Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 26, 2011

Anaphylaxis (allergic reactions)

I know I have blogged about this before, but food allergies are still such a part of our lives. Hubby and I both have allergies, along with all 3 of our kids. But food allergies are a problem for myself and Son #2. There are various things that can trigger anaphylaxis such as:

  • Foods - peanuts, treenuts (walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds), eggs, milk, fish and shellfish (shrimp and lobster) and soy. To learn more about food allergies, click here.

  • Medications - ibuprofen (Advil), asprin, antibiotics and anesthetics. Click here to learn more.

  • Insect stings - yellow jackets, wasps, bees, hornets and fire ants. Click here to learn how to avoid stings.

  • Latex - disposable gloves, syringes, and IV tubes. Click here for more information.

I am allergic to seafood, and it can show up in the strangest places. I was at a catered lunch that asked for an RSVP, and I did mention that I was allergic to seafood. However, after I scooped a little pulled pork on my plate, I came upon the baked beans. As I put the ladel in the dish, I was shocked to find shrimp! I've never seen shrimp in BBQ beans before, and especially since I mentioned that I was allergic to seafood! I quicky set the ladel back down and scanned the other foods. I looked at the ladel that was in the beans and was hoping no one had used that in the pulled pork (you never know.....) since they had tongs for the meat.

I was okay eating the meat, but I was really frustrated. Why add shrimp to beans? And why didn't they have signs saying "allergy alert-seafood present?" Especially since we had to RSVP for the luncheon and list any allergies we had.

The problem with food allergies is that you can never fully relax. Especially if you are eating out at a restaurant, someone else's house, or even a catered lunch at a conference. We're forever inspecting our food for seafood and tree nuts. It also helps if we serve our plates first, before anyone starts mixing up different serving utensils for different foods. And many platters we will completely avoid, especially desserts. It's surprising how many desserts call for tree nuts in the recipe. And they pile all of the desserts on one tray, some have nuts, and some don't. But you can't chance it. There is always a risk of cross contamination. How do we know they used a separate knife to slice up the desserts without nuts and with nuts? Most people don't even think about that.

Talk to your doctor if you have any of the allergies listed above. You should ALWAYS have an EpiPen with you. And if you have to use it, call 911! The airways can close off very quickly, and it's best to let the ambulance take you to the hospital-they can run red lights. Click here for more information about allergies and EpiPens. They even have an app for your cell phone!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Seasonal allergies (I hate ragweed!)

Many people only get allergies a certain time of year (they call it seasonal allergic rhinitis-also known as hayfever.) One of the worst things for fall is ragweed. I hate that stuff! One plant can make a million pollen spores in one day, and it can really travel! According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, ragweed pollen has been found as far as 400 miles out to sea and 2 miles up in the atmosphere! Most of it falls close to the ground, but if you're sneezing, there's a good chance that ragweed is the culprit. Click here to read more information about ragweed from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation.

I was reading an article in Coping with Allergies and Asthma magazine about ragweed. They had some great ideas. Some of their suggestions are:

  • Start on allegy medication the first week of August, before ragweed season hits.

  • Get treated for allergies year round which can make it easier when ragweed season starts. They say other allergies (animals, dust mites, etc) can prime your system, which can make it even worse when hayfever starts.

  • Avoid the outdoors between 5:00 am- 10:00 am, when pollen levels are highest.

  • Avoid raking leaves and mowing the lawn (both stir up pollen). If you must do either of those, use a N-95 respirator mask.

  • Wear glasses or sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen

  • Avoid irritants such as air pollution, smoke, fumes, etc that can make your symptoms worse.

  • Visit an allergist to see how he can help your symptoms

I would add to their list the things Asthma Doctor tells our family to do (and we do!)

  • Shower before bed (this removes pollen from your hair and skin and allows you to sleep better)

  • Keep the windows and doors closed to keep pollen out

  • Take your shoes off when you enter your home to avoid tracking pollen in

If you are one of the millions who suffers from allergies, I feel your pain. Hubby and I all have allergies, as well as all 3 of the kids. All 3 kids have had allergy shots, and it has helped them dramatically. To find out more about allergy shots (immunotherapy) click here.

And please pass the box of tissues!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The flu-is it a big deal?


As many of you know, I like to keep current on medical issues, especially anything concerning asthma. A recent report from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) shows that many deaths from the flu can be prevented. Click here to read the story.

The report says many deaths could be prevented if you vaccinate your child and follow up with influenza anti viral drugs if they do become sick. The flu vaccine isn't 100% effective, especially for kids with high risk medical conditions. (I believe kids with asthma would be included in that group.)

