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Friday, July 29, 2011

No horse for the back yard.


So, my youngest child, Kitty, reminded me the other day that we still haven't bought a horse for her for the back yard. She said she has been patiently asking for five years now, and still no horse. Hubby said he keeps forgetting to get one each time he goes to the horsey store.

I had to listen to an hour long car ride of her saying, "but they're sooooooo cuuuuuuuute!" "aaaahhhh, there's another one!" and on and on.

Now, we live in the city, and our backyard is about the size of a postage stamp. Not to be deterred, she has decided that to save room, she will store the horse's tack and food in her oldest brother's bedroom (who recently moved out.)

We can joke about it with her, but the sad truth is that we can't have any animals inside or outside out home. When you have allergies and asthma, animals are not a good thing to have around. They are a very common asthma trigger and as cute as pets are, they can make you feel miserable. I feel like a such a mean mom, because I had plenty of pets growing up (and spent my childhood sneezing and wheezing.) The rule at our house is no animals.

Kitty also happens to be allergic to horses. A few years ago, we were taking horse back riding lessons and after each lesson, she would have an asthma attack on the drive home. I would race home as fast as I could so she could get in the shower and wash all the dander away, but she still struggled.

She is doing allergy shots now (immunotherapy.) To learn more about it, click here
She's been having allergy shots for about three years now, she may be able to tolerate being around horses. Hhhhmmmm

Now about the size of my backyard......

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Familiar face at the pharmacy

(photo from Google Images/

So, is it a good thing or a bad thing that the people at the pharmacy know me when I go to pick up prescriptions? Not only do they know me, but they also knows all 3 of my kids. When I walk up to the counter, they simply reach bag and grab the bag, I don't even have to tell them which prescription I am picking up and for which family member.

All 5 of our family members have allergies, and 4 out of the 5 of us have asthma. So we are at the pharmacy a LOT! We have tried a three month supply from the mail order pharmacies, but it didn't seem to save any money. For some people, it does. The mail order pharmacies will send a three month supply for the price of two or sometimes three co-pays. For us, we had to pay three months of co-pays, so it didn't save any money. Not only that, but the kids always forget to tell me they are running low on their prescriptions. They will usually tell me when they are completely out (as they shake their empty bottle) Sigh.

I guess that's why I like using my local pharmacy, I can get a presciption the same day. And they know me! With as much time as I spend at the local pharmacy, I should add them to my Chrismas card list! Just kidding.......

Friday, July 22, 2011


(Google Images)

It looks like Eczema is back to bother Kitty again. I didn't think she would still be having a problem as a tween it seems like most of my kids had problems when they were toddlers. Unfortunately, asthma, allergies and eczema often go hand in hand and can often last a lifetime. Lucky us!

Kitty started out with a spot on top of her knuckle, which then spread to the top of her other knuckles. Then it spread to the inside of her elbows and knees. What confused me was having it on the top of her knuckles, that's what made me wonder if it was something else.

So Kitty got to visit Dermatologist today. Kitty has several patches on her hands, so Dermatologist asked if she washes her hands a lot (which she does.) He then laughed and said he doesn't see a lot of eczema in boys, because they are usually terrible hand washers. Ugh.

He did prescribe a prescription cream for her to use, but recommended using a mild hand soap (such as Dove.) He also suggested we use Canola oil and dab that on the trouble areas. Simple fix, I would say.

Has anyone else had any problems with eczema, and have you found anything that works?
I'll be putting Dove handsoap on my shopping list and dragging out my big jug of Canola oil.

On the plus side, I am happy that she is a good hand washer, I know that the simple act of washing hands can prevent the spread of many illnesses. And as anyone who suffers with asthma knows, a simple cold for others can mean pneumonia and another hospitalization for us. I say keep washing those hands! And if you get eczema patches on them, use Dove hand soap and dab the patches with Canola oil.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to use a nebulizer

(Google Images)

Have you ever looked at a nebulizer and thought, "huh?" How do all the little pieces fit together? How do you clean it?

