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Friday, August 31, 2012

Flu shot vs flu mist when you have asthma

(Shutterstock image)

I am a big believer in Flu Shots. I know that some people try to avoid shots (who really likes needles anyway?!) If you don't have asthma, you can have the flu mist. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the flu mist is for "healthy people."

 "Healthy" indicates persons who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.
Asthma is one of those conditions that "predisposes people to influenza complications." The flu mist is made with a live, weakened virus. That's not good for people with asthma, especially if you use corticosteroids. One of the side effects of steroids is that it impairs your immune system. The Free Dictionary by Farlex says that:

"...patients being treated with corticosteroids should avoid receiving live virus vaccines."

So check with your doctor, but we have always been told that if you have asthma, you can't have the flu mist. My kids are used to shots anyway, they get weekly allergy shots, so it's not a big deal. Check with your doctor to see if other family members who don't have asthma can get the mist. They may want the whole family to have the flu shot instead.

I have asthma, as well as all 3 of my kids. So we all just get the flu shot every year. We have the worst luck in the world, I know that if we didn't get the flu shot, one of us would get the flu and end up in the hospital. Son #2 and daughter Kitty have been hospitalized 12 times for asthma. And that's more than enough times for me. I feel like we payed for our own corner suite in the pediatrics ward at the hospital......

So, plan a day with the kids, roll up your sleeve and get your flu shot. Then take yourself out for a treat as a reward (bakery, ice cream, whatever.) Why should the kids have all the fun? We should get a treat for getting our shots too!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Teaching my own kids.....






It's been a while since daughter Kitty has been really sick. But school started last week, so here we go with the first illness of the school year (what do you expect when you're around 1200 other kids in a school...)

She was coughing and didn't sound very good, so I knew she needed a breathing treatment with the nebulizer. She used to be pretty good at putting the nebulizer kit together and doing her own treatment, but she couldn't remember how.

This is our nebulizer, canister and tubing kit. Our canister comes apart so it can be easily cleaned. I showed Kitty how to pull it apart and add the Albuterol to the 'green volcano' and put it back together. She's old enough to sit still and read or watch TV while she does her treatment. With little kids, you may have to distract them or let them give 'teddy' or whatever stuffed animal they love a 'treatment' first. I know moms that put a little water in the canister to mimic the mist from the Albuterol and then kids can give their stuffed animal a 'treatment'. Then it's their turn, and mom adds Albuterol for the child.

Anyway, we're past those days.

But with any nebulizer, you need to take care of it and the canister and tubing kit. We've had our nebulizer for 12 years now. However, the tubing kits are disposable and should be thrown away. In the hospital, they use the same tubing kit the entire time the kids are in there. So, we use ours at home for a while before we throw them away. BUT you must make sure they are cleaned after every use. The home health care taught us to take the canister apart and hand wash it with hot, sudsy water. Then rinse it, then sterilize it by soaking it in a bowl with 1 part vinegar to 2 parts hot water. We let it sit for half an hour. Then rinse it and put it on a paper towel to air dry. (Don't put it on a dish towel, that can contaminate it.)

It's a lot of work, but well worth it. If you don't take care of the canister and tubing kit, the wet canister and tubing can grow all sorts of nasty things in it. Then you use it for a breathing treatment, and that is a recipe for disaster. Ask your doctor or home health care how they want you to clean the canister and tubing kit. Also how many times you can use the kit before you should throw it away.

You should practice putting the kit together and taking it apart. So if you are in a hurry and your child is really sick, you will be able to do it without any trouble. You would be surprised how you can panic when your child is struggling to breath. You can completely blank out and forget things. I know this from personal experience and 12 hospitalizations for my kid's asthma. It can be scary. So practice, practice, practice.  

You'll thank me later!    


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to school time-talk to your kid's teachers!



(WinningwithAsthma.org)

Today I just sent an email to all of my daughter teachers. It's a new school and I need all of them to know about the problems Kitty has with her asthma. She may not have any problems while she's in class, but what if she does? Will they know what to do?

Have they ever seen an asthma attack?! It's scarey!!!!!!!

There is an online training, called Winning with Asthma. It's supposed to be for coaches, but it's a good 'Asthma 101' video for anyone to watch. I sent the link to Kitty's teachers and asked them if they would please watch the training. It talks about asthma and shows how to treat an asthma attack.  


