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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Finally! A generic albuterol inhaler will be available!

Everyone who thinks inhalers are expensive, raise your hand. (My hand is up in the air!)
Since all three of my college aged kids and I have asthma, we have spent a LOT of money over the last 19 years on asthma inhalers. 

So, I was excited to see that GSK will soon release a generic Albuterol inhaler!. 
And it's estimated to cost less than $36!
I often hear from families that have 3 or 4 kids with asthma and families can only afford one inhaler. So, they send one inhaler to school for the kids to share. 
I hope that it will help families be able to afford the inhalers they need for each person. 
Fingers crossed! 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Prepping for a long illness

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I know it sounds weird to be prepping for a long illness, but I know what is coming up this week.

This morning, I woke up with my throat feeling funny and my lungs feel a little off. Not enough that I need my inhaler or nebulizer, but just enough to let me know that something isn't right.

People with asthma get a lot sicker than people without asthma (when it comes to colds and the flu.) 

In fact, it's not uncommon for a simple cold to morph into bronchitis or pneumonia. 
If I start with a cold, I know my cold will turn into bronchitis (as it did 4 times last year.) So, I am getting ready. I am stocking up on:

Tissues with lotion

Throat lozenges

Cough drops

Orange juice

Chicken Noodle Soup

I also make sure my Albuterol inhaler has plenty of puffs in it. And I check my boxes of Albuterol vials for my nebulizer to make sure I have enough.

Since I moved, I also need to find:

The closest Urgent Care (and the hours it is open.)
Nearest Emergency Room 
Open late/all night pharmacy

I know I need to rest and it will take a while for my lungs to recover. So, it will probably just be me with a snugly blanket and the TV remotes.

For those of you out there with asthma, I wish you luck if you get sick during the flu season. It could be a bumpy road for all of us!



Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Strong emotions triggering an asthma flare

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This can be a tough time of year - holiday work parties, making treats for the neighbors, trying to take a family photo, being stuck in an airport, or in a long line of traffic trying to leave the city.

What are strong emotions anyway?

Anger, crying, laughter, yelling, fear, etc.

And there can be plenty of those emotions this time of year!  

So, what do you do? There's always going to be anger, especially if you commute to work (why do people insist on not using their blinker to change lanes? And they can't wait to merge but instead cut off other drivers?) I don't get it!

Crying can be common this time of year. It's hard to keep up with holiday expectations and you may be forced to spend time with family members who you didn't get along with as a kid, and you still don't.

Laughter - okay, there is nothing funner for me than watching a good movie. Or listening to The Hubby telling his dorky jokes or spouting one-liners from movies. A good laugh will start, but will quickly end up with coughing from an asthma attack.

Yelling - see above story about idiot drivers....

Fear. We had a series of faulty water heaters that flooded the basement a few times. Can I tell you the fear of walking down to the basement and stepping in water?? The last time The Hubby went to the home improvement store to replaced the water heater (still under warranty), the store said they were no longer carrying that brand because they had so many problems with it. Now they tell us?

Life can be a roller coaster. If know that strong emotions can trigger an asthma attack for you, make sure you still enjoy life - but keep your Albuterol inhaler or nebulizer handy!  




Friday, December 21, 2018

Death from asthma

During this holiday season, we have been dealing with the death of a beloved family member. For those of you who have lost a loved one, you know how hard it is to plan a funeral. 

Luckily, this family member had already planned their funeral years ago. But there were still plenty of last minute details to attend to since have changed since she planned her funeral. 

During one of our many meetings with the Funeral Director, I was curious about what he sees in his line of work. The death in our family was expected, yet still came quicker than we thought. I have had other deaths in my family where I got "The Phone Call" that no one ever wants to get. (Letting me know that a family member had died suddenly.)

Since my world revolves around allergies and asthma, I was curious if The Funeral Director had to deal with any deaths from asthma. His reply was a quick, "Oh yes, many over the years." 

Did you know that people can die from asthma? Most people say, "It's just asthma - use your inhaler and you'll be fine."

It's not fine. Inhalers can't always prevent death. In fact, each day in America, 10 people die from asthma.

