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Monday, July 30, 2012

New powdered nose spray!

Daughter Kitty was at Asthma Doc's office, getting her allergy shots last week, and she was miserable. Even though she takes Zyrtec and Singulair, (in addition to a daily asthma medicine) and has weekly allergy shots, she could still hardly stand it! She was sneezing, her eyes were watering, she talked through her nose like she had a cold. She was one miserable girl.

We were actually at Asthma Doc's office for Son #2 to get his Xolair injection. But he took one look at Kitty and jumped into action. He first had to approve her to get her shots because she was having so many allergy symptoms. (I am wondering if Shot Nurse was worried that Kitty would have a reaction to her allergy shots if she was that severe before she had shots.) Asthma Doc approved her, and she didn't have a reaction. But in the exam room with Son #2, he could see that Kitty was miserable. He quickly stopped what he was doing to talk to Kitty. He asked if she had ever tried nose spray, and that was enough to upset her. She broke down into tears. She HATES nose spray. But he had a card up his sleeve, there is a new nose spray that is a "dry" spray. Like all new products, it also has a dose counter, so no more guessing how many doses are left.

If you look at the photo, you'll notice that the hole for the spray to come out is VERY small. That lets you know that it goes into your nose. To watch a video that shows how to use it, click here.    

We are going to try it this morning. I am wondering how many people will confuse this for an asthma inhaler? It looks similar, except that the hole is really small. Just look at the name "Qnasl" and know that nasal is another term for nose. So it goes up your nose, not in your mouth.

If your kids hate nose sprays too (or maybe you do!) this may be an option. Ask your doctor what he or she thinks.

Good luck!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Generic vs name brand


This is a generic form of Zyrtec that is available over the counter. I love the price-it's about $15 for 365 pills-yes, a year's supply! And since all 3 of my kids take the antihistamine every day of their life, the cost can add up. (They also take 2 other maintenance medications every day for their asthma too. We spend LOTS of money at the pharmacy!) Some people are lucky enough to only need antihistamines for a few weeks in the spring or summer. Not our family. My kids are allergic to anything that is alive-cats, dogs, horses, trees, flowers, bushes, grass, etc. 

So when daughter Kitty went in for allergy shots yesterday, she was miserable. She was sneezing, her eyes were watering and she couldn't stop sniffing her nose. Shot Nurse had to check with Asthma Doc to see if she could have shots. I think Shot Nurse was worried about Kitty's allergies that day. If she gave Kitty her allergy shots when she was that miserable, would she have a bad reaction?

Shot Nurse checked with Asthma Doc, and he approved the shots. But I told him I was puzzled as to why Kitty was so miserable. She takes her antihistamine every day. Son #2 joked about our year's supply of pills and Asthma Doc asked if it was the generic version. He said generic drugs only have to prove that they are 80% as effective as the name brand drug. Wow! You learn something new every day! Maybe that's why Kitty is still struggling. I'm sure generic versions work great for most people, but maybe it depends on how severe your allergies are.

He gave us a couple of ideas for changing brands or doses of the generic. If you are still struggling with allergies-even after taking antihistamines every day and having allergy shots, talk to your doctor. Maybe a different medication or dose is needed.

We also use a couple of other tricks Asthma Doc taught us. To learn more about them, click here. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Necklace fans for heat and allergies

(Bed Bath & Beyond)

My friend works at a national discount store and is a cashier. She gets hot standing at her register, so she uses a necklace fan. It is a small flat fan that hangs around her neck with a lanyard and blows air to keep her cool. She loves it!

One of the people that came through her register line asked if she used the fan for allergies. My friend was a little puzzled and said that she uses it to keep cool. The customer said she uses hers to blow air on her face and keep the allergens away. The customer said it really seemed to work for that!

Here's a link to the fan my friend uses  It's inexpensive, just under $6 and available in several colors.

The photo above is from Bed, Bath & Beyond. Theirs sell for $8 but their website says they are sold out. You may be able to find some in their stores.

I sneezed all day yesterday and the day before. Maybe this fan is worth giving a try for allergies. It can be a two-for-one. Keep me cool and blow allergens away. If anyone tries it, let me know what you think!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Back to school time-Muhahaha!

