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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In the hospital over the holidays?

This is the time of year when lots of cold and flu is going around, and that means that sometimes kids can end up in the hospital.

So, what if that happens to you? 

Start by being prepared! When my kids were little, they were in the hospital 12 times for asthma. It seems like as soon as they got over one illness, their nose would start to run, and I would think "This can't be happening.....they are getting sick-again??!!" A simple cold for my kids would often turn into pneumonia, which would mean another hospitalization.

I asked my doctor what to do if the kids got worse after 5:00 when his office closed. He told me about the after-hours network. In our area, many of the pediatricians work together on a network and take turns working nights. So, if my kids were getting worse, and it couldn't wait until morning, I would just call my pediatrician's office. They would have a recording that would list which doctor was on call that night, the phone number and address of the office. It got to the point where I knew were ALL of the other pediatrician's offices were!

I would always stress out, but I could call and easily get an appointment for after hours. Often, they would give my kids an injection of steroids, a breathing treatment with the nebulizer, and start them on an antibiotic. Sometimes, that's all they would need for them to turn the corner. Other times, they would take one look at my kids and send us to the pediatrics ward of our hospital. They would call ahead with the orders to admit one of the kids, and the nurses would get the room ready.

So, you may find yourself in the hospital during one of the holidays. We have spent birthdays there, 4th of July and New Year's Eve. There's nothing you can do, so just accept that you are going to spend the holiday there. On the plus side, our pediatrics ward is stocked with blankets, toys, etc. And my kids would get spoiled from the kind people who had donated things to the hospital.  (Of course the kids have to be REALLY sick to be admitted in the first the least they can do is make it a little more fun for the kids by spoiling them with toys or blankets)

You may be unprepared, but the nurses are there to help. Not only your child, but you as well. The nurses have loaned me scrubs to sleep in (when I came straight from work in a suit and high heels!)  They also have toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, socks, etc for parents. When I didn't want to leave my kid's rooms, the nurse would give me juice, crackers, etc. to tide me over until Hubby could make it to the hospital to "switch shifts" . He would first head to the cafeteria, grab dinner and we would eat together on our child's hospital room. Then I would head home, and Hubby would spend the night. (It helps if you pack a foam bedroll too-the pull out beds are really thin!)  We would switch off often during the day, so one of us could go home and shower and check on the other kids. It also helps if you take turns sleeping in your child's hospital room. After a while, the constant beeping of the machines can really get to you. As can the constant interruptions of sleep to check vital signs, give breathing treatments, etc.

 Just remember, the nurses are there to help you. They are helping to save your child's life! We are always VERY kind to them and thank them for all of their help. After one of the kids would be discharged from the hospital, we would return later with a box of donuts and a thank you card with a picture of our kids. Maybe that's why the nurses always remembered us and would say, "You are back again??!!" Yes, we loved our nurses, but not enough to go back and see them time again!!

So, if you find yourself in the hospital with child, try to make the best of it. You will be scared, worried, tired, and cranky. Your mind will be worried about the other kids at home, work projects, and countless other things. But there's nothing you can do about it, except take one hour at a time. Hope they improve, and try sleeping in hospital scrubs, they're actually kind of comfy!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Nut allergies caused by your mom eating nuts? NOT SO FAST!!

Okay, all you moms who are tired of "mom guilt" - aren't you tired of feeling guilty for all the things you did/did not do during your pregnancy? Everything seems to be "mom's fault?"

Now comes the debate whether eating nuts while pregnant will protect your child from nut allergies. I just watched a story on ABC news about this very topic. They shared information from a newly published study from the Journal of American Medical Association.The study found that:
"when pregnant women ate more peanuts and tree nuts they tended to have children with fewer nut allergies" 
 The story on ABC News said that the study only showed an "association" not a "cause and effect." What does that mean? Researchers are very reluctant to say "one thing causes another thing" or that "doing one thing helps prevent another."  So, they will probably want to do more research.
Does that mean that you can have a peanut butter sandwich if you are craving it? One of the doctors interviewed in print version of the story, Dr. Samuel Freidlander, still wants women to be careful.
 He says: “The advice is to eat a healthy diet and we don’t quite know whether avoidance [of allergens] is helpful or not,” said Friedlander of advising pregnant women on what to eat. “It shows also that we need to be careful about recommendations that we make.”  

 Nuts are one of those things to be careful about. Especially if you have a family member that is allergic to nuts (or anything else!) Son #2 is allergic tree nuts (not to be confused with peanuts), and it's VERY important that we check all food that we eat. This week, we were at a friend's house, and Son #2 asked the hostess if the cookies have nuts. She said, "no, but these do"-pointing to cookies with nuts that were ON THE SAME PLATE. I don't think that people without allergies understand how deadly food allergies can be.

Son #2 can't eat anything that is on the same tray with another food that has nuts. If one cookie has nuts, that means the whole tray/display case is contaminated, and off limits!!! I don't know if they have used the same cookie sheet and spatula to cook both batches of cookies. If they did, that means everything is contaminated with nuts. 

When I bake, I make sure I use a newly washed cookie sheet, clean bowls and utensils to make cookies. If I ever make another batch and add nuts to a recipe (which is rare) -I make sure that I mix and bake that batch AFTER the batch that is nut-free. I store them in separate containers and make sure Son #2 knows that the batch has nuts. (I only put it in a dessert that he won't eat in the first place.)

If you have food allergies, make sure everyone knows what you are allergic to. ALWAYS carry your Epi Pen, and make sure that those around you know how to use it in case you are accidentally exposed to a food allergen. You may be having problems breathing/starting an anaphylactic reaction, when that happens, you may be unable to use your Epi Pen. Those around you may need to give you your shot. If you have every seen someone going into an anaphylaxis reaction, you know what I am talking about. I have seen it once on Son #1 after he had allergy shots. I NEVER want to see that again as long as I live!!!

These are the symptoms to watch for:

  • Skin reactions, including hives along with itching, and flushed or pale skin (almost always present with anaphylaxis)
  • A feeling of warmth
  • The sensation of a lump in your throat
  • Constriction of the airways and a swollen tongue or throat, which can cause wheezing and trouble breathing
  • A weak and rapid pulse
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting
Watch the story above and decide if eating nuts while pregnant is right for you. It's interesting that the study seems to show that when the mom eats a MODERATE amount of nuts during her pregnancy (4 or 5 times a MONTH) it may protect her baby. If you already have kids with nuts allergies, make sure they are being seen by an allergy doctor and that you ALWAYS have your Epi Pen with you. It can save your life (or your child's life!)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Prednisone and Decadron....necessary evil!