What is a little scary is that almost half of the deaths of children (under 18) happened to kids that were less than 5 years of age. For those of you with kids that age, you know that it seems like they are always sick. They get over one illness, and it starts all over again.

What is shocking about this report is that half of the children who died were otherwise healthy. The other half of the children suffered from a variety of conditions such as neurological disorder, pulmonary (lung) disease, genetic disorder or heart defect.

I have enough problems keeping my kids healthy and alive. After 12 hospitalizations for my kids with their asthma (and 2 VERY close calls with death) I am a little shell shocked. The kids were sick last week when I got my flu shot, but now that they are feeling better, they will be getting the flu shot.

What a fun family outing! Fortunately, after years of allergy shots, they are used to needles so the shot won't bother them too much. But just the same, I think we'll stop for ice cream on the way home. Chocolate seems to make everything better.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Asthma medication and cavities

(Google Images)

I had a friend ask me if I had heard about asthma medications causing cavities, so I thought I would see what I could find.

There is a dentist in Nebraska that has some information on his website concerning asthma medications and cavities. He has a scientific study from 2001 that shows a link between asthma and cavities. To read it, click here.

The study shows that albuterol decreases saliva, which will lead to an increase in cavities. However, it would probably depend on how often you are using your inhaler. It's not recommended to use it more than twice a week. If you need albuterol more often than that, you should be on a daily, maintenance medication.

I always rinse my mouth out after taking asthma medication too. There are other side effects that can happen, especially if you are taking a daily, maintenance medication that can cause thrush. Thrush is a not-so-fun yeast infection of your mouth that can be treated by rinsing your mouth with a special medication. To learn more about it, click here.

From what I can find, it looks like taking care of your mouth and teeth by visiting the dentist is the best way to treat this. We go every 6 months, and are also careful to brush and floss. If you have any questions, ask your dentist the next time you are visiting him or her for a checkup.

Also, be sure to rinse your mouth out and spit out the water after using your daily, maintenance medication or your rescue inhaler.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Blow drivers cause asthma? Huh?

(Photo from

I've heard some weird things over the years, but this one takes the cake. According to an article in Reader's Digest, appliances and power lines all generate magnetic fields. They say that there was a recent study showing that women who avoided appliances (hair dryers, microwaves and vacuum cleaners) may lower the chances of their child developing asthma.

Huh? I had to go back several times and re-read that. That makes no sense to me at all. How can magnetic fields cause asthma? I would like to read that study.

On the positive side, if you are expecting a baby, maybe you could use this as an excuse to hire someone to do your housework. If you can't be around microwaves, vacuums and hair dryers, then I guess you'll have to hire someone to do it for you, right?! You wouldn't want to increase the odds that your child will have asthma!

Maybe that's my problem. All three of my kids have asthma, and I did all the cooking and cleaning while I was pregnant. Except for the fact that I was on bedrest for five months with both of my last two pregnancies. That meant not getting up except to use the bathroom or to shower. I was definitely not vacuuming or using the microwave. So how do account for something like that in their study?

I say that's the radiation=asthma claim is the weirdest thing I've heard yet. It seems like moms are always to blame for everything that goes wrong. We can't have caffeine or Advil when we're expecting. And anything that goes wrong in the pregnancy can be our fault.

Well, guess what? Asthma can also be genetic, which is how all three of my kids ended up with asthma. We have asthma on both sides of our family (grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, and cousins) In fact, in my family 11 out of 20 people that have asthma.

I guess what it comes down to is being careful about what you read about asthma. I am reserving judgement on this Reader's Digest article until I can track down the research. Don't panic and think you can't use a hair dryer for 6 months. But if you are pregnant and want to use the article to get a little help with cooking and cleaning, I can't say that I blame you!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lifting car off of motorcylist in Utah

(AP photo)

If you have been on the internet the last couple of days, you have already seen the story of a group of people lifting the car off a motorcyclist in Utah. Click here for a link to the video.

I watched this on the news last night, and to say I was shocked would be an understatement. It makes you think "what would I do?" I know I would have been one of the first ones there, and been on my belly like the lady who looks under the car to see if the motorcyclist was still alive.

The fire on the video is the scariest part, and where there's fire, there's smoke. And that's one of the things that can set off an asthma attack. Some others that are less well known are fear, anger (or any strong emotion) and stress.

I think it would be fair to say that all of the people lifting the car off the motorcyclist felt all of those emotions! I hope none of them had asthma or suffered an asthma attack from it. What a shocking situation to find yourself in!

I heard an update on the news that the motorcyclist will recover. He is badly hurt with a broken pelvis, other broken bones and road rash, but he will live.