I also need to send an email to Son #2's teachers about his asthma. His asthma is much worse. He misses a lot of school which causes problems when teachers are going to give him an incomplete for missing so many days each semester. Last year, we had to call Asthma Doc and have him fax a paper over saying that Son #2 has asthma, it's a chronic condition, and that he is going to miss more days than the average student. I don't want him held back from graduation because he's missed too many classes.


Just remember that asthma can hit at any time and the chances that the school nurse will be there is slim. In our area, our school nurses work really hard and take care of a LOT of students. They cover 5-9 schools. That means they are in the kid's school about 4 hours a week. I told Son #2 "if you're going to have an asthma attack, make sure that it's on Monday between 8:00 and 12:00, because that's when School Nurse is there!" Ha! Like you can plan an asthma attack.

I would like the teachers to know what to do too. Of course my kids can use their inhalers by themselves, but it's nice to know that teachers can help my kids if they need it. The Winning with Asthma online training is free and it will help educate your teacher about asthma and how to help your kids.

After all, you never know when the teachers might need to use it.....


Monday, August 20, 2012

Generic Singulair is in pharmacies now!!!!!!!






It's here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, I need a life. I am excited because generic Singulair is in pharmacies now! I was picking up another prescription and casually asked the pharmacist when they would be getting the generic Singulair. I knew the FDA had approved it, but I thought it would take a while to be produced and be on store shelves. Wrong!

You can ask your pharmacist for it today. I thought I would have to get another prescription, but my pharmacist said unless the doctor has written "no generic substitutions" we could switch to the generic version. I excitedly asked the pharmacist to run it through to see how much it would be. He said it was $10. I gasped and rolled my eyes. He asked how much I normally pay for Singulair. My copay is almost $50 a month (times 3 for my 3 kids)


So, instead of paying $100 for the two bottles you see above, I only paid $20. I quickly sent a message to my son living out of state and told him to ask his pharmacist for the generic version too.

When you have a family of 5 that has allergies, and 4 of the 5 of us have asthma, the costs really add up. We spend a LOT of money and time at the pharmacy.

Now that Singulair is generic, it will help my budget. Now I need to refill my Advair, that will be about $60. If Advair would just go generic now too.....

Monday, August 13, 2012

Climbing high altitudes with asthma



I live in a high altitude location, it's about 5,000 feet above sea level. I'm used to it, but many people who visit here have a hard time.

Our friend recently scaled Mount McKinley (also known as Denali) in Alaska. This is one of those climbs that takes 3 weeks and requires you to stop at different elevations along the way and to let your body adjust.  Since the peak of Denali is at 20,000 feet, the altitude causes a lot of problems. Our friend was telling us how hard it is to breathe during the climb. He said even the smallest chore was difficult and he would have to stop and try to catch his breath. At one point, he was trying to cut a small block of snow that he would use to stack up and create a wall (to block the wind.) He was having such a hard time breathing that he could only saw the snow three times with his knife, before having to stop. He was so exhausted and low on oxygen that he gave up and huddled in his tent. 

I wondered what it would be like to hike an elevation that high with asthma. I know all too well how hard it is to breathe during an asthma attack. But add altitude plus cold wind temperatures (a trigger for me) and I wouldn't make it out of the airplane that drops the climbers off at the base camp!

Do inhalers even work at that altitude and temperature? Do they freeze? What do climbers do that have asthma?

The website LiveStrong has a section on climbing with high altitude. Besides hyperventilating, you can experience Acute Mountain Sickness and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema. To read more about those conditions, click here. 

You may not be scaling a 20,000 foot mountain, but if you are climbing something smaller this summer check with your doctor. Especially if you live in a low altitude area. He may have a different way of treating your asthma if you are visiting high altitudes. We only have one set of lungs, and we need to take care of them. After all, we have a lot of years left and they need to keep us alive!



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Another fun kid's video game!

(American Lung Association)

I signed up to get monthly newsletters from American Lung Association, and found this on their website. It looks like a fun video game for kids! Here's what the website says:

The city of Lungtropolis is under attack from the mucus mob, and it’s up to your child to save it! When kids visit Lungtropolis, they become asthma control agents and conquer the mucus mob. While playing, they watch videos and get helpful tips to learn how to control their asthma.
I started playing the game to see what it was like. It's high quality and very entertaining! And I think kids will learn a lot on here. If you want to try it, click here.