For those of you who have been on steroids/had kids on steroids, you know how this guy feels. You feel a little nuts-that's one of the side effects of the medicine.

Steroids are needed sometimes when asthma is getting really bad, and the doctor needs to get the swelling down in the lungs-fast! In our experience, steroids can sometimes help keep my kids out of the hospital. But, it wouldn't work every time for us, sometimes the kids would still end up in the hospital. (Actually, they have been admitted to the hospital 12 times for asthma...but that's another story for another day!)

We have a bottle of Prednisone at home for each of the kids. Asthma Doc knows that when my kids get sick, they go from a little sniffle to dangerously ill very fast! He has given me strict instructions of when to give the kids Prednisone. (Depending on how old your kids are, there is a liquid version or pill.) Sometimes the medicine would be enough to keep the swelling down in their lungs and we could avoid going to the hospital. 

Other times, they would keep getting worse. So we would go back to Asthma Doc, and he would give them a SHOT of Decadron. Yep, not only is bad enough that you have a REALLY sick kid, but then they have to get a shot! Asthma Doc said that Decadron is a stronger steroid than Prednisone and by giving them a shot, it would get into their bodies and work quicker. 

But be warned that if you or your child takes a steroid, there are some not-so-fun side effects.
Here are just a few from Webmd:

mood changes
increased appetite 

Doesn't that sound fun??!! Click on the link above to see all of the side effects.

Yes, there are some side effects, but that's why Prednisone and Decadron have been called a "necessary evil." Either my kids get the medicine, or they stop breathing. For us, it's pretty simple. Eventually, they start acting human again. There are days when they seem absolutely crazy!! Just know that it is just temporary, and you may have to adjust how you deal with your kids. (They really aren't in their "right minds!") You may have to just take a deep breathe and wait until the course of medicine is over. We also warn family members and friends so they don't think our kids have gone crazy. 

Ask your doctor about it. Most doctors don't like to give steroids unless they absolutely have to. And you have to follow the instructions VERY CAREFULLY. It's important that you "taper down" (slowly decrease the doses) If you stop suddenly, it can cause more problems for you.   

But, steroids can do wonders for asthma. Hopefully you won't ever need to use it, but if you do and you think you/your child is losing their mind. Just know that's only temporary! Good luck!! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A dog for Christmas?

Is anyone planning on getting a puppy for their kids for Christmas? This is Neighbor Dog, we babysit her once a week. She is soooooo cute, I mean how can I resist that face? Especially when she looks up under those big bushy eyebrows!

At first, I was really nervous about having a dog in our house. Hubby and I and all 3 kids have allergies, and everyone but Hubby has asthma. So, when we started to babysit (or dog sit) Neighbor Dog, I wasn't so sure how it would turn out. It affected our allergies at first, but we seem better now. We don't sneeze and wheeze as much as we used to.

I just read an article in The Wall Street Journal, and I had to look at the title twice, because it said  "How Dogs Might Protect Kids Against Asthma: Gut Bacteria."  

Huh?! The first line in the article sums it up:

"Scientists studying why pets appear to protect kids against asthma and allergies say the answer might lie in the world of bacteria that live in the gut." 
 Like all experiments, they were done on mice. But the study showed that mice that were exposed to dust from households that have dogs, had a change in the gut microbes. When they were exposed to allergens, they had "significantly reduced allergic responses." (The mice didn't over-react to the dust!!) 

Why is that important? Because with asthma, the body over-reacts (it's called hyper-responsiveness and hyper-reactivity) to things "normal" people (aka people who DON'T have allergies and asthma) experience.That's why some people can pet a cat or dog and it's not a big deal. But if someone with allergies and asthma pets a cat or dog, the body over-reacts. Our noses run, throat itches, eyes swell up, we start sneezing, and can have an asthma attack. All from just petting a dog or cat. Stupid bodies. Why do they have to do that??!!

So, it sounds like if you have a baby, and you have a dog, that being exposed to the dog will sort of de-sensitize the baby. It will help their immune system, so their bodies won't over-react to things they are exposed to. That's basically the same thing my kids had to do, but instead of living with a dog, they all had to have 5 year's worth of allergies shots to de-sensitize their bodies. 

I'm not saying having a dog will replace allergy shots, but if it can help their bodies from over-reacting to allergies, I would do it! I mean, dogs are A LOT cuter than the needles they use for allergy shots. 

Read the article for yourself, and let me know what you think. My teenagers are WAY to old to try getting a dog and see if it helps their allergic response. So, we'll keep dog-sitting Neighbor Dog. But, if and when my college aged sons get married, maybe they should consider getting a dog to protect their future families.....just a thought!  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday stress and asthma

This is how I am feeling lately. Work has been VERY stressful and I have had a LOT of big deadlines. Add on top of that the stress of the holidays, and this picture about says it all.

We decided to start with holiday preparations early this year (so I wouldn't be stressed out) , but I am still behind! (And I AM stressed out!!) 

We took our family photos early in the fall. We don't use a professional photographer -we just try to find a nice background, set up the camera and tripod and tell the teenagers "okay, everyone act like you like each other!"

We also started early with shopping for family, deciding which charities to buy things for, which  goodies to make for the neighbors, figuring out travel plans, etc. But I looked at the calendar yesterday, and saw that it was the 15th of December. Oh no! Only 10 days until Christmas- that's next week??!! Argggggh. 

Okay, take a deep breath. Did you know that stress can make asthma worse? Web md has a great section about stress and asthma. 

There's a vicious cycle of anxiety causing problems with asthma, and then you are anxious because your asthma is flaring up, and it goes around and around in a circle.

So, how do you break the cycle of stress/anxiety and asthma? Well, find whatever works for you, we're all a little different. I love funny movies, Elf is my personal favorite during Christmas. I have many of his best lines memorized "We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup" Sometimes when I'm stressed out, I'll watch a collection of Elf clips on Youtube.

The Webmd site has several things listed that can help, such as:

Get plenty of sleep
Exercise daily
Reduce stressors
Avoid stressful situations (and I might add avoid stressful PEOPLE!!)
Delegate responsibilities
Get help!
Use relaxation techniques

The website goes into detail on all of these. The holidays can be survived (and even enjoyed!) if you are careful and pace yourself. Some things can be eliminated. Last year, we didn't send out Christmas cards....and the sun came up the next day and life went on!! If your to-do list is too much, cross things off. We have already crossed off several annual traditions because we just can't fit them in.