(Utah Asthma Program)

It's that time of year again, time to fill out Asthma Action Plans! I just got my blank forms in the mail from Really Amazing School Nurse. She sent two copies, one for daughter Kitty, and one for Son #2. She has done a great job taking care of my kids over the years.

Every summer, she sends out a new Asthma Action Plan. She uses a different version than this form, but it's the same basic idea. I fill out my part, then take it to Asthma Doc so he can fill out his part. It's VERY important to actually turn those back in to the school nurse. She makes sure the kid's teachers have a copy of the Asthma Action Plan. Since kids are in school an average of 7 hours a day, I would like everyone there know what to do if my child has an asthma attack. And they won't know what to do unless they have the form. There are different types of inhalers and different doses. How will your child know what to do? Ever seen a kid panic during an asthma attack? It's nice to have written instructions. Do they get one puff of their inhaler? Two puffs? What do you do if that doesn't work? The Asthma Action Plan will tell you what to do for your child.

Some people think they can just give their child an inhaler to take to school. Yes and no. It is legal in EVERY state in the U.S. to carry an inhaler with you at all times in school. BUT, you have to fill out a permission form at the beginning of every school year. Check with your school to see what they use. Usually the parent, doctor and school nurse sign i, then it's kept on file at school. That makes it legal for kids to carry "a drug" in a drug-free zone.

Almost every state in the country also allows kids to carry Epi-pens. There are a few hold out states. It looks like Wisconsin and Rhode Island finally passed laws. According to the Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics , New York is the last state that needs to pass a law. (Get with it New York!!!!!) If you have a child with a food allergy, you want them to have their Epi-Pen with them at ALL times. I've witnessed anaphylaxis once with Son #1, and I NEVER want to go through that again. It can kill your child in a matter of minutes......luckily Son #1 survived.

So, add this to your list of Back-to-School supplies. Yeah, the kids needs clothes, shoes and school supplies. But they also need an Asthma Action Plan. Their life could depend on it.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Traveling with asthma


Packing for a trip is always an experience. If you forget to pack something, you can usually buy it wherever you are. Soap, shampoo, combs, razors, etc.

EXCEPT: inhalers. It's not like you can find a corner drugstore and grab an inhaler. You will need a prescription, which will mean a trip to an insta-care, clinic or emergency room. And if you are traveling in a different state or country, that can be expensive.

My inhaler and the kid's nebulizer   have gone to the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, and many other places. I don't go ANYWHERE without my inhaler. With my luck, the one time I didn't have my inhaler in my purse would be the time that I would need it.(I have actually had an asthma attack and didn't have my inhaler with me once. It was scary!)

Remember to pack your inhaler in your carry on bag, not in your luggage. Airlines do lose luggage, and you don't want to be without it on the flight. What if you have an asthma attack on the flight and your inhaler is in your toiletries bag in your suitcase? Which is packed in the belly of the plane?

I wanted to know how security at airports handle inhalers. I looked on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website under "Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions"  

Non-liquid or gel medications of all kinds such as solid pills, or inhalers are allowed through the security checkpoint once they have been screened. We recommend, but do not require, that your medications be labeled to assist with the screening process.
They suggest putting it in a plastic ziploc bag and handling it to the security agent to visually inspect.

The ehow website says that:
  • The TSA says prescription medications, in general, are allowed in carry-on luggage. However, the medications must be in their original pharmacy packaging labeled with the passenger's name. Passengers who don't have their inhaler package with them will likely risk delays during the screening process.
I don't usually keep the box my inhaler came in. I hope security isn't that strict, they probably see inhalers all the time. I don't remember having a problem when I flew cross country. Of course, it would be my luck that there would be a problem

So, check out the TSA website to see exactly what they want travelers to do. The last thing you need is to be in a strange city without an inhaler.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Just for Kids

("Mr. Nose-it-All" from American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology)

I found a fun website for kids from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). "Mr. Nose-it-All" has a whole section of fun things for kids, including fun games:

  • Allergy and Asthma Word Game
  • Food Allergy Bubble Game
  • Back to School Game
They also have a section that has fun things you can print out for the kids, such as:

  • Allergy and Asthma Puzzles
  • Camping with Allergies and Asthma
  • Children's Storybooks (English and Spanish)
  • Dr. Al and the Sneeze 'n Wheeze Busters Coloring Book
  • Stinging Insects matching game
  • Tim and Moby Explain Asthma Video Game
If you are looking for something to keep your kids busy for summer, click here.

