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Friday, May 31, 2013

Summer sports camps.....but what about allergies and asthma?

(Utah Asthma Program)

School is out, and it's time for daughter Kitty to go to summer soccer camp. It makes me nervous to send her to camp because of her allergies and asthma. What if she has an asthma attack?

Her allergies are really bad too, even though she's been having allergy shots for 5 years now. Her last skin test showed that she's no longer allergic to grass-kind of a big deal if you play soccer!! But what if she has problems with other allergies due to nearby flowers, plants and bushes?

What if she has an asthma attack? Will the coaching staff know how to handle it? It's not Kitty's normal coach-summer camp is usually run by a bunch of college aged kids.

Last fall I asked Kitty's coach to watch Winning With Asthma. It's a FREE short online video from the Minnesota and Utah state health departments. It teaches coaches what asthma is and how to treat an asthma attack.

Coach watched it and said he felt he would be able to help Kitty if she had an asthma attack. I'm there during games, but not during practice. I want to make sure she will be okay if she needs help.

Ask your child's coach if they will be willing to watch the short video. It's free and the health department will mail a clipboard to the coach. The clipboard includes a booklet that goes along with the video. And the back of the clipboard is printed with info on
  • common asthma triggers
  • signs and symptoms of an asthma attack
  • when to call 911
It only takes 30 minutes to watch the video, but it could save your coach a lot of time and heart ache if your child has an asthma attack and no one on the field knows what to do. It's better to be safe than sorry!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Vacation time-chamge of climate!

(Shutterstock image)

This is the type of air my lungs are used to-dry, dry, dry. Our recent vacation with the teenagers took us to the beach. And my lungs DID NOT like it. Did you know that changes in weather can affect your asthma? The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has a section on their website about what causes or 'triggers' asthma. 

My asthma flared up while we were at the beach, my body wasn't used to the moisture in the air. I used my rescue inhaler several times during the week we were at the beach. But the scenery was worth it!

Check the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America website for more triggers. Asthma triggers are different for everyone and they can change over time. I once had an asthma attack at a movie theater when a group of college girls with strong perfume sat down next to me. I've never had it bother me before that time or since then. Always carry your inhaler with you, just in case you have an asthma attack. And especially if you go on vacation and the climate is different than what your lungs are used to.

Now it's time to unpack and go back to work. Sigh.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lick your baby's pacifiers to reduce the risk of asthma, allergies and eczema??

(Shutterstock image)

I read this story in the New York Times the other day and thought, "Huh??" The article, "Sucking Your Child's Pacifier Clean May Reduce Allergies, A Study Finds" quotes a study from Pediatrics. It shows that infants of parents who sucked on their baby's pacifiers to clean them had lower rates of asthma, allergies and eczema.

The study was based in Sweden, and isn't sure whether it's just the fact that the parents clean the baby's pacifier with their own mouth that passes some sort of protection to their baby. Or is that type of parent more relaxed about germs and letting their kids be exposed to things early in life?

The article says that rather than being overly protective of our children, it's good for them to get a little dirty and be exposed to things in the environment early in life. Does help them start to build up an immunity?  

The study also shows that babies who are born vaginally are exposed to different bacteria (on their skin and in their guts) than babies born via c-section. Babies born vaginally have lower rates of asthma, food allergies and hay fever. Rates of eczema are drastically lower if children were born vaginally. Children who were born c-section and had their pacifiers boiled or rinsed had a 55% chance of having eczema. Those born vaginally and their parents cleaned their pacifier with their mouth had only a 20% chance of eczema. That's a big difference!

So, what's the answer? Make sure your kids are born vaginally and then clean their pacifier with your mouth? That's not always possible, c-sections are the only option for some mothers and babies. And I don't think protecting your kids from eczema, allergies and asthma is as easy as licking their pacifier. But maybe I'm missing something. Read the New York Times article for yourself and decide what you think.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Now Hubby knows how I feel....

(Shutterstock image)

This is what we did-for 6 hours on Saturday. We were helping a family member move and were loading boxes from a garage into the trailer, driving to the new place and unloading the boxes.Up and down the stairs, up and down the stairs.

It was hard work!! And the garage we pulled boxes out of was VERY dusty. The next day, Hubby and I were so tired we could hardly move. (We're not as young as we used to be.....)

Then he said that 'his chest felt tight and it seemed like he needed to cough every once in a while'. I said, "Welcome to my world!!!" That's what it feels like when you have asthma!!

He doesn't have asthma, but has allergies. He's never experienced asthma symptoms before. I usually tell people that when your asthma flares up, it's like trying to breathe through a straw (with your nose pinched shut).