Take care of yourself and your asthma. The holidays aren't any fun if you are stressed out and having asthma flare ups. Check out the webmd site and see if any of the 'managing stress and asthma tips' will help you. Until then, keep watching funny Elf clips on Youtube...


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Allergy pills instead of allergy shots? Oh yeah!!!!!

If you have allergies like me, just looking at this picture may make your eyes water!! You just know that if you walked through this path, your eyes would water, your nose would run, your throat would start to itch, and you would start making LOTS of mucus. (And possibly start coughing and have to use your asthma inhaler.) 

Did you know that 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have allergies? And 2 1/2 million of us get allergy shots every week or every month?! That's A LOT of time spent at Asthma Doc's office!!

I was excited to watch the NBC Nightly News last night and see a story from Dr. Nancy Snyderman. There are TWO new allergy pills being reviewed by the FDA, they are already being used in Europe. If you suffer from grass allergies, this may be worth checking into. The only drawback is that the pills just treat broad grass allergies. 

With allergy shots (immunotherapy), the serum covers more allergens and they can be personalized for better results. All three of my teenagers have had/are currently having allergy shots. They are all allergic to multiple triggers (grass, trees, bushes, flowers, cats, dogs, horses, etc,)  So each teenager has had a different serum created just for them and what they are allergic to.

  If you have grass allergies and hate needles, or have a hard time getting to the allergy doctor's office every week for allergy shots, the pills may be a good choice for you. The FDA just approved a daily pill, (Oralair) for grass allergies. You place the pill under your tongue to melt. Today (December 12th) the FDA is reviewing, Grastek.  

They may not be the best choice for everyone, so talk to your doctor. I'm not sure how they are monitored, but I know that with my teenager's allergy shots, they have to be given in the doctor's office every week. We also have to wait 20 minutes after the shots because there is a chance you can have an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis.) 
I've seen anaphylaxis once with my oldest son (after allergy shots) , and I never want to go through that again as long as I live. It was terrifying! :(

So, pills or allergy shots to treat allergies? Well, since there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for allergies and asthma, it may work for you or your children. But it probably won't work for my daughter, since she has many more allergies than just grass. But for the rest of you, do the happy dance!!  I would be easier to take a pill every day rather than driving to Asthma Doc's office and getting allergy shots once a week....

 (And you might want to call your doctor and pharmacy and see how soon the pills we be in the pharmacy. It may also be a good idea to see if your insurance will cover the pills.) 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Brrrrr.....cold as an asthma trigger

This are the beautiful mountains by my house, I have an amazing view from my living room window! We're actually going to have a white Christmas this year! The last few years, we didn't have much snow, but it was VERY COLD.

This year, I have already been out shoveling snow (over, and over, and over again....) The snow is beautiful, but it is soooooo cold outside. We dropped 30 degrees in temperature in one day. We were making a mad dash to the hall closet to pull out everyone's coats, hats and gloves. And checking to see if last year's snow boots still fit. Brrrrr.

I love the snow, because it makes everything look so magical. The thing I don't like this year, is that like last year, we have record cold temperatures. This is what my dashboard looked like this morning on the way to work: 
Yes, you're looking at that right, it's 3 degrees Fahrenheit!!! Luckily, I park my car in the garage overnight, so I don't have to scrape the ice off the windows. This morning, when I finished my work out at the gym and got back in the car, there was ice on the INSIDE of my windows. I guess the warmth of my breath as I drove to the gym froze on the inside of the windshield! 

Cold temperatures also happen to be one of my asthma triggers. So my chest is a little tight this morning, my throat has been a little "twitchy", and I feel the constant need to cough. So, what do you do if cold is an asthma trigger? The first thing I do is make sure I ALWAYS have my inhaler with me so I can use a puff if I need to. I also minimize my time outdoors, but I can't avoid having to walk from my car to the gym/ office /house, etc. 
One thing that seems to help me is to put my scarf over my mouth and breathe through that. It seems to help warm up the air before I breathe in. You can also pull a "Darth Vader." (That means cupping your hands in front of your mouth and breathing in and out to warm up the air.)

Has anyone else found something that seems to help them? Children's Hospital of Wisconsin has some good tips about cold weather and asthma.

Winter and snow can be a magical time, and you can still have fun if you are careful. Just remember to listen to your body, and if you feel like your lungs are acting up, get inside and warm up!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Alpha-1 can be confused with asthma

I'm on of those old-fashioned people that like to read the newspaper in the morning before I go to work. Yes, an actual newspaper! You know, the paper that some people still get on their driveway every morning. (And then I have to shuffle out to get it in my big fuzzy bathrobe and hope that none of the neighbors see me....... )
This week I read an article about Alpha-1 Awareness month. I've never heard of it before, so I thought I would scan the article. I'm always interested in learning something new.....trying to keep the old brain cells nice and sharp you know! 

"Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1) is a genetic (inherited) condition – it is passed from parents to their children through their genes. Alpha-1 may result in serious lung disease in adults and/or liver disease at any age. "

What caught my attention is how Alpha-1 can be misdiagnosed as asthma. Here are the symptoms that they list:

The most common signs and symptoms of disease caused by Alpha-1

Symptoms related to the lung:
  1. Shortness of breath
  2. Wheezing
  3. Chronic bronchitis, which is cough and sputum (phlegm) production that lasts for a long time
  4. Recurring chest colds
  5. Less exercise tolerance
  6. Asthma that can’t be completely reversed with aggressive medical treatment
  7. Year-round allergies
  8. Bronchiectasis
One woman, Diane Angell, shared her story on a medication website :
"Gasping for air while cross-country skiing or coughing uncontrollably whenever around perfume or smoke, Idaho (US) native Diane Angell had always attributed her chronic shortness of breath to asthma.
"As a child, I noticed my mother’s chronic cough and constant use of cough drops," Diane said. "When I was in my 20s, I also developed a chronic cough. I was eventually diagnosed with asthma, but I didn’t feel my body was responding to the medication I was prescribed."
It wasn’t until Diane was in her early 40s and visiting her physician with gastrointestinal issues that tests showed signs of emphysema in her lungs."

Alpha-1 also affects the liver. 

Symptoms related to the liver:
  1. Unexplained liver disease or elevated liver enzymes
  2. Eyes and skin turning yellow (jaundice)
  3. Swelling of the abdomen (ascites) or legs
  4. Vomiting blood (from enlarged veins in the esophagus or stomach)
If any of these things sound familiar, check with your doctor. Alpha-1 can be diagnosed with a blood test. It's important to know exactly what condition you have (asthma or Alpha-1) if you're going to treat it properly. 
I'm hoping that all of us can take care of our lungs and keep breathing!


