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Friday, April 11, 2014

Sick building syndrome

I think we have "sick building syndrome" in my office. What is that?  The U.S. National Library of Medicine has an article that lists symptoms from bad indoor air quality. They include:

  • Headache

  • dizziness

  • nausea

  • eye, nose or throat irritation

  • dry cough

  • dry or itching skin

  • difficulty in concentration

  • fatigue

  • sensitivity to odours

  • hoarseness of voice

  • allergies

  • cold

  • flu-like symptoms

  • increased incidence of asthma attacks

  • and personality changes

The people that take care of our building recently changed the filters on the air conditioning unit. That's usually a good thing, but for some reason, it made the air in our building smells like a dirty bathroom. It's awful!!! And it seems really humid, in fact I noticed that the posters on my walls are warping! Woah!!!

It's really been affecting my asthma. In fact, I had to leave work yesterday because my chest was tight and I was having a hard time breathing. I used my inhaler twice during the day, and finally thought, "forget it!!!! I'm leaving the building!!!!" It took several hours for me to start to feel better.

At first, I thought I was going crazy, because many of the employees across the hall couldn't smell anything. And their posters and display board papers weren't warping. But when I would walk back across the hall, the smell in my office was awful.

It's been almost a week with the horrible smell. It seems worse in my area of the building - lucky me!!. And what makes it really bad is that I can't open my window. With newer building, they are built to be "energy efficient." Which basically means that someone else controls the thermostat and decides when to turn the heat and air conditioning on. And the windows are just big panes of glass that don't open. What I wouldn't give to be able to open my window and let some fresh air in!!

Yesterday after I was walking out of the building (holding my inhaler and spacer) I talked to the people in charge of our building and let them know that I had to leave because the building was making me sick. I guess my lungs can only take so much.

If you are having problems, talk to the people in charge of your building. I guess there were enough of the workers in our building that were complaining, that they were able to fix the problem.

I love my job, but I can't do it if I can't breathe. Good thing it's Friday and I can have a break from this building!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Perfume causes another asthma attack

Most people love perfume and body sprays. There's nothing wrong with wanting to smell good, but as my neighbor always says "people don't have to take a bath in it!!!"

I went to the theater this weekend to see the new Captain America movie. As we were watching the previews, I smelled some REALLY stinky sweet perfume. Ugh. I looked around to see if I could figure out where it was coming from.  I thought it was a woman who had just sat down 2 rows behind me. So, I got up and moved up a few rows. It seemed better, then suddenly it was MUCH worse. I think it was the woman sitting across from me. Great!!! So I got up and moved about 15 rows up. The smell seemed to come and go. I think she was sitting under one of the air conditioning vents, and every time the AC would turn on, it would spread the smell of her perfume.
Many people don't realize that perfume can be an asthma trigger. 

Then it started........first I started to sneeze, then I started coughing. Yes, I was having an asthma attack! I pulled out my inhaler and spacer, shook it, then took a puff. I waited a minute and then took another puff.

I tried to take a deep breath and do a little belly breathing, but couldn't because I would start coughing again. I coughed off and on for most of the movie and my chest hurt. You can forget trying to eat popcorn when you are coughing!! Or trying to enjoy a movie!!

Remember, that what may NOT bother you or trigger an asthma attack can trigger one for other people. Here is a list of the most common asthma triggers. What's yours?

Please keep in mind that some of us have asthma attacks from perfume. Please limit (or don't wear) your perfume if you are going to be in a public place and people will be stuck sitting near you (such as theaters, conferences, performances, or while traveling on planes, conferences, etc) 

I thank you and my lungs thank you.



Friday, April 4, 2014

Is your city the worst city for allergies?

The annual list is out!!! 
Allergy and Asthma Foundation of American (AAFA) has just released this year's list of Spring Allergy Capitals. They are "The Most Challenging Places to Live with Spring Allergies"

Is your city on the list?
How does a city make it on the list? They are ranked by:

  • Pollen score (pollen, grass, tree and mold spores)
  • Number of medicines people take for allergies)
  • Number of allergy doctors per patient
Hubby and I and all three teenagers have allergies and have been using a LOT of boxes of tissues lately. We also take a LOT of allergy medicine. Hubby woke up this morning with two swollen eyes due to allergies. I told him that people are going to think I smacked him!! (Think of one of the scenes from the Disney movie Tangled where Rapunzel smacks people with her frying pan.....) 

Can you do anything if you have allergies? Yes!! AAFA has a section on their website about how to treat allergies. There are a lot of great ideas on there!
There's the old saying that "misery loves company". If you have allergies, know that there are PLENTY of other people that are as miserable as you are! In fact, AAFA says that there are 50 million Americans that suffer from all allergies (food and drug, latex, indoor and outdoor allergies, insect, skin and eye allergies.) 
So, if you are suffering, you are not alone!! :)  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Follow up about thrush

Mmmmm, doesn't my medicine look yummy?!

Last time, I blogged about thrush and asthma medicines. I realized I had thrush and I knew I needed nystatin to treat it (thrush is an infection that you can get from using your maintenance inhaler.) If you use a daily inhaler or discus for your asthma medicine, it's VERY important that you rinse your mouth out after using the medicine. Those medicines are made with a yeast base, so you can get an infection in your mouth from using them. To prevent that, I rinse my mouth out and usually eat something after using my medicine or brush my teeth to make sure my mouth is cleared out.