It was weird to have someone who has never experienced asthma-like symptoms complain about it. I guess I get used to the symptoms. But for other people, or for someone who is newly diagnosed, it can feel pretty strange! 

Webmd has a section that talks about Asthma Symptoms It's important to know what they are because every person with asthma is different, and you can have different symptoms at different times. I always cough when my asthma flares up. It will be sudden, and a scary hard cough that almost makes me throw up. But one time I just felt really weak and my chest was tight-but no coughing. So it took me a little longer to realize I was having an asthma attack.

Know what symptoms are of an asthma attack, since they can change. And different people have different symptoms. And keep your inhaler handy. We should have healthy, active lives. But you never know when an attack will happen. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Counters on inhalers....

I think it's a smart idea to put counters on inhalers. It's supposed to help you so you know how many doses are left. The problem is that you have to LOOK at the counter.

I was using my Dulera inhaler last week, and I wondered how many doses were left, so I looked at the counter. It was set on 0. Hmm. I thought I was still getting medicine out of it. I took it out of the spacer and sprayed a puff into the air. I could SEE the medicine coming out. Or was it just the propellant? It looked like the medicine was coming out.

Does the inhaler count to 0 but still leave a few doses in the canister? So those of us that don't pay attention to the 0 can still have a little cushion of a few doses to call the pharmacy and get a refill?

I don't know what the answer is.

But I think now I'll pay more attention to the counter on the inhaler. I just got a new Pro Air inhaler with a counter on that one too. I'll keep an eye on the counter so I don't run out of Pro Air. I would rather run out of my maintenance medicine than my rescue inhaler!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Allergies to food on the rise......oh great!

(Shutterstock image)

A new report says that skin and food allergies are increasing. I guess misery loves company!

I am allergic to seafood, and Son #2 is allergic to tree nuts. Daughter Kitty is having horrible problems with her eczema.

Son #2 and I have to carefully inspect food anytime we eat out. We were at a friend's house last night and they had a candy bowl with plain M & M's, peanuts and almonds. I took a handful but told Son #2 not to eat any because there were almonds mixed in. "Ya, I know" he said confidently. I know he's headed to college, but I'm still in the habit of checking things for him. It's nice to know that he's watching out for himself.

There are A LOT of other people also inspecting their food. The CDC estimates that 1 in 20 people have food allergies (which is a 50% increase since the 1990's). And 1 in 8 people have eczema.

So why are there so many people now who have to carry Epi pens? And why are people also struggling with eczema?

I don't have the answer, but the article lists a few ideas. Click on the link at the beginning of the blog to read the full story.

So, what do you do? They suggest visiting a doctor to make sure you are REALLY allergic to certain foods. Some people confuse food intolerance with food allergy. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) has an article that explains the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance.

As for eczema, there is treatment for that too. AAAAI also has an article about eczema and other skin conditions.

It's something we're going to have to live with for the rest of our lives. Along with asthma. But you can make it a long and healthy life if you take care of yourself.

Knowledge is Power. So read the links above to educate yourself. And carry and Epi Pen!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Summer camp for kids with asthma?!

(American Lung Association Utah)

For those of you that have kids with asthma, you know how scary it can be. The thought of sending them to camp (without you!) can make your heart race.

How do you let your kids experience summer camp without worrying nonstop about them? "Normal kids" have a list of things they take to camp, and maintenance medication, rescue inhalers, allergy medicine, Epi pens and peak flow meters aren't included. But they are for kids with asthma. In fact, all those supplies are mandatory for a camp out. 

They are out in nature after all, with trees, bushes and dust and all the other things that can trigger an asthma attack. Every child with asthma is different and they can all have different asthma triggers. It's best to be prepared and pack all allergy and asthma supplies-just in case.

So how can you send a child with asthma to summer camp? And not worry?

One option is a Camp Wyatt   which is sponsored by the American Lung Association of Utah. There are different camps located in different states. Camp Wyatt supplies round the clock medical chair for your child so you don't have to worry. Here is a list of who will be staffing the camp:

Staff includes over 50 volunteers, including physicians, registered respiratory therapists, registered nurses and trained counselors.
Camp Wyatt is staffed 24-hours a day by physicians and registered nurses, in order to meet the special needs of the campers. In addition, their peak flow is monitored twice a day.
Kids can have fun climbing a rock wall, shooting bows and arrows, swimming, canoeing,  roast marshmallows and many more fun activities. They get to just be a kid and don't have to worry about their asthma because someone is there 24 hours a day to watch over them and keep them safe.

There's a fun video on American Lung Assocation Utah's website so you can what the kids are actually doing at camp. (By the way, the kids also get a little asthma education each day so they can better manage their asthma!) To find a camp in your state, contact your state American Lung Association chapter.

Bring out the s'mores and let's have some fun!!