Monday, December 2, 2013

"Tis the season!!

I love my calendar of daily cartoons from Argyle Sweater. This one REALLY made me laugh! It's a spoof of Julie Andrews (from The Sound of Music) trying to sing "My Favorite Things." Remember, the song that says "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens..." but the cartoon character is saying "raidrobs od roses ad whizkerz od kiddeds....." she must have a horrible cold.

It's that time of year again, cold and flu season! In fact, I'm a little surprised because I usually get really sick with pneumonia every fall. And it hasn't hit yet. KNOCK ON WOOD!!! 

When I get really sick (thanks to asthma), I can't sing, let alone talk. I can't get enough air in to talk, so I just whisper. One year, I was sick with pneumonia on my birthday. I couldn't get enough air out to blow out my candles. I just looked at them as they were burning and thought "this is so sad, guess I'll just watch them burn." Hubby took pity on me and blew out my birthday candles for me. But to make matters worse, I couldn't taste my cake either, so it was really a bad birthday!

So, how do you stay healthy?

Do you get the flu shot? There's a crazy debate going on right now with some of my Facebook friends. Yikes!

How careful are you about washing your hands? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a whole page about hand washing. Are you thinking, "how hard can it be?!" The CDC says you should lather up your hands for at least 20 seconds. Do you wash your hands for that long? It's how long it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice (in your head of course, you don't want everyone thinking you are crazy!) CDC also recommends washing your hands:  

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After touching garbage
Another important thing to remember is to not touch your face, eyes, nose or mouth. That allows germs to get into your body. I look a little strange, but I always use a scarf, sleeve of my shirt, or jacket to scratch my nose. I stick my thumb in one side of my shirt, and bend over so I can use my clothes to scratch my nose, chin, whatever else is itching. It looks weird, but at least I don't touch my face that way. 

Many people think "Well, I don't touch my face that often", but you can do an experiment. You can put glitter on your hands, and then check to see how much of it ends up on your face. That will show you how many time you touch your face. We've done that in my kid's school classes when they were younger. It's also interesting to see that you can't wash the glitter off your hands with just water. Have the kids try it. It will only come off if you wash your hands with soap and water.

Does anyone have anything that they use to stay healthy? My friend swears that eating hot salsa will knock out her cold (and everyone around her that smells her onions and garlic breath!)

I would be interested to hear what other people use.  Until then, keep washing your hands, and don't touch your face!!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Tis the season for using the fireplace....

As you can see, we decided to start decorating for Christmas! Usually I'm one of those one-holiday-at-a-time!!!!! kind of people. But this year, Thanksgiving is a week later than normal, and my irresistibly sweet teenager FINALLY talked me into it.  

Hubby also decided that since it is VERY cold outside now, we should use the fireplace. He likes the cozy feel of a fireplace. It has been an ongoing "discussion" between us. We have an older home, and as soon as we signed our names on the dotted line, EVERYTHING started to leak, short out, flood, break, etc. 

We had so many ongoing problems that I refused to let Hubby use the fireplace until he had it inspected. With our luck, I was sure that if we used it, our house would burn down. We've had so many strange things happen with our house, it actually wouldn't surprise me....

So, 10 years later, he finally paid to have an inspector come and check out the fireplace and chimney. It was actually in good shape! 

So, he lit a fire. And I waited. I was a little concerned because our 3 teenagers and I all have asthma. All night, my chest was tight. And I was coughing. And had that "twitchy" feeling in my throat. And
 I had to use my inhaler. 

The next morning, our living room still smelled a little smoky. It may have been from the left over ash. Hubby wanted to make sure it had cooled down before he put the ashes outside. I have heard stories about people who THOUGHT their ashes were cool, but the ashes actually ignited and started their garbage can and house on fire.

So, now what? I wanted to know if it was just me, or if there is a problem with fireplaces and asthma? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a page about fireplaces and asthma. Here is a quote from their website:

"Smoke from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces contain a mixture of harmful gases and small particles. Breathing these small particles can cause asthma attacks and severe bronchitis, aggravate heart and lung disease and may increase the likelihood of respiratory illnesses. If you're using a wood stove or fireplace and smell smoke in your home, it probably isn't working as it should."

I'll have to have a talk with Hubby about using our fireplace. He did say that he would only use the fireplace for "special occasions." I have a friend that uses hers EVERY night. I know that in our state, it's actually illegal to use it during days when the air quality is listed as "unhealthy." 

 I know that a roaring fire can seem cozy and it makes you just want to curl up and read a good book. But, if you can't breathe while you are reading....what's the point?

Check out the EPA's website and see what's best for you and your family. I think I'll ask Asthma Doc about it too. For now, I think I will just finish decorating our mantel and skip using the fireplace. At least it will look good, right?!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Another strange thing....

As a follow up to my other blog entry about traveling, it seems like no matter what hotel we stay in, I always have problems with my asthma. I know the room is clean, I check for dust on surfaces. I also look to see if the bed is on a platform (so there's no dust build up under the bed.)

But still, every time I would stay in a hotel this year, I would sneeze and wake up with a tight chest. I would have to use my inhaler EVERY morning. 

With asthma, it can be VERY hard to figure out what is causing (or triggering) and asthma attack. But after my last stay, I FINALLY remembered something Asthma Doc said. 

When he first met us 14 years ago (the 1st time Son #2 was in the hospital) he asked about all sorts of things about our home. Do we have carpet? Pets? Burn scented candles? Have silk flower arrangements? Do we use feather pillows?

I forgot about the last one, feather pillows!! That's what most hotels seem to use. They look so pretty when you check into the room, all lined up on the bed with a nice crease in the top of each one. 

Of course, it's not a big deal to "normal people" aka people without asthma! For those of us that have allergies and asthma (and a body that over reacts to everything......) it can be enough to cause sneezing and wheezing.

I was curious, so I Googled "feather pillow allergies" and found an article on the Livestrong website. They talk about if people are allergic to birds, they may not be able to have down pillows. So that's my problem! All 5 of us (Hubby, myself and all 3 teenagers) are allergic to EVERYTHING! Trees, flowers, grass, cats, dogs, horses, birds, etc. If it's alive, we're allergic to it! We use allergy medicine year's so annoying. It's like a cold that NEVER goes away. Sigh. 

