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Wednesday, June 29, 2011


(photo from
I am watching with interest the story on ABC news about the Los Alamos fire. (Hopefully that link works, my player on my laptop wouldn't show the video, but maybe yours will)

Fires make me really nervous, Son #2 came close to "cashing in his chips" after a forest fire in our valley several years ago. It was 4th of July weekend about 10 years ago, and there was a forest fire that caused the smoke to blanket the valley. Fires are scarey because they can change direction quickly and the smoke can change direction as well.

Son #2 was outside playing with friends while the smoke slowly crept into the valley, and before we knew it, he was in trouble. Breathing treatments didn't work, and we quickly ended up in the Emergency Room, where things went from bad to worse. He continued to decline, and we found out later that they had the "crash cart"outside his room in case he quite breathing. And he came VERY close to that.

If you have asthma, stay indoors if there's a fire! Luckily, we have central air, so we can keep the windows closed up and stay safe (and keep breathing) inside. I know that fires draw people to the hillside, they are mesmerized by the flames and the excitement of all the people.
If you can stay away, do it! Fires can be unpredictible, even fire fighters have lost their lives when the wind or fire suddenly shifted.

And I noticed in the story on ABC news, that people at the emergency shelter where complaining about not being able to breath. How many of them have asthma? It's a scarey thought.
If you need to evacute, do it quickly! After Son #2's experience with the forest fire, I was a bit shell shocked. So when another fire occured a couple of years later, as soon as I smelled smoke, I packed up our duffle bags and headed out of town. We drove 5 hours away to visit grandma, and be able to breathe.

Don't take any chances, fires are deadly, and as all of you with asthma know, everything is magnified with asthma. What may be make a normal person "uncomfortable" can cause us to quit breathing.

And to all of the firefighters, THANK YOU! for putting your life on the line so we can keep breathing. Please be careful.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Portable Benadryl for allergies

(Google Images)
I've found some great things over the years for allergies and allergic reactions. When the kids were little, I would use the Benadryl Perfect Measure if they were having problems while we were traveling. This was especially helpful when Kitty was taking horseback riding lessons, and would have asthma attacks afterwards. We tried to get home as fast as we could to get her in the shower, but would usually end up using one of the pre-measured doses for her. They're better than carrying around a bottle and medication dispenser and dripping sticky medicine all over.

Son #2 carries the Benadryl Strips along with his Epi Pen, since he is allergic to tree nuts. In fact, we add that to his Self Medication Administration form at the beginning of every school year. I sign the form, along with his doctor, which makes it legal for him to carry it with him in school. The strips look like a little piece of turquoise tape, you just place it on your tongue and let it dissolve. It works fast and isn't messy.

I love the way technology and medicine evolve, it makes my life so much easier. If you or your kids have food allergies, you may want to consider carrying the strips or the perfect measure doses. It's one of those things that you may not need that often (if ever) but you will be glad you have it with you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Allergies vs intolerance to foods

(Google Images)

I just read an article in the newspaper about food allergies, which many people with asthma have. About 1 in 13 people have food allergies. The problem is that many people confuse food allergies with food intolerance.

A true food allergy will involve a skin rash, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and tightness in the chest. People with a food intolerance, say to milk, will experience digestive problems and bloating.

Bloating and digestive problems won't cause anaphylactic shock, but a true food allergy will. If you have ever witnessed one (as I have with Son #1) it is extremely shocking. Not to mention the fact that it can kill you in a matter of minutes!

If you are confused about if a food you are eating is merely causing some annoying symptoms because you are intolerant, or that you are truly allergic, please contact an allergy doctor near you as soon as possible. Since true food allergies require you to avoid the food and carry an epi-pen with you at all times, it is good to know what you are allergic to.

It's also a good idea to tell everyone around you, so they will avoid making those foods if you are coming to dinner, or will at least serve you first before there is any cross-contamination with serving utensils.

Since Son #2 is allergic to tree nuts, and I am allergic to seafood, we are always inspecting food before we eat. In fact, we just went out for ice cream cones, and amazing number of ice cream flavors contain nuts! So I asked the employee if she would get a new, clean scoop and use it to scoop Son #2's choice of ice cream first before she helped the rest of us. She was a little wide-eyed and scared, but I knew Son #2 would be okay. She just had to serve him first, then she could scoop out other flavors without having to worry about any cross-contamination.