How do you know if you or a loved one are at risk of dying from asthma? Very Well Health lists risk factors:

  • Previous history of a near-fatal asthma event
  • Recent poorly controlled asthma with increased shortness of breath, nocturnal awakenings, and rescue inhaler use
  • Prior severe asthma exacerbation where you were intubated or admitted to an intensive care unit.
  • Two or more asthma-related hospital admissions or three or more visits to the emergency room for asthma
  • Using two or more canisters of your short-acting bronchodilator  like albuterol in a month
  • If you have trouble identifying when your asthma symptoms are worsening or you are having an asthma attack
  • Being poor and from the inner city
  • Substance abuse
  • Significant psychiatric disease
  • Other significant medical problems like a heart attack and other lung diseases

How can you have a sudden death from asthma? Well, sometimes it's not sudden. Someone may be suffering for several hours, days or weeks before they decide they need help. Very Well Health says:

"Importantly, 80 to 85 percent who die from asthma develop progressive symptoms anywhere from 12 hours to several weeks before death. Only 15 to 20 percent die in less than 6 hours after developing symptoms."
How do you avoid dying from asthma? Very Well Health says:
  • Know that you are at risk
  • Know your asthma action plan
  • Make sure you understand your asthma action plan
  • Use your asthma action plan
  • Use your peak flow meter regularly
  • Do not delay seeking emergency care if your symptoms worsen
  • Tell your asthma care provider that you are at increased risk of an asthma-related death
  • Make sure you can effectively communicate with an asthma care provider

For me, I would trust my gut instinct as a mom. There were several times where I just felt like something wasn't right with my child, so I would take them to the pediatrician. The doc would diagnose my child with strep throat or pneumonia and send us to the pharmacy for an antibiotic. But later on that night, I would STILL feel like something wasn't right. 

So, I would bundle my child up and drive to the ER. My child would end up being admitted since their oxygen level was low and their asthma was flaring up. 

I remember feeling so grateful that I listened to my gut instinct that something was wrong! I feel like there were several times that my child's life was saved because I didn't wait to "see if they got better" but rushed them to the ER where my child was hospitalized for 3 days.

If something doesn't seem right, call your doctor or after hours - FAST. Or head to the ER. It might be an asthma flare up that the doctors can treat, but if you need more intense treatment in the hospital, and you wait.....

Your family might get "The Call" that no one wants to get. 


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

How do you comfort a child in the hospital?

This is one of those things you never want to happen - but it does. 

We had this scary and sad experience 12 times with our kids. I really hate pneumonia and smoke from forest fires.....those are my kid's enemies.

So, you have a child in the hospital for asthma, now what?

Well, you know your child better than anyone else. What would comfort them?

For us, we found a few things that helped and we packed them with every hospitalization.

Favorite blankie  

My kids would usually get a blanket from Project Linus, but it's not the same thing as having your favorite blankie at the hospital. The nurses would always remind us that when they come in to change the sheets on the kid's hospital bed, to make sure they didn't accidentally take blankie. Because once it went to the hospital laundry, we probably wouldn't get it back. 

Favorite stuffed animal 

Same thing here. They would get a stuffed animal that was donated to the hospital, but it's not the same as their favorite stuffed animal. 

Favorite music 

This is going to tell you how old I am.....we used to take a small CD player to the hospital with the kid's favorite CD's. And yes, I still have every Disney song memorized. Now kids have cell phones and other devices to play music, so take those. 


Our kids were all picky eaters, so we got the okay from the nursing staff and then brought the kid's favorite snacks to the hospital. And I brought along a lot of chocolate for myself. Because chocolate makes everything better.

The Child Life Specialist 

Did you know that hospitals hire Child Life Specialists to help families in the hospital? They are specially trained and certified, and can help in various ways. They can blow bubbles while the kids get IV's (to distract them), bring your kids toys, blankies, video games, art supplies, etc. They are really good listeners too if the kids want to talk (or the parents!)

Have you found anything that helps when your child is in the hospital?