I wonder if I have to be one of those people that carries a pillow with me on through the airport? Hubby (the sensible one) reminded me that I can just take a pillow cover. We use zippered pillow covers on all of the our pillows to protect against dust mites and other allergens. It would be MUCH easier to just tuck a pillow cover in my suitcase rather than haul my pillow around the airport. 

Of course, it could come in handy when I am sitting next to one of "those" people that want to talk the whole flight. Maybe I can just cover my face with my pillow and pretend they aren't there.... 

If you are sneezy and wheezy when you travel, consider packing a zippered pillow cover. Or you can haul your pillow on the plane and cover your head when the annoying person next to you wants to talk for the whole 5 hour flight!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Flying with asthma

(Shutterstock Image)

So, I've been traveling a lot lately. And that means going through security at the airport. Again.

I take out all my liquids and put them in a plastic bag, which goes in the grey plastic bin.....which then rolls through the conveyer belt and goes through the x-ray machine. 

I usually leave my rescue inhaler and Epi Pen (I'm allergic to seafood) in my purse, and send that through the x-ray machine. This time, I stuck my daily maintenance inhaler in my purse too, because I don't like to pack it in my luggage. It would be my luck that it would get lost....

So I had a LOT of medicine in my purse this time!! I always worry that the TSA agents will pull me over and search me because I have an Epi Pen. I mean, for a while you couldn't even carry fingernail clippers on the airplane, and I am carrying something that has a needle in it!

This time, I went through security, and was waved over to the side. (I did get a quick pat down, but nothing too bad.) And then I turned to get my luggage.......but it wasn't at the end of the conveyer belt. Hhhmmmm, that's weird! The TSA agent was still looking at my purse through the x-ray machine, then he was looking at me. I smiled, and reached over and grabbed my carry on. He must have decided that I didn't look too suspicious, because he let my purse go through.

I wonder how many Epi Pens they see a day? He must have thought it was okay because I had two inhalers with it too. Who knows? The guy probably felt bad for me! Maybe he thought, "I'm glad I don't have food allergies and asthma!"

Has anyone else had any interesting stories about traveling with inhalers and Epi Pens? Have the TSA ever given you a hassle about carrying and Epi Pen or inhaler on the plane?

You know, I can never go anywhere without those. With my luck, it would be the ONE time I didn't have my inhaler or Epi Pen with me, and I would need it. 

The joys of having allergies and asthma......

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Are you giving your kids medicine the right way? Only 1 in 169 parents are...

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How hard is it to give kids medicine the right way? Well, it may be harder than you think!  A new study by Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York City showed that only 1 in 169 caregivers gave children their asthma medicine the right way. Yikes!!

What happens if you don't give them their medicine the right way? According to Dr. Douglas Jones, who is an immunologist at Rocky Mountain Allergy and Asthma and Immunology clinic, 
"This poor administration leads to a low concentration of the drug into the lungs, which, in turn, inadequately controls the disease"
I understand that sentence to mean that kids may not have the protective benefits of the medicine when they need it most. If they aren't getting all of the medicine into their lungs, it won't help control the swelling. If your kids already have swelling (or inflammation) in their lungs (which you can't see or feel), then that may put them at risk of getting REALLY sick if they get a cold when their lungs are already swollen. (For our kids, that means pneumonia and being admitted to the hospital...)

Here's a quote from Webmd's website about asthma and inflammation in the lungs:

"People with asthma have red and swollen bronchial tubes. This inflammation is thought to contribute greatly to the long-term damage that asthma can cause to the lungs. And, therefore, treating this inflammation is key to managing asthma in the long run." 
 So, what is the right way to use asthma medicine? There is an asthma telehealth on the Utah Department of Health's Asthma Program website from May 3, 2011 (so scroll down the page until you find the right episode). It's called, "In the world of asthma, device matters." Dr. David Young, PharmD,  is an Associate Professor (Clinical) at the University of Utah. He shows how to use the most common asthma medicine on the market.

He teaches all sorts of cool stuff! Did you know that you shouldn't take 2 quick puffs on your inhaler? Why? There is a reservoir at the base of the inhaler. If you take 2 quick puffs, it doesn't allow time for the air and medicine in the reservoir to mix after the first puff of the inhaler. So, you aren't getting all of the medicine that you THINK you are getting! Watch the telehealth to learn more. You may find that after all these years, you have been using your inhaler wrong!

My asthma medicine is VERY expensive, and I want to make sure all the medicine is making it into my lungs. I paid for it, I'm going to get the most out of my medicine! 

Happy Viewing!! :) 

Monday, November 4, 2013

No insurance? I found a place that helps!! :)

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I was talking to a woman at the gym today (I'm not a morning person, but sometimes I'm awake enough to carry on a conversation.....) and she was talking about her job at the hospital. I said, "Oh, we used to be there ALL the time! My kids have asthma and they were in the hospital 12 times when they were younger. Their asthma seems to be better now that they're older."

She asked how old my kids are now, because she has a son that is almost 26 (which means he will no longer be covered on her insurance.) And that will be a BIG problem because he has diabetes. She said he better find a good job that has insurance!!

We REALLY worry about that with my husband's job. If he ever lost his job, who is going to hire him? Who would want to insure him - with a wife and 3 teenagers who have asthma (and a history of hospitalizations?!!) We would be one of those families that no one would want to insure. I went on the website and here's what it says about covering  pre-existing conditions. :

Being sick doesn't keep you from getting coverage

Starting in 2014, being sick won't keep you from getting health coverage. An insurance company can't turn you down or charge you more because of your condition.
Once you have insurance, the plan can't refuse to cover treatment for pre-existing conditions. Coverage for your pre-existing conditions begins immediately.
This is true even if you have been turned down or refused coverage due to a pre-existing condition in the past.

One exception: Grandfathered individual health insurance plans

The only exception is for grandfathered individual health insurance plans -- the kind you buy yourself, not through an employer. They do not have to cover pre-existing conditions.
If you have one of these plans you can switch to a Marketplace plan during open enrollment and immediately get coverage for your pre-existing conditions.

I still worry because Son #2 has monthly Xolair injections to control his severe asthma (and those cost  hefty $1500 a month.) What if he has to buy his own insurance? The website says that "Grandfathered" plans don't have to cover pre-existing conditions. 

Where do you go for help if you don't have insurance? We use Needymeds to get co-pay assistance for Son #2's Xolair. But they also have a map that lists FREE or LOW COST clinics anywhere in the U.S.  Just click on your state, or enter your Zip Code and it will search for clinics near you. I randomly clicked on a state (Arizona) and found 209 free/low cost clinics.