And pass the crayons-why should kids have all the fun?!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Breathing in slow vs fast

This is my little friend, it goes on every trip with me. And I use it EVERY morning before breakfast. It's my daily, maintenance medication (so called because it maintains my lungs and prevents swelling in them).

But it's a little different than rescue inhalers.  Click here for a link to the American Academy of Asthma Allergy and Immunology's website that shows different rescue inhalers. The most common are Albuterol, and the brands are Pro-Air, Proventil, or Ventolin. Xopenex is another rescue inhaler, but it's a different medication.

Rescue inhalers are used during an asthma attack, but as Asthma Doc so often tells me, they are just a "bandaid" approach until you can get the swelling down in your lungs.

So, I take Advair every day to keep the swelling down in my lungs. But it has to be taken very differently than a rescue inhaler. Click here for a Youtube link from the American College of Physicians Foundation. Since it's a dry powder medication, you have to inhale deep and fast. Unlike rescue inhalers, Advair doesn't have a propellant. So you have to breath deep and fast to avoid having the powder stick to your tongue or throat. You want it to go down into your lungs. Click here for another Youtube video from a pediatrician's office that explains how to use Advair. She says "speed" is important when using your Advair disc. She also plugs her nose when she inhales, but I don't do that.

Remember to rinse your mouth out and spit it out. Otherwise, you can get thrush (an infection that turns your tongue white and causes lesions.) It can be really painful!

Check with your doctor or pharmacist and make sure you are using Advair correctly. Otherwise you are wasting time and money. And you need to keep the swelling down in your lungs, otherwise your next asthma attack could be worse. And who wants to spend the night in the emergency room? Or worse, have to be admitted. I can think of better places to spend my time...

So, I'll keep taking my Advair every day, and making sure I have my rescue inhaler with me too, just in case. With asthma, you never know when an attack can come. And it's always at the worse time!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Calming down after an asthma attack

(Bull Publishing)

This CD has been so useful! I used it today to calm down after a sudden asthma attack (right in the middle of an office retreat).

Everyone from my office was at a park, enjoying a delicious BBQ lunch. So was I! Unfortunately, the valley is smokey again from a new fire. I'm not sure where the smoke is coming from, it was all clear when I went to bed last night. I went to open the windows this morning and could smell the smoke from a new fire. There was one that started last night about 40 miles away from me, but the wind must be blowing the smoke into our valley.

Each coworker was giving a short presentation on something we have learned at a conference in the last year. I was last, and by the time it was my turn, I was feeling pretty sick. We had only been at the park for about an hour, but that was long enough for my lungs to be out in the smoke. When I have an asthma attack, I usually start coughing, which is always followed by coughing up the mucus from my lungs. Today my chest was hurting and my throat was just a little twitchy. I was coughing a little, but not as much as I usually do.

I used my inhaler, and thought I would okay. After all, everyone else can sit out at the park in the smoke and not be bothered. But NOOOOO, I have to have asthma. And everything is always worse with asthma. I had to get up and stumble over to my car and drive back to work. On the way back, I did some deep breathing exercises to calm me down. Once here, I was safely in an air conditioned building, no smoke!

 I popped this CD in my computer and plugged my headphones in. It really helped. I wasn't sure if I could stay here or would need to go home, but I'm finally starting to feel a little better.

I got this CD after taking a Chronic Disease Self Management Course, which was developed by Stanford University in California. It teaches people with any chronic disease how to manage their symptoms and their life.

This is what Stanford's website says about the course:

Subjects covered include: 1) techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation, 2) appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance, 3) appropriate use of medications, 4) communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals, 5) nutrition, and, 6) how to evaluate new treatments.

To learn more about the program, click here.  You can contact your local or state health department to see if they teach this course. Our state offers it for free and you also get a free book with the CD.