I found a great resource from the Utah Asthma Program. They have a link for 16 pages of different picture diagrams from the American College of Chest Physicians. They show:

  • How to use a diskus

  • How to use Foradil Aerolizer

  • How to use Maxair Autohaler

  • How to clean your Maxair Autohaler

  • Using an inhaler-closed mouth technique

  • Using an inhaler-open mouth technique

  • Using an inhaler with a spacer

  • Using an inhaler with a spacer and pediatric mask

  • Priming and cleaning your MDI and spacer

  • How to use Pulmicort Turbuhaler

  • Using Spiriva Handihaler

  • Using a nebulizer

  • How to use Asthmanex Twisthaler

Page 15 shows pictures of how to use and then clean a nebulizer. Click here to be taken to the 16 page document. You may find several of the diagrams useful. I know my kids have used a variety of asthma medications, and they're all different. These photos may help you if you are confused and your pharmacist isn't handy to ask. Of course they would be your best option, but if you can't contact them, this may help.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Coffee for asthma?

(Google Images)

I'm always hearing something new about ways to treat asthma, the latest one I heard involves drinking coffee to treat asthma. According to a New York Times article, caffeine has a substance that acts similar to theophylline, which is a drug used to treat asthma.

Can caffeine replace theophylline? The Times article says that coffee can result in a small improvement in lung function for 2-4 hours. But it also says that the improvements are very slight, not enough to act as a replacement for medication.

If you are having problems breathing, I would not suggest drinking coffee! Use your inhaler! If you feel like your inhaler isn't working, call your doctor. The majority of people (medical personnel included) don't use their inhalers properly. So, you may not be getting as much medication into your lungs as you think you are. Simply changing the way you use your inhaler can improve your asthma dramatically. Click here to view an asthma telehealth by David Young, a pharmacist who discusses common mistakes people make when using their inhaler. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on "In the World of Asthma, Device Matters")

Also, if you suffer from heart problems or other issues, you need to be careful about your how much caffeine you drink. Especially if you are drinking coffee after using your inhaler. That can be too much stimulation for your heart.

So, bottom line? Coffee can have a minimal effect on asthma, but is not a substitute for your asthma inhaler. And too much caffeine combined with the inhaler can affect your heart.

Be skeptical! There are some weird claims floating around......

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Inhaler-rescue vs maintenance

(Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of America)

Do you ever look at a poster like this and think "huh? I'm confused!"

Join the club. It seems a lot of people are confused, there are discs and inhalers. So what do you use and for what? All the discs I have seen are for maintenance medication, so you use them every day.

But what about metered dose inhalers? They look the same, except for color, so which ones are used for every day (maintenance or controller medications) and which are used for when you are having problems breathing (rescue or emergency inhalers)?

It's hard to tell a difference, Son #2 has two inhalers, one is Advair (so he uses it every day) the other is Xopenex, so he uses it when he's having problems breathing. One is purple, one is blue. Hubby can't tell the difference, as much as I love him, he wouldn't know what to do if Son #2 was in trouble.

I know some companies are developing stickers to put on inhalers. The Utah Asthma Program is working with pharmacists to develop stickers to put on inhalers. A green strip sticker could be for everyday (green means go) and a red sticker could be for the emergency inhaler (since red means stop or danger.)

Until then, I whip out a black marker and write on the inhaler "controller" for the every day inhaler and "emergency" for the rescue inhaler. That way, not only do the kids know which is which, but Hubby will too (just in case someone panics-not that any of us have EVER panicked during an asthma attack)

Has anyone else found a good way of marking your inhalers to tell them apart? I would be interested to see what other people have found that help.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Asthma Action Plans

There are a lot of different types of Asthma Action Plans on the internet. I like this one from the Utah Asthma Program's website . That's the version our school nurse uses, and we just got our copy in the mail. Our School Nurse sends out a new Asthma Action Plan for us to fill out every summer. We also get a Self Administration Form to fill out.

By the way, did you know that it is legal in every state in the U.S. for students to carry their inhaler with them during school? However, you must fill out a Self Administration Form every year, sign it, and have the doctor and principal sign it. As long as your child is old enough to use their inhaler on their own, they can carry it with them. (Do you really want them to have an attack out on the soccer field and have their inhaler locked up in the front office?!) We all know that schools are drug-free, however students with asthma and diabetes are allowed to carry their medication with them.