Don't skip going to the doctor because you don't have insurance. Check out Needymeds to find a clinic near you, and then to find co-pay assistance. Programs are out there, let's use them!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A little trick we learned along the way.....

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If you have kids with asthma, you probably already know that they tend to get REALLY sick. A cold to a "normal" kid is just that - a cold. To a kid with asthma, it can turn into pneumonia. And for us, that would mean another hospitalization. 

My youngest 2 kids (now teenagers) were hospitalized 12 times with pneumonia. (Yes, that was AFTER getting the pneumonia vaccine!!)

One of the doctors gave us a little advice along the way. He told us about a "numbing cream" that can be applied to the back of the hand before an IV needs to be inserted. The brand our hospital used was EMLA.   Why use a numbing cream? Well, when our kids were admitted to the hospital for pneumonia, their oxygen level was usually around 89, it should be closer to 100. If there isn't enough oxygen in the blood, it makes it VERY difficult to get an IV in the vein. 

You (or a child) may have experienced the same thing if you were dehydrated. Being dehydrated or having a low oxygen level affects the veins, the nurse said that it made the veins less plump. That can mean several attempts at finding a "good vein." It can also mean the nurse may need to move the needle around a little to try to find the vein. Talk about scary and painful for a little kid! Most adults can't handle that, let alone a child!! :(

One of the times Son #2 was in the hospital, his oxygen level was really low (only 82) which affected his veins. It took 7 tries to get the IV in. You read that right, 7!! At one point, the nurse filled up disposable diapers with hot water and wrapped those around the back of his hands to try to get the veins to plump up so they could get the IV in. 

Shortly after that, we learned about numbing cream. Every time after that, as soon as we would get to the emergency room, I would ask for the cream. Some of the nurses would just stare blankly at me, they had no idea what I was talking about. I would tell them to go get the doctor, because my kids were NOT going to get an IV until the numbing cream kicked in. (I'm so mean.....) I would have the nurse smear a bunch of cream on the back of both of my kid's hands, then cover it with a plastic covering, then we would wait 30 minutes for the skin to be numb. THEN they could try getting the IV in a vein. 

It's my job as a mom to protect my kids. I can't always take away the hurt and suffering (insert your own mom guilt here). But if there's something like numbing cream that can decrease the pain for my kids, you can BET that I am going to insist on using it!!! I hope you never have a child in the hospital, and may never need to use it. But ask your doctor about numbing cream for IV's. Every doctor and hospital are different, but mine use it. If I can take away a little pain for my kids, you know I will!  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's been one of those days

This is an all too familiar sight with my kids, since they've been in the hospital 14 times (12 of those were for asthma.) Now that my kids are older, things are better.

But for a while, every time they would start to cough or their nose would run, I would panic. For us, a simple cold can go easily turn into pneumonia (thanks to asthma.) That would mean another hospitalization. And we spent WAY too much time at our Pediatrics Ward in the hospital. When you start to know all the nurses and respiratory therapists by name, you know you've been there too many times!

But our family mantra is "Things Can Always Be Worse!"

 I was reminded about that when I was listening to the radio on the way to work. A Brad Paisley song came on, called "One of Those Lives." In the song, he is complaining about it being "one of those days" - because his boss yelled at him, he is stuck in rush hour traffic, and a Cadillac just cut him off. Then his wife calls to tell him about their friend's little boy, and says "the doctor says his cancer is back". Then comes the chorus of the song: 

"Man, it's been one of those days
When I've been thinkin' poor me
I've got no right to complain I guess
'Cause right now all I can see
Is a little angel in a Yankees cap
It makes me realize
It's just been one of those days for me
But for him it's been one of those lives

There are so many families struggling with sick kids. Don't get me wrong, 9 people die every day in the U.S. from asthma. My son almost died twice!! I knew that each hospitalizations would last about 3 days, followed by my son or daughter coming home on oxygen, and then missing a week of school. But MOST OF THE TIME, I knew they would get better. 

Many families have a hard time dealing with the stress of having a sick child. Yahoo Health has an article about how the whole family is affected when you have a chronically ill child. Know that you are not alone in feeling stressed!! The article lists several things to do to help relieve the stress. 

If you are feeling stressed about having a child in the hospital (who wouldn't be?!) Ask your nurse for help. Our hospital has a social worker and psychologist on staff to help family members. They have great coping skills they can teach you. You can also have friends help out by bringing in dinner and taking other children to school/scouts/dance practice, etc. 

If friends say "What can I do to help?" Let them know what you need! One time I was craving home- made, gooey, chocolate chip cookies. So I told my friend that, and she made a batch and brought it to the hospital. It really boosted my spirits!

Keep things in perspective. You can do this! You may have good and bad days, but remember that "Things Can Always Be Worse!!"

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tennessee law makes stocking Epi Pens in schools legal

I just read a story in the Houston Chronicle about a new law in Tennessee. It makes it legal for schools to stock Epi pens for use on any student who may need it. (In the past, it's been difficult for schools to use an Epi Pen unless that student had a prescription.) It also provides legal protection for the staff member who uses it.  If anyone in the school has an allergic reaction, a staff member can use the Epi Pen to save their life. Way to go Tennessee!!!! 

You may think, "Well, my son or daughter doesn't have food allergies, so I'm not going to worry about it!" Yeah, that's what I thought once too! Boy, was I wrong!

The Chronicle article states that:
"About a quarter of anaphylaxis cases in schools occur among students who are not aware that they have an allergy." Yikes!!!!!
 We didn't know that our son was allergic to tree nuts until one day about 10 years ago, when he ate a piece of bread at a family member's house. He took a few bites and said "Mom, I don't feel so good." I couldn't figure out why he would suddenly feel sick and say his throat was itchy. I looked at his slice of bread but couldn't see anything. Then I looked at the bread in the bag. I could see a few tiny pieces of chopped walnuts on the bread. I asked the family member why there were chopped nuts on top of the slices of French Bread. They said that they put the French bread in a bag that had previously had chopped walnuts in it.

I can't remember what happened after that, it was all a blur. I do remember that we went to see  Asthma Doc. They did a skin prick test on Son #2's  back, and Asthma Doc said that he is indeed allergic to tree nuts. 

What if something like that were to happen to your son our daughter while they were at school? It's rare, but it can happen. There are all sorts of things that can cause an allergic reaction. The article lists:

"Aside from bee stings, anaphylactic shock can be a reaction to such foods as peanuts, wheat, shellfish, milk or eggs. The epinephrine is particularly effective in stopping swelling in the throat or tongue that can be deadly, as well as preventing respiratory or cardiac failure."   