It's one of those stories that I love to hear. There are so many tragedies on the news every night, it's nice to hear one about how good other people can be. To all of you who put yourself at risk (because no one knew when the car would blow up,) I add my voice to the chorus of everyone else who says THANK YOU!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tips to avoiding the flu

Well, illness has already struck our house (and school just started!) Son #2, Kitty and Hubby have had sore throats, fevers, nausea and diarreah. I am the only one who didn't get sick-knock on wood.

So, how can you keep from getting sick? Well, Lysol is my best friend right now. As well as lots of cleaning. I have a found a few other things over the years.

  • Each family member should have their own tube of toothpaste. (Toothpaste isn't that expensive, it's less expensive than getting sick and paying a co-pay for the doctor)

  • Keep each toothbrush on a separate shelf (and please don't keep it next to the sink where water from washing your hands can flip bacteria all over your toothbrush)

  • Use fresh hand towels daily

  • Use a new glass daily for drinking water

  • Throw away your toothbrush once you get sick so you don't re-infect yourself

  • Get a new toothbrush at the end of the illness (that's right folks-two new toothbrushes)

  • Wash, wash, wash your hands

  • Don't touch your face with your hands

I have used these with much success over the years. Someone has to stay healthy so I can take care of everyone that's sick! And nothing is worse than being sick while one of the kids are sick and is in the hospital. Since I have asthma, as well as all three of my kids, it's easy for me to get sick when they get sick. Many of the 12 times they were hospitalized with asthma and pneumonia, I was sick with pneumonia too. But somehow was able to keep going.

So, just a few tips. If you have used something else that has worked, or have any other ideas, please feel free to comment!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Buying a oximeter (sat monitor)


What is this? An oximeter (or sat monitor) can tell you how much oxygen is in the blood. You should be as close to 100 as possible. From our experience, we found that our kids would be admitted to the hospital when their 'sat' was 89 or below. My two youngest kids-daughter Kitty and Son #2- have been hospitalized 12 times with asthma.

How times have changed! We used to think having a sat monitor was a luxury. We would borrow one from a neighbor. She inherited her sat monitor from a neighbor who passed away after suffering all his life from Cystic Fibrosis. Now you can buy one at the local corner drugstore.

That sat monitor was a lifesaver for us (literally.) I could check the kids as they slept, because their oxygen levels always dropped while they were asleep. We were warned about this from a respiratory therapist during one of the times Son #2 was in the hospital. He said, "don't relax when he falls asleep and think 'he's finally stopped coughing and can sleep'." He said people with breathing problems can die in their sleep because their oxygen level just keeps dropping until there's not enough oxygen in their system.

So, I spent many a nights pacing the floor and checking my kid's oxygen level with my sat monitor, once it reached 91, we would head to the hospital. I knew once they were in the ER and fell asleep, their level would continue to drop. That would be captured on their sat monitors at the hospital and then the doctors would admit my son or daughter. The nurses can set the alarms to go off when the oxygen level drops too low, and the respiratory therapists and nurses can take over. That's what they're trained for.

Sat monitors (oximeters) have really dropped in price. The hand held unit we always used still sells for $800, but you can find a finger oximeter for as little as $39 at a nation wide drugstore. They even have sizes just for kids.

If your kids have asthma, and you feel like you are always going to the doctor, emergency room, or hospital, I would suggest buying a sat monitor (oximeter.) Especially if you are just learning about asthma. It has saved my kid's life more than once. Talk to your doctor about purchasing one and see what he thinks. He can tell you how they work and when you should bring your child to the doctor's office or emergency room.

The great thing about technology is that it's always changing, and prices are dropping. So, happy shopping!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dancing with asthma?

(Google Images)

It seems like I can never get away from asthma! This week I attended a cooking with vegetables class. As I was thumbing through the Health Monitor magazine they handed out, I saw an article called "Dancing with Asthma."

I have to admit that I don't watch Dancing with the Stars, but apparently one of the dancers on the show, Anna Trebunskaya, has asthma. The article tells her story of living with asthma. Originally from Russia, she said her asthma was made worse by living in an industrialized area. Once she moved to California, her breathing improved instantly due to the ocean air. (She must not live too close to LA, because anyone who's been there has probably experiened their bad air due to all the cars!)

Anna uses breathing exercises that she says trains the lungs to take in more oxygen. The website where this is available is based in Australia and is a partnership with two drug company, four universities, and two medical researcher institutes. Click here for the link

I tried the exercises, they were hard for me. Let me know if any of you found them helpful. I have found it is helpful to to try control my breathing during an asthma attack. The faster and more shallow I breathe, the worse I feel.

But if Anna is a world class dancer and can keep her breathing and asthma under control, it's worth a shot. Now, if only I had a dancer's body like she does, that would be nice too!