. But NO WAY am I going on a zip line, those things are way too high up in the air, and they go too fast. (Yes....I admit it - I'm a chicken when it comes to rides like that.)

At least I know my limits. Did you know that strong emotions can cause asthma attacks? If someone talked me into going up on a zip line, I know I would be beyond scared. I don't want to have an asthma attack while I'm zipping down the mountain side! 

The CDC has a web page about common asthma triggers. It says that:
"Strong emotions can lead to very fast breathing, called hyperventilation, that can also cause an asthma attack. "

So, I'll pass on the whole zip line thing.

And I also pass on the s'mores. My chest has been a little tight lately, the last thing I need is to get around a trigger and have an asthma attack.

Maybe I'll just stay home and watch a movie on Netflix instead.....

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Help for kids in school

(Shutterstock image)

Like most parents, I always worried when my kids went back to school. Not just about basic things, like will they make friends? What if they get bullied? Will they actually EAT school lunch? 

I also worried about their asthma. Are there any asthma triggers in the classroom? (I think most schools are past the era of having a classroom pet...) Will they know when they are having problems with their asthma? Will they remember how to use their inhaler? Will they actually use it? Or will I just get a phone call from the school to come get my child?

American Lung Association has a program for students, called Open Airways.

It's a free 6 week program that teaches elementary kids (ages 8-11) how to manage their asthma. It's not a lecture type class, it has some fun, interactive projects. During one class, we took a paper towel roll and filled it up with marshmallows to show the kids what happens to their bronchial tubes when they have asthma. (We were trying to explain how phlegm can plug up the bronchial tube - making it hard to breathe.)

Each state chapter of the American Lung Association offers the program. If you want it taught in your school, contact your local chapter. If they don't have anyone that can teach it at your child's school, you can be trained to become an instructor.

I taught it in when my daughter was in elementary school. She was at the age where she was still willing to be seen with me in public! I tried not to do anything to embarrass her during class - like admit that I knew her. 

Years later, I had a teenager come up to me at a city park and say, "Remember me? You taught me in the asthma class. And I learned how to use my inhaler with a spacer. It's so much easier now, Thanks!"

Wow! What nice feedback! 

Check with your state American Lung Association and see if you can get the program into your child's school. If your kids are in the class while you are teaching it, just pretend like you don't know them! That way you won't do anything to embarrass your kids. Like trying to talk to them.

Friday, August 22, 2014

How often do you use a rescue inhaler?

(Shutterstock image)

I've talked to two people today who told me they have family members who are REALLY struggling with their asthma. They said their family members are only using their rescue inhalers to treat their asthma symptoms. When that doesn't help, they are going to the emergency room.

Hhmmm, Asthma Doc has told me time and time again that "all rescue inhalers do is buy you time." He says they are "just a bandaid approach." He told me if I am using my rescue inhaler too often, I need to be on a daily, maintenance medication. Maintenance medications help keep the swelling down in your lungs - so if you are exposed to one of your asthma triggers, you may not need to use your rescue inhaler as often or you may not end up in the emergency room.  

How often is too often to use your rescue inhaler? 
Webmd has a page called When Should I Use My Inhaler? 

Here's a quote from their page:

A rescue inhaler is supposed to relieve sudden symptoms, not control your asthma long term. If you're using a rescue inhaler 2 days a week, or more than 2 nights a month, your asthma isn't controlled. Talk to your doctor -- you may need a control inhaler.

I use a daily medicine to control my asthma. But I still have to use my rescue inhaler if I am around strong perfume, smell smoke, am out in cold weather, or get sick. (Those are my asthma triggers.) BUT - I don't use my rescue inhaler more than twice a week. If I don't feel "right" or feel like my asthma is under control, I call Asthma Doc and he can adjust my medicine. Sometimes he changes the amount or strength of my maintenance medication. If that's not working, he may try another medicine.

Asthma can change over time and can be hard to control at times. If you are having problems with your asthma and using your inhaler more than twice a week, or waking up more than twice a month due to asthma, talk to your doctor. He's there to help.

Even with asthma, we should be able to enjoy life and be able to do all the things we want to without asthma holding us back! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Exercise and asthma

(Shutterstock image)

So, what if you want your kids to be active, but exercise makes their asthma worse?

I saw an article on Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics website (AANMA) called "Exercise & Asthma: Breathe Strong"

In the article, they talk about exercising with asthma. If you (or your child) is having a hard time exercising with asthma, the first step they recommend is to talk to your doctor. For some people, exercise can trigger an asthma attack. It's called exercise-induced bronchospasm

Some people also call it exercise-induced asthma. It doesn't mean that you can't exercise, it just means that you may need to use your inhaler (or nebulizer) before you exercise. Your doctor can decide what's best for you. Everyone who has asthma is a little different. The AANMA article also says to check to make sure you are using your inhaler correctly. Most people THINK they are, but they may not be using it right. Here's a Youtube video called "How to Use an Inhaler"

Many people also find their medicine works better if they use a holding chamber (it looks like a spacer.)

Some people may be short of breath when they exercise, or think they are REALLY out of shape. Other people may cough or have a tight chest. Mayo Clinic list these symptoms of exercise induced asthma:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Fatigue during exercise
  • Poor athletic performance

They also list when you need to get help - FAST!!!

  • Shortness of breath or wheezing that is quickly getting worse
  • No improvement even after using a rescue inhaler, such as an albuterol inhaler
  • Shortness of breath that continues even after you've recovered from your workout
It's important to exercise, so if any of these symptoms sounds like you or your child, call your doctor to see if you need to change/start on an asthma medication.

Many kids may be starting sports with the start of the school year, and we want them to be healthy and happy, right?

Let's go team!!!