One little boy in the article was stung by a wasp. That caused hives on his neck and made him have a hard time breathing. The nurse gave him an injection of Epinephrine. She reports that at the emergency room, the doctor told the family that they are lucky that he was still alive. Without the injection, he may not have made it to the hospital, which was 30 minutes away. Sheesh!

If you have kids in school, talk to your principal and see if your school stocks Epi Pens. Son #2 carries an Epi Pen with him at all times. But what about the students who may not know that they have a food allergy, and have their first reaction at school? Our school district stocks Epi Pen in EVERY school, every year. Just in case.........


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Breathe Easies

I am always on the look out for anything new about asthma. I saw a silly little video about some puppets, The Breathe Easies, who call themselves "the world's most famous (and only) asthma-rock band, here to tell you all about asthma triggers in your home!"

You can find the videos on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website called Attack Asthma.   They have several short videos on their page, each one is less than a minute long. You can watch "Clean Up the Mold", "Don't Smoke in the House" and "Vacuum the floor."

If there's one thing I've learned over the years about asthma, it is how everything around me can affect my asthma, and my three teenager's asthma. I know that making your home and office a safe allergy and asthma friendly place to be is sooooo important!! You can take all the asthma medicine you want, but if someone in the home smokes/ it's not being vacuumed/ things are dusty/you have pets, you're may still have a lot of asthma attacks.

There's a link on the website to another page that teaches about Triggers in the Home (those are all the things that can "trigger" or cause an asthma attack. The weird thing about asthma is that triggers can be different for everyone. What may be a trigger for me, may not be a trigger for my kids. It's interesting to see the list and read all the things that can cause asthma attacks.

Some of the things on the list might be surprising to you. It may also help you figure out what is causing asthma attacks with your family. There's also a cute page with fun things for kids to do, it's called Kid's Stuff.


Have fun looking around on the website!! :)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dealing with teenagers and asthma

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This weekend, I met with a group of other moms who had kids with asthma. It's interesting to talk to other moms and find out all the things we have in common. 

One problem is that when they start their teenage years, they don't tell you what is going on. Unless you hear them coughing, you may not know they are sick/having an asthma attack. They won't tell you that their chest is tight, they are feeling really weak, or that they don't feel well.

Why? Good questions. Teenagers are a strange! I think part of it that they don't want to feel "different." Think about it. Junior high and middle school are tough years. Kids are going through puberty, getting acne, trying to figure out who they are.  And the last thing they want is to FEEL DIFFERENT! They want to "fit in" and be normal. 

They don't want anyone to see them using their inhaler. And, if my teenagers are not feeling well, that means I won't let them head over to a friend's house, go on the weekend scout campout, go to a movie with their friends, etc. Yes, I'm a mean mom. When my teenagers are having big problems with their asthma, I have them stay home and rest.

Asthma Doc always stresses the importance of letting your body heal after an asthma attack/illness. Our lungs need to recover, as does the rest of our body.

So, if may take a little more detective work to see how your teenagers are feeling. You may have to watch for body language and see how they are acting. One of the best things I used was a Peak Flow meter.  Your doctor will have to write a prescription for one.

You blow quickly into a tube that gives you a reading of what your lung capacity is. That always helped me figure out how the kids were feeling (even if they weren't going to tell me......). It has green, yellow, and red zones. So I knew that if they were in the yellow zone, I would have them use their inhaler or have a breathing treatment with the nebulizer.  Then we would cancel activities for the day if they were getting sick.

If you have teenagers, my sympathies! Just kidding. I love my teenagers, but they are hard to deal with at that age. Just do the best you can try to help them with their asthma. And just know that they may hide it from you because they don't want to be the "weird or different" kid in class. Every teenager is different, so figure out how to deal with yours and what works for you. GOOD LUCK!!!!!     

Friday, October 4, 2013

Getting to know your pharmacy

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We spend A LOT of money at the pharmacy. In fact, I just walk up to the counter, and the pharmacy technician (who knows me and all of my family by name) will see me, turn around and grab my multiple prescriptions out of the bin and ring them up.

So, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Should I be a frequent customer? It's kind of like that with my mechanic. Hubby will call, and as soon as they hear his voice, they will say "Which one do you need to bring in? The truck or the van?" Sometimes we trick them and say "Ha!! It's the Jeep this time!!"

So, knowing your pharmacy and mechanic well may not be the best thing, because that means you are probably spending WAY too much time and money there.

But, having good relationships with them is important, because they help take care of us. They can let you know about generic version, or even coupons that are available. They are also good listeners. I used to spend a lot of time talking with Pharmacy Technician at our pharmacy. I would complain every time my insurance company would stop covering a certain drug, and they would make me switch to another one that was cheaper. (Right now, they will only cover one brand of rescue inhaler, so I had to make sure Asthma Doc had that on his record so he prescribes the "right" brand for all of us. Otherwise, instead of paying $20 for a new inhaler, if it was a brand they didn't cover, it would be $75) 

 We would share complaints about red tape, insurance companies, co-pays, etc. She was always so sweet and loving. So, it was quite a shock when I went to pick up 3 prescriptions last night, and they had a notice up about her funeral. WHAT???!!!  I noticed she wasn't there the last few times I picked up prescriptions, but I wondered if she was finally able to quit and stay home and take care of some health problems she was having. I didn't ask the pharmacist about her, because I know they aren't allowed to talk about their employees. 

As I sat there staring at her obituary, I was in shock. I can barely remember sliding my credit card through the machine to pay for the medications. The pharmacist apologized said she was sorry that I had to find out that way, to read an obituary posted on their window. She's probably been doing a lot of that the last few weeks. I just snatched my bag from the counter and ran out of the store, I didn't want anyone to see my crying.

It's just another reminder about being kind and loving to the people we see every day. Whether it's a family member, co-worker, neighbor, Pharmacy Technician,or mechanic. It could be their last day here on earth.

I'm really going to miss her. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Allergy shots

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This is what it looks like to be tested for allergies. All 3 of my teenagers have had this done when they were younger. But my kids had WAY BIGGER welts on their back!!

Before you can do the scratch test (allergy test), you have to stop taking all antihistamines for a week beforehand. My kids are absolutely miserable. Son #1 could only last a couple of days before his hands swelled up and were itching like crazy. Poor guy :(  So we had to postpone doing the testing until Christmastime, when most of the fall allergens had died down.