Last week, I had  nasty head cold, so I wasn't thinking clearly. I must not have been as careful as I usually am, because I ended up with thrush. 

If you have thrush, your tongue will be white and you may also have sores on your tongue or throat. It's VERY uncomfortable. And my food tastes weird too.

 There are different forms of nystatin, my doctor prescribes the liquid form. I swish it around in my mouth and then swallow. I do that three times a day.

It really works!  If you or your kids take a daily maintenance medicine for asthma, make sure you follow the directions and rinse your mouth/have the kids rinse their mouth out afterwards. If your kids complain about their mouth hurting, check and see if their tongue is white. They can also have little sores on it. You can find lots of pictures online that shows what someone looks like that has thrush. Some of the pictures are pretty gross, so fair warning!

If they do, call your doctor to get a prescription for nystatin. I was feeling better by the second day. And my food was tasting better again!

Sigh. You know, some days asthma can be a real pain!!!!!

Monday, March 24, 2014


What is thrush?

Thrush is a yeast infection that can cause white patches on the tongue. Sometimes it can also cause sores if you try to scrape off the white patches. Babies and older adults are more likely to get it because their immune systems may not be strong.

(I was going to try to find a photo of thrush to add to the blog, but all of the pictures on Google Images are pretty gross. You can see a photo on WebMd's site ) They also have some information about the side effects of inhaled corticosteroids

If you have asthma, and use inhaled corticosteroids you can get thrush. I'm usually VERY careful when I use my controller inhaler. Corticosteroids are made with a yeast base, so it's important to rinse your mouth out after taking your medicine. I also take mine before breakfast so I can eat something afterwards, then brush my teeth. That will usually eliminate the risk of thrush for me.

BUT, I was sick last week. I had a cold that hit my lungs and made it hard for me to breath. I was taking a LOT of extra medicine, so I wasn't thinking clearly. And I wasn't as careful as I normally am when I take my controller medicine.

So, I got thrush. Argghh! It's really bothering me, so I'll have to call Asthma Doc and see if he'll call in a prescription for an anti-fungal medication, Nystatin.   The last time this happened, he prescribed a bottle of nystatin liquid. I had to swish a couple of spoonfuls in my mouth and then spit it out. I had to use it twice a day for 10 days. 

Fun!!!!! I really don't need anymore excitement in my life......

Follow the recommendations listed on WebMd's website, and be VERY careful and you may be able to avoid  getting thrush. Fingers crossed.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Follow up to entry about migraines and allergies

What is with technology?! I saved this photo right side up, but when I put it on the blog it turns sideways??!! Argggghhhh!!!!

Anyway, this is the Reader's Digest magazine I was looking for, it is the current issue. Inside is the article I mentioned last week about the link between migraines and allergies. 

You may be able to read the article here They have free 30 day trials of Reader's Digest for Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook and Android devices.

In the article, they quote the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention Study  This is just a one page summary of the study. 

I found the original study, but couldn't download it because it required a membership fee. 

The Reader's Digest write up about the study says that the lining of the nose is connected to a nerve (the trigeminal nerve), which is connected to migraine pain.  The researchers think that when allergies flare up they irritate the nerve endings, which triggers pain. 

They mention that treating the allergies with allergy shots or allergy nose spray may help decrease migraines. If you have migraines AND allergies, talk to your doctor. It's amazing how so many things in our bodies are connected. Who knew??!!  Wouldn't it be WONDERFUL to reduce the number of migraines by treating your allergies first?

Sign me up!!!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Kristin Chenoweth and counters on inhalers


I just read a story on Know Your Count about Kristin Chenoweth, who is an amazing singer! She shared her story about singing during rehearsal and shows, and having a difficult time breathing. Well, that's not a good thing if you sing for a living!! 

She went to her doctor and was diagnosed with asthma. Luckily, she doesn't have persistent asthma, so she doesn't have to take medicine every day. BUT, she does use a rescue inhaler. And for all of you that use rescue inhalers, you know that you never want your inhaler to run out! 

She uses an inhaler that has a dose counter on it, so she knows how many doses (or puffs) are left. It gives you a chance to get a refill before you run out. 

How do you know if your inhaler is empty? 

The Know Your Count website (sponsored by TEVA respiratory and Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America) says that: 
".....just because an inhaler is still spraying does not mean it still contains medicine. When an inhaler is out of medicine, it will often spray a “propellant” that is used to help get the medicine to your lungs, even if the inhaler is out of medicine."   

Well, that' scary! If you are having an asthma attack, you need that medicine! I don't want to end up in the emergency room because I have an empty inhaler and I'm having an asthma attack!!! (Two million people end up in the ER each year due to an asthma attack.)

Check your inhaler and see if you have a dose counter. If it does, see how many doses are left. Give yourself time to get to the pharmacy and get a new inhaler.

If there's one thing I NEVER leave the house without, it's my inhaler. My inhaler has been to Disneyland, the Grand Canyon, Chicago, Washington DC and Paris. It should quality for frequent flier miles now....

Check your inhaler and make sure it still has medicine in it. And if it's time for a refill, request an inhaler that has a counter on it. 

Just keep breathing, just keep breathing, just keep breathing....