It has been so helpful, and I'm glad I had the CD on hand to help me calm down after my asthma attack. I missed the best part of our retreat, but oh well. At least I can breathe now! And that's all that matters. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Does something look strange here?

Does this photo look a little strange? Take a close look.

The left side of the building says "Allergy and Asthma Center." If you look closely at the windows, you can see that EVERY window says "Cigars, Tobaccos, Pipes." A co-worker who was on vacation sent this photo to me. He thought it was pretty bizarre! An asthma clinic sharing a building with a tobacco store?!

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that smoking and asthma don't mix!
Smoking + asthma = bad lungs. 

Webmd's site says that:

"Second-hand smoke is especially harmful to people who already have asthma. When a person with asthma is exposed to second-hand smoke, he or she is more likely to experience the wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath associated with asthma."

It also has a section that says, "Can Smoking Harm My Child?" I'm sure we all know that it's more dangerous for kids to breath second hand smoke than it is for adults. To read more about asthma and smoking on Webmd's website, click here

So what if you smoke and have asthma? I have family members that have struggled with trying to quit smoking for years and years. Obviously they are addicted. They know it's bad for them. They know they need to quit. But when and how?

American Lung Association has a resource page      that can help people who want to quit.

Until then, if you happen to live near this building, you can get one-stop service. Buy your smokes and then head to your appointment with your asthma doc. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Legal to carry inhaler at school?

Believe it or not, it's that time of year again. Time to make sure the kids have their asthma medications for school. Be sure and check the expiration dates on their inhaler. I just found out daughter Kitty's inhaler had expired.

But is it legal for kids to carry their inhaler at school? Don't all schools have a Zero Tolerance when it comes to "drugs" in schools?

In the United States, it is legal in EVERY state for kids with asthma to carry their inhaler with them at all times. HOWEVER-you must fill out a special form at the beginning of every school year. In our state, there is a form on the Utah Asthma Program website. It's called "Self Administration Form." That means your child can use their inhaler by themselves. There are different versions of this form. To see the form our state uses, click here.  The doctor fills it out and you and the doctor both sign it. Then you give a copy to the school nurse. That gives them permission to carry a medication in a drug-free zone. (You don't want your child's inhaler locked up in the front office if they're out on the soccer field having an asthma attack. You need to use that inhaler immediately!)

The other form you need to fill out is called an Asthma Action Plan. To download a form, click here. There are a lot of different versions of an Asthma Action Plan. But it's set up like a stop light-red, yellow and green zones. It tells your child's teacher what to do if your child is in a certain zone.

Green   means GO. Your child is in his normal zone. (No symptoms)

Yellow means CAUTION. Your child needs to "step up therapy" because they are starting to cough/wheeze/are short of breath, etc. They usually need to use their inhaler in this zone.

Red   means STOP! Get help now!  This is when medication isn't helping your child, they cannot walk or play and they're having a difficult time talking. This means get to your nearest Emergency Room as fast as you can or Call 911. 

These zones are different for each child, that's why it's important for you to have an Asthma Action Plan. This tells your child's teacher what to do if your child has an asthma attack. 

So even though it's still summer, it's time to start getting forms ready BEFORE school starts so your child can carry their inhaler with them at school. Remember to check the expiration dates on their asthma inhaler and Epi Pen too.

Until then, keep swimming and enjoying summer! 



Saturday, July 7, 2012

Generic Singulair PLEASE!!!

We are waiting for Singulair to go generic, Merck's patent expires in August of 2012. That means a generic version will be available in the U.S., but I don't know when. Soon I hope! It's already available in Mexico and Europe.

Hubby just called from the pharmacy, he was getting 2 of the kid's Singulair prescriptions filled. But our insurance co-pays start over again in July. So Hubby had to pay full price for both prescriptions. They are $125 a piece! So, there goes $250!!! Ouch.

Since we all 3 of our kids have asthma (and so do I), we buy A LOT of asthma and allergy medications, so trips to the pharmacy really hurt our budget. It's almost time for a new Advair disc, and that's really expensive. Advair is about $500 without insurance, but I usually pay $60 with my copay.

I'm dreading another trip to the pharmacy when I need a new Advair disc.