Knowledge is power-you can still eat out for dinner and at family parties, but know how to avoid your problem foods. Don't be afraid to ask questions about what is in a particular food dish, and let people know that you have a food allergy. You may need to be served first if the food you are allergic to is present. You can do all of this quietly and discreetly and still enjoy many family parties and nights out at dinner.

Now I'm craving an ice cream cone, I think I'll stop by on the way home from work. One chocolate peanut butter scoop in a sugar cone please!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Gone for a week

(Google Images)
Hello all you loyal readers! I will be taking a week off from blogging to relax and spend some time with my kids before I start a new job.

The search box on the blog is a great way to look up posts, I have over 100 on here so far talking about everything from hospitalizations of my kids, allergy shots, traveling with asthma, and on and on.

So, if you're looking for something specific, spend a little time looking through the older posts until I get back to the computer next week!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Laughing can cause an asthma attack!

Who is this guy on my blog? It's who I look at for a good laugh. But did you know that laughing (or any strong emotion) can cause an asthma attack.? Son #2 does a great belly laugh, but instantly will start coughing. Mind you, it's not the kind of asthma attack that needs an inhaler. But still, it can be a little scary.

There is a blog that I have been following called "Wave at the bus" , it's a really funny blog that shows the 170 different costumes that a dad would wear every day to wave at his high school aged son. On the first day of high school, his mom and dad ran out to wave at the bus, which of course embarassed their son. He told them to never do that again. Game on! Dad decided to wave at the bus EVERY day and to wear a different costume every day.

If you want a laugh, click on the blog, but if laughing is one of your triggers, watch the asthma!

Have fun!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Asthma books

It's always fun to find some kids books about asthma. There are several on the Environmental Protection Agency- EPA website

Dusty the Asthma Goldfish is great for kids, and is also available in Spanish. I also have Helping Your Child Gain Control Over Asthma (which is also available in Spanish.)

It's always hard trying to explain to kids why they have to be a little more careful around pets, the outdoors, foods, etc.

These are worth checking out if you have time. And if you know of any other good books for kids with asthma, let me know!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Special dogs protect kids from allergies

I just read an article in the newspaper from North Haven, Connecticut entitled "Special dogs protect kids from allergens." It was interesting, because some families are getting dogs that can sniff out allergens (such as peanuts) to try to protect their kids. The baseball player in this picture has to wait for his dog to inspect the field before he can play. One family has a daughter who has to carry wipes, Benadryl, an inhaler and an EpiPen for anaphylactic shock. She has had to go to the hospital several times because of reactions to peanuts.

Another woman was in a big box store and couldn't figure out why her dog wouldn't let her go down a non-food aisle. She thought something was wrong with the dog, but then saw a mouse trap with peanut butter on it.

These families want to have the dogs accepted everywhere, just like service dogs for people who are blind or who have seizures.

I have mixed emotions about this, because what about people who are allergic to the dogs? My kids are allergic to all animals (except Kitty can have a rat, but I am not buying one for her!) There was a student in Kitty's school who went into anaphylactic shock after someone brought their dog for show and tell.

So- what does everyone else think? Do we allow dogs everywhere to sniff out peanut allergies to prevent their owner from going into anaphylactic shock? But what if the dogs cause someone to have an asthma attack or anaphylactic shock?

Don't get me wrong-I inspect everything we eat at family parties and restaurants, because I am allergic to seafood and Son #2 is allergic to tree nuts. But I don't think I would get a allergy sniffing dog that could put other people with asthma at risk.

What a hard choice!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Types of peak flow meters

Peak flow meters are an easy way to check on your asthma. Click on the colored "peak flow meters" at the beginning of this sentence, and it will take you to the Amazon website.

It gives you a lot of different pictures of what peak flow meters look like. A peak flow meter is a simple hand held device that helps you see how air moves in and out of your lungs. There are different zones on a peak flow meter (red, yellow and green.)

Green means go! Your asthma is under control and you can do whatever you want. Yellow means you are having problems, you may be having an asthma attack or getting sick. You should do whatever your doctor has prescribed, which often means using your rescue or emergency inhaler. You can sometimes increase your maintenance medication if you are getting sick.