There's also a site for parents on the same page. So if you want something to keep your kids busy this summer, let them try the game. You might want to try it too, to see how much you know about asthma!

Have fun!

Monday, August 6, 2012

FDA approves generic singulair- yay!!!!!


I heard a clip about Singulair on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Anytime I hear anything about allergies or asthma, my ears perk up.

This was good news indeed, I've been waiting for Singulair to go generic. With 3 kids taking Singulair year round, the cost really eats into our budget. When the kids first started on Singulair years ago, it was only $28 per month, now I am paying almost $50 a month (times 3!!!!!!!!!!) And then there's all of the other asthma medication they take.....

The story on the NBC Nightly News said that the FDA has approved 10 companies to market a generic form of Singulair. No news on when it will actually hit the market and be available for us to buy at the pharmacy. To read more on the story, click here.

That means I probably will have to ask Asthma Doc to re-write the kid's prescriptions so we can get the generic version. But, we're there once a week anyway getting allergy shots, so that shouldn't be a problem.

For all of you that have kids with multiple allergy and asthma medications, this should help your budget. Now if the co-pay for Advair wasn't so expensive.....   


Friday, August 3, 2012

Water damage=not good for asthma



I noticed the paint surrounding the tub in my historic home was a little bubbly. Hubby assured me that "he was keeping an eye on it." Since we had a leaking ceiling in our last home, which lead to a ceiling and walls filled with mold, I am a little paranoid about water leaks. (That room took several months to fix......after which our insurance company cancelled us for filing a claim for black mold.)

So this week, I decided to pull off the paint and wet plaster so Hubby could fix the bathroom wall. That's easier said than done. We have an access panel on the wall behind the tub, which you can't get to because the toilet is there. So this will not be an easy fix. Hubby will have to pull out the toilet to get to the access panel behind the shower. THEN he gets to see where it is leaking and if he can fix it. Hubby can fix just about anything. He's a handy guy to have around!

Water leaks can lead to mold, which is NEVER good when you have asthma. To see what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends to clean up mold, click here. 

It's important to follow their instructions, since mold spores can cause an allergic reaction in some people. The EPA recommends:
  • Fix the plumbing leak
  • Dry all items completely
  • Scrub mold off hard surfaces using soap and water
  • Some things that soak up water (ceiling tiles, carpet) may need to be thrown away
Some area that are too big require a professional to come in and fix it. The EPA recommends getting a professional if the area is bigger than 3" by 3". That's what we had in our previous home, so we had to have a company come in and take care of it. They wore respirators and were very careful at each step.

This area is small, and Hubby can most likely fix it. It's a long process-fixing the leak, cleaning up, patching the area, waiting for things to dry out before you can repaint. But water leaks don't go away on their own. It's important to NOT WAIT and get it fixed as soon as possible. Little leaks can cause big problems!
 

 


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Olympics athletes with asthma

(Shutterstock)

This isn't an Olympic athlete, but you get the idea.

In a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and reported yesterday in Science Daily, it was found that asthma is the most common chronic condition among Olympic athletes. ( I could have told them that!) They studied athletes during the last 5 Winter and Summer Olympics, from 2002-2012. Their study shows 8% of athletes have asthma.

 
That's the same rate as the rest of the population. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 8.2 % of American adults have asthma (that's 18.7 million people!) 9.4% of kids have asthma, (that's another 7 million kids!)  

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American says that "asthma is the most common chronic illness among children." Asthma also the #1 cause of missed school days among children every year-causing about 13 million missed days of school.

For those of us with asthma, we're in good company with Olympic athletes! Many of them have asthma too, but they can still train and compete.

We shouldn't let asthma slow us down either. Know what your "triggers" are, or what causes symptoms for you. Talk to your doctor and figure out how to stay active. Cold weather really bothers me, so I don't walk outside in the winter if it's below freezing temperatures. Heat bothers me too, so I walk in the mornings when it's not as hot. Know what bothers you and figure out another way or time to exercise. It's important to take care of your lungs, we only have one set. And sometimes they don't work so well when you have asthma!

Make a plan with your doctor, and keep exercising and stay healthy!  If Olympic athletes with asthma can exercise, we can too! (Not at their level of course, but we can still stay active!) Go USA!!!!