At our doctor's office, Shot Nurse brings in her container of serums which have a sharp plastic tip.
She marks the kid's back in 3 rows according to category (food, plants, animals, etc.) Then she does a quick scratch of the skin in that row. She goes across all three rows, and then the fun starts!! 

The kids have to lay still on their stomach for 20 loooooong minutes while the welts develop. Then Shot Nurse measures the welts and gives a report to Asthma Doc.The hardest part is getting the kids to not move for 20 minutes. Last time, I distracted my daughter with Cute Cat Videos on Youtube. A little bribery helps too (honey, where do you want to go to lunch?!) There's nothing worse than having your whole back itch, and not be able to touch it-let alone scratch it!

Then Asthma Doc orders a serum based on what the kids are allergic to. Then comes 3-5 years of visiting his office for shots.  They start out with a tiny dose of the serum and then gradually increase the amount. 

We started by going twice a week.That means taking time off work, driving to the office, waiting 20 minutes after shots, and driving back home. It's vital that you wait 20 minutes after shots. You are being injected with a substance that you are allergic to, so you can go into anaphylaxis. Your doctor has minutes to give you a shot of adrenaline or you can potentially die. (Son #2 actually had anaphylaxis the ONE TIME we left shots early. But that's another story.)

Once you get to a certain level (maintenance), you can cut back to once a week, then once every other week. It's a LONG process and you have to plan around everything else. You aren't supposed to be physically active for 2 hours before or after shots. (I think Asthma Doc said the increased blood flow will increase your chance of anaphylaxis-or something like that.) So we have to plan around dance class, soccer, etc, etc. It's hard to find a time to go to shots. And now that Son #1 and Son #2 are adults, they can take her to shots so I don't have to take time off work every week.

If your Asthma Doc recommends allergy shots, it may be worth doing. Some people have allergies so severe that Zyrtec, Claritin or Singulair just aren't enough. If your kids go to bed sneezing/wake you up during the night sneezing/or wake up in the morning sneezing, it may be time to talk to your doctor. 

Until then, pass the tissues.....

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hmmm.....low allergen pets?

Woman's Day has an article in their September 2013 magazine about "Low Allergen Pets." Hmmmm, I have always heard that there ARE NO LOW ALLERGEN PETS.

The article says that "Allergies are often caused by the protein in the pets' skin, saliva and urine, and can be aggravated by dust, pollen and mold that sits on the pet hair." The article then says that "While no cat or dog is 100% hypoallergenic, some allergists say patients report feeling better with certain breeds." I can't pull up the article online, so here is a photo of the article. 

They recommend a few breeds of cats (Devon rex, Siberian, Balinese, Javanese, and Oriental Shorthair) and a few dog breeds (Poodle, Irish water spaniel, Kerry blue terrier, Bedlington terrier, bichon frise and Portugese water dog.)

I have a family member who swears that her prize winning dog is allergen free. Not true. When I am around it, I start sneezing, my nose stuffs up and my chest feels tight.I am definitely allergic to it!

There is another article online from Woman's Magazine that I find very interesting. It is written by an allergy doctor, Sakina S. Bajowala, MD, who is a member of (AAAAI) the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Her article is called "The Truth About Pet Allergies"
Here is one line from the article:
"No pet is completely hypoallergenic. Some animals are bred to have lower levels of certain allergens, but you could be bothered by different ones."  

And another line says:

"The amount of allergen varies from animal to animal, not by the breed or species. You could play with your sister’s schnauzer for hours without so much as a sniffle but break into hives upon meeting your neighbor’s."  I was surprised to read that! I didn't know that I could pet 2 different schnauzers and be fine with the 1st dog, but allergic to the 2nd! Sometimes I pet Neighbor's schnauzer and I don't have a problem. Other times, I pet Schnauzer and I started sneezing, wheezing and coughing. How can I be fine on one day, but not the next? 

Could it be worse if Schnauzer hasn't had a bath for a while? 

Allergies are so complicated! And annoying! My kids would love to have pets, but we can't due to our allergies and asthma. We pet the neighbor's cats and dog, but then we have to go straight inside and wash our hands and arms. And if Cat or Schnauzer jumps up on our lap, we have to go change our clothes. Otherwise we start to get really itchy.

Sigh. Everyone is different, some people with asthma can have pets. If you can, count yourself lucky!!!! :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Curse that perfume!

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Perfume can be the most delicious smell in all the world. There are so many scents of perfume-some are REALLY strong, and others you can hardly smell.

The problem is that they can also trigger an asthma attack. I've never had any problems with perfume until the last year, since then I've had 3 asthma attacks because of someone's perfume.  

I also have a neighbor who suffers asthma attacks from people's perfume. It's always worse when you are stuck in a building (and unable to discreetly walk out of a piano recital, band concert, dance recital, etc.)

This weekend was THE BIG football game. The rivalry around here that everyone waits all year for. There are some pretty funny pranks going on throughout the state that they highlight on the evening news. That's how serious this rivalry is! 

Neighbor was at the game and called to say she was having a hard time breathing because of someone's perfume. She was OUTSIDE, in a stadium, and was still having a hard time breathing. I wonder how much perfume the woman was wearing who was sitting by her?! Neighbor asked if I could drive to the stadium and pick her up. This was a piece of cake since the streets were deserted because most people were already at the game. 

The sad part? Neighbor had to leave her highly sought after seat in the stadium and go home and watch the rest of the game on TV. And the woman wearing the perfume probably had no idea that she had cause someone else to have an asthma attack and that person then had to leave the stadium. 

The website everyday HEALTH  has an article written by an asthma expert, Dr. Anna Feldweg. She  talks about how perfume is an asthma trigger for some people. It's NOT an allergy, it's an irritant. Some things just irritate the airways (perfume, household cleaners and tobacco smoke) when you have asthma. 

What can you do? Not much. Neighbor and I can't exactly go around and tell people to stop wearing perfume. We can keep our inhalers close by so that if we have an attack, we can treat it quickly.

If there is a family member or co-worker that you see all the time and who wears strong perfume, you can sweetly explain the situation to them and ask them to stop wearing the perfume. It's an awkward situation, and I've had to do it several times. 

But on the flip side-not being able to breathe really stinks. Not be mention the fact that asthma attacks are dangerous. Most can be treated, but sometimes they go from bad to worse and you may end up in the emergency room. 

Please think of those of us who have asthma the next time you spray on a lot of perfume. If people can tell where you have been because every room they walk into smells like your perfume, you may be wearing too much!! 

We need to be able to breathe too! :)