The red zone means get to the hospital-quick! Or you may need to call 911. Your doctor or nurse can set up your peak flow meter since the numbers are different for each person.

They also have electronic peak flow meters which work really well. It depends on what your insurance will cover, either an electronic version or simple hand held version.

They're great little devices, we have them in every back pack and purse because it's one of those things that can really help you know if you're in trouble or not. So, check them out and see which one is right for you.

Happy shopping!

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Just" an asthma attack

I helped out with the Fight For Air walk on Saturday with our state American Lung Association chapter. I had the chance to talk to a lot of people about their experiences with asthma.

One woman told me about being in the hospital with a loved one, and seeing someone else come in who "just" had an asthma attack. Except that she was on a ventilator (it's the machine that breathes for you and keeps you alive)

Does everyone know that "just" having an asthma attack can kill you? In the U.S. every day, there are about 11 people that die from "just" having an asthma attack. That's right, with all the medication and doctors and hospitals, people are still dying of asthma attacks.

Why is that? I'm not sure. There are about 40,000 people every day that have an asthma attack, about 5,000 people will need to go to the emergency room, about 1,000 people will be admitted to the hospital. And of course there are the 11 people every day that die.

PLEASE know the signs of an asthma attack
Don't wait until you are gasping for air or coughing so hard you can't use your inhaler. Many people wait too long to use their inhaler. If you are having any of the problems breathing listed in the link, use your inhaler! It can prevent a trip to the emergency room, and hopefully keep you alive.

Asthma is serious, treat it that way! It's completely changed my life, my goal is to help other people understand asthma, how to treat it, and avoid the pitfalls.

I tell people that my goal in life is to keep myself and my kids alive. They always laugh, but it's true. My kids have been in the hospital 12 times, and 2 of those were close calls. The nurses were just waiting for my son to "crash" or quit breathing. Asthma can kill. We have managed to avoid that so far, but if you Google "asthma deaths," you can find story after story of people who were found dead on the floor because they couldn't get their inhaler in time.

Please be careful and take asthma seriously!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Different types of spacers

(University of Southern Arizona Health Sciences Center)

There are a lot of different types of spacers. I listened to a pharmacist recently who gave a presentation on the Utah Department of Health's Telehealth Series. It was very interesting because he talked about why it is important to use an inhaler. If you don't, the medicine goes to the back of your throat because it comes out of the inhaler at 50 miles per hour.

Many people don't use spacers because they take up room in a briefcase, purse or backpack. Or they may not know how to use one and many doctors don't tell their patients they need one. Of course it's easier to just slip the inhaler in your pocket, but what's the point of using an inhaler if you aren't getting the medicine down into your lungs?

Another thing the pharmacist said was to make sure you wait several minutes between puffs on your inhaler. There is a reservoir in the bottom of the inhaler, and it needs to refill before it can discharge the medicine. So, once again you may be using your inhaler but you are not getting any medicine into your lungs. He said DO NOT do two quick puffs in a row. Because you will be getting half of the medicine you think you are getting.

I watched it a couple of times because it was so interesting, if you want to watch it, here's the link

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on May 3rd "In the World of Asthma Device Matters: by David Young, Pharm D

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Types of "maintenance" or "controller" medication

I know this is something that is confusing to a lot of people, because there are so many different kinds of "maintenance" or "controller" medications. And this photo doesn't list all of the options (the Advair diskus shown in purple also comes in a inhaler version for example) and there are other medications that are used.

Just remember that controller or maintenance medication is something that you need to take every day, whether you feel like you need it or not. You can't feel inflammation (or swelling) in your lungs, but it can be there. So follow the doctor's orders and take it every day.
Some people just need maintenance medication in the fall and winter, some people need it year-round. So, ask your doctor what's right for you.

Here's a link to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology that lists inhaled corticosteroids. They have a list on their website with the generic name, photo, brand name, use, usual dosage and tips for each medication.

It helps to see what's out there, some times your doctor might want to try different medications to see what is best for you. Son #2 has been on 4 or 5 different medications, we finally found one that works.

Since each person with asthma is different, what works for one person may not work for another. I am fine on the Advair diskus, but Son #2 needs the Advair inhaler. There's a lot of experimenting to get the medications right. Just remember to follow your doctor's instructions.