So, what to do? Needymeds is a great resource. Their slogan is "find help with the cost of medicine." There are a lot of companies on the website that can help when you can't afford your prescriptions. DON'T stop taking your medicine if you can't afford it. If you do, you can end up in the emergency room or after-hours at the doctor's office. That's going to cost WAY more than it would to just get a prescription filled.

I hope Singulair goes generic soon, until then it might be easier if I just sign my paycheck over to the pharmacy....


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 4th of July-no fireworks for us!!!

This was the extent of our fireworks this year-snappers! We could still have fun, but I didn't want the smoke from the fireworks this year. At last count, there were 11 fires burning in our state. Our valley has been very smokey lately and yesterday was a "red air quality" day. To find out more about air quality, click here. 

Smoke from fireworks + smoke from forest fires = VERY unhappy lungs. I was miserable last night and went to bed early.  Of course it's hard to sleep when others are still setting off fireworks at 1:00 in the morning....

This morning some places in the state actually had rain! Yes!!!!! This is a big deal since we haven't had rain here in over 36 days. Those dry conditions are why we have so many fires here now.

I hope the rest of you with asthma were okay during the 4th of July. I don't want to be a party pooper, but there's only so much smoke a girl's lungs can take. The poppers were fine for our family, and we could see other fireworks up in the sky.

I'm still not feeling well today, it's amazing how your whole body feels terrible when you aren't getting the oxygen you need. I love my lungs-please keep working! And please keep raining. I would love to take a big, deep breath of fresh air!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tempting fate

(Shutterstock image)

Well, another week means another visit to Asthma Doc for allergy shots. All 3 of my kids have had  the series of allergy shots which takes 3- 5 years (depending on the person). Of course they have all started and ended at different times, so it's been about 10 years of me taking kids for allergy shots.....every week.

To learn more about allergy shots, click here. 

Once your serum is mixed (depending on what you are allergic to) you start by getting allergy shots twice a week (one in each arm) and then they slowly increase the dose until your body can handle the injections.

Since you are being injected with a what you are allergic to, there is a chance you can have anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction.) You are supposed to wait 20 minutes after each injection, but at Asthma Doc's office, I regularly see people leave right after they get shots. Stupid people. They are tempting fate.

The ONE time we left early was because Son #2 was in the hospital due to asthma. It was a Friday afternoon and it was Hubby's turn at the hospital. I decided to take Son #1 and daughter Kitty to shots, then we were going to pick up a pizza and head right back to the hospital to watch a movie with Son #2. HA! 

Son #2 had his shots, and I said to shot nurse, "We're not going to stay, we're going to grab a pizza and head back to the hospital." She said, "I'm sure you'll be fine, what are the chances that anything will happen? And if it does, you'll be at the hospital!"

So, we piled in the van and headed to get pizza. Well, we were only a block away when Son #2 started coughing and said, "Mom-I think something's wrong." I looked in the rear view mirror to see that my son's face had turned bright red, his eyes were bulging and glassy, and the veins were popping out on his neck. I swerved over to the side of the road and turned around to head back to Asthma Doc's office. I grabbed my cell phone and called them in a panic. Wonderful Shot Nurse assured us she was ready and waiting. She had the epinephrine pen waiting for us. She quickly injected him and then started a breathing treatment. She stayed with him (after the office had closed) and watched him for 2 hours. She kept us calm and made a terrible experience bearable.

She told us that even after using epinephrine, the anaphylaxis can "rebound" or re-occur. She gave us a prescription for an epi-pen and sent us to the pharmacy.

Meanwhile, Hubby is calling to say, "Hey! Where's the pizza?! I thought you guys were coming right back to the hospital!" I said, "I can't talk now, Son #1 is in anaphylactic shock!" He could only get in a "What? Huh?" Before I hung up.

And to make matters worse, while we were at the pharmacy getting the Epi-pen, we left Kitty's favorite stuffed animal on one of the chairs. Talk about a bad night!

I was still shaking by the time I got back to the hospital and we ended up just calling for a pizza to be delivered.

What's the moral to this story? STAY  20 MINUTES AFTER EVERY ALLERGY SHOT!!!!

It can be the one time you leave early that you have anaphylactic shock. Don't tempt fate.