Thursday, December 6, 2018

When you don't know what you're missing

(Shutterstock image)

Recently, one of my college aged sons was looking at a big clock on the wall in our living room. He said, "You know, I can see the number on the clock but not the letters." I could see him squinting, but he still couldn't see them.

I was a little surprised and wondered how long he was having trouble seeing?

I knew he would need a pair of glasses, so I told him to go to the eye doctor. Sure enough, he came back home with a prescription for glasses.

Once he had his glasses, he was walking around the house looking at things. I could tell that he was noticing things that he wasn't able to see before.

I told him I remembered what it was like when I got glasses. I didn't realize what I missing! I THOUGHT I could see okay, but once I got glasses, I realized I had been missing a lot!

That reminded me of families that get inhalers for the first time. They have NO idea that they aren't breathing as well as they could be. Most people are really surprised the first time they use an Albuterol inhaler or have a breathing treatment. 

They didn't realize that it should be easier to breathe. They struggle to breathe, can't keep up with the other kids at recess, or with the kids on the soccer team. That's normal for them.

And adults tell me they just thought they were out of shape! And that's why they couldn't keep up when the family went for a walk, rode bikes, etc.

Once they were on the right medicine, they couldn't believe how much better they felt! 

Hopefully all of you are on the right medicine and can feel the difference when you are taking it!

Friday, November 30, 2018

When to take a child to the emergency room

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This is one of those scary decisions as a parent of a child with asthma. I should know - my kids were in the hospital 12 times.

Can I tell you how much I hate pneumonia? And smoke from forest fires? Those caused all of my kid's hospitalizations.

So, when do you know if it's time to take a child to the emergency room?

Nemours Hospital, says you should watch for these Emergency Signs:

"Your child has constant wheezing

Your child uses quick relief medicines (also called rescue or fast-acting medicines) repeatedly for severe flare-up symptoms that don't go away after 15-20 minutes or return again quickly

Your child has a lasting cough that doesn't respond to inhaled quick-relief medicine

There are changes in your child's color, like bluish or gray lips and fingernails

Your child has trouble talking and can't speak in full sentences

The area below the ribs, between the ribs, and in the neck visibly pull in during inhalation (called retractions)"

If you see any of those in your child, Nemours Hospital says to: 

".....see your doctor immediately, go to the ER, or call an ambulance"
I try to be prepared for an emergency by having an Asthma Action Plan for each of my kids. 

This one is from American Lung Association 

  It has green (good), yellow (warning/caution), and red (emergency) zones. Your doctor should work with you to help decide what to do in each zone. 
Talk to your doctor to let him know what you need to do in your red (emergency) zone.
It may help avoid a hospitalization or death from asthma.  

I can't tell you how many stories I have heard about people dying from asthma. One of the times when my daughter Kitty was being discharged from the hospital, the nurse who was pushing Kitty's  wheelchair said her brother died from asthma. Her brother's wife was rushing him to the hospital to get help, but he died in the car.

I have heard another story about a woman who found her son on the front lawn of the house. He had been hangout out with his buddies, but they all went home. He had an asthma attack and couldn't get into the house to get his inhaler. They found him dead on the lawn.

I tell you these stories to get you to see how FAST asthma can go from bad to worse. You may think you can handle it at home, but that's why we have hospitals. 

A couple of times, when my son was in the hospital, they had the "crash cart" outside his room. They weren't sure THEY could keep him alive - even with all of their hospital equipment. 

PLEASE do not "wait it out" to see if your child gets better.

After one hospitalization, the respiratory therapist said, "Don't let your son sleep through the night. Many parents are relieved that their child is finally sleeping. But - their oxygen level can drop, and drop, and they will stop breathing." That scared me!

After that, when the kids were really sick, Hubby and I would take turns staying awake and checking the kid's oxygen levels with an oximeter. 

Oxygen levels aren't the only thing to watch out for. Some people with asthma are able to compensate, so they don't seem that sick. 

Watch for the symptoms above - DO NOT be fooled by a high level of oxygen.    

This article, "Let's Talk Pulse Oximetry" may help explain it.

Decide now what you will do if your child is having any emergency symptoms. It helps to make a plan ahead of time (best route to the hospital vs calling 911.)