Also, according to Allergy & Asthma Today magazine, every state except for three allow students to carry their Epi Pen with them as well. (Wisconsin, New York and Rhode Island still need anaphylaxis laws)

So, even though it's the middle of summer, we are getting the kid's forms filled out by Asthma Doc so I can mail them back to our School Nurse. Please do your school nurse a favor-if your kids have asthma, let her know! (And get your Asthma Action Plan filled out!) She can't help your child if they have an asthma attack and she doesn't know what their triggers are or what medication and dosage they need. It also helps their teacher know what to do to help them.

Don't waste precious minutes during an asthma attack wondering what to do. Have your child's Asthma Action Plan filled out and on file at the school. Keep a copy at home as well. I almost feel like it's Murphy's Law-if my kids have one on file at the school, they won't need to use it. If I don't have one on file, they will have an asthma attack and need it. Either way, protect your kids and get yours filled out now!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Giving nebulizer treatments

Have you ever had a hard time getting your kids to sit still while you do a nebulizer treatment? How can you distract them for 10 minutes? It was always a challenge when my kids were little, sometimes Teddy Bear would get a "treatment" (we would just hold the mask up to teddy-we wouldn't turn the nebulizer on and waste our precious vials of Albuterol.) Or we would let Kitty be in charge and hold the mask up to teddy, or horsey, or whatever stuffed animal was her favorite at the moment.

I just found something on the website for the Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics. The video called "Baby Breaths" is made especially for kids to watch who are having a nebulizer treatment. It only takes 10 minutes and is designed to distract them from the treatment. I wish I would have known about this when my kids were little.! It shows other little kids getting nebulizer treatments. And little kids are always fascinated by watching other little kids. And it's nice for them to see other kids going through the same thing they are.

At only 10 minutes, it's the perfect length. So, try it and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Great American Asthma Challenge

I found something in my Allergy & Asthma Today magazine. There is something called The Great American Asthma Challenge

It's the first ever nationwide grass roots movement to end asthma suffering and death. Everything is online, and free. They have different "challenges" each week. But a lot of them are really easy, such as making sure you have an Asthma Action Plan. Or reading an article about asthma. You can also talk to family members about asthma, to see if there's a family history. They have a challenge about learning about anaphylaxis and letting family members know about it.

You don't have to do them in any certain order, whatever is most important for you.

You have to register and then can log on every week and see what you want to work on. I believe that knowledge is power, and the more you know about asthma, the better you will be. I am always learning something new, and I've been dealing with it for 11 years now.

Anyway, just another idea. Let me know if any of you try it and what you think.

Friday, July 1, 2011

4th of July Fireworks


It's that time of year again, time to celebrate the 4th of July. Many of us are having BBQ's, attending carnivals and parades and of course lighting off fire works.

Many of you who read my blog regularly know that I have a fear of smoke. This is due to Son #2 who almost died from the effects of a forest fire-the smoke filled our valley, along with my son's lungs. It was during 4th of July weekend, so the kids wanted to light off fireworks. It seems like kids are drawn to fireworks and water. (Watch your kids near the water too-we've already had 9 children that have drowned so far this summer in our state. All it takes is you turning your back 'just for a second' and they're gone.)

But back to fireworks. They can cause problems with asthma-any smoke can. Keep your kids a safe distance from them, and watch the way the wind is blowing the smoke, change positions frequently if you need to.

And watch their breathing- if they start coughing then do a nebulizer treatment or have them use their inhaler pronto! Many of us think "it's just a cough" Coughing is your lung's ways of saying "help!" If you have asthma, use your rescue medication, don't wait until it gets worse. (I think that's the mistake I made when my kids were first diagnosed with asthma, I didn't know when to use the nebulzier, call the doctor, or start them on steroids)

Trips to the Emergency room are not fun. And spending 3 days in the hospital each time for asthma is not fun either (Trust me, I know! My kids have been hospitalized 12 separate times for asthma) And sometimes, they can't save people who have asthma attacks. Keep in mind that 11 people die from asthma EVERY DAY

I do not want to me or my kids to be one of them. So, enjoy the 4th of July, and watch fireworks, but from a distance. And remember what your doctor has told you about treating your (or your child's) asthma. Don't be afraid to use your rescue medicine if you need it, and if there's no improvement after using your medicine, head to the closest emergency room. Minutes count when you have asthma.

Please look over your Asthma Action plan so you know what to do in case of an asthma attack. Follow the doses your doctor has prescribed for you, we're all a little different, so do what you need to to treat your asthma.

Happy 4th of July!