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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! :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Basement flooded!!!!!!

So, notice ANYTHING missing from my basement? Like, oh I don't know- CARPET!!!

We had a freak storm with high winds that blew rain down the stairs, it filled up the stairwell, then flooded the basement. Woah! It was NOT a fun weekend.

We bravely tried to use shop vacs and suck all the water out. After several hours, and about 20 gallons of water later, the carpet was still soaked. It was no longer floating, but it was sopping wet. We called a disaster cleanup company, but they wouldn't bring out their water extraction equipment because they were so busy with everyone else that was damaged from the storm.  They only had time to tear out the carpet and the pad.

NO WAY am I paying someone $1000 to tear out the carpet and the pad. I'll do it myself!! So Hubby and I and the teenagers spent the morning cutting up the carpet and pad and hauling it out. There was so much water still left in the carpet and pad, that there was a small river running out the back of the truck! Crazy stuff!

We use the basement- A LOT!! That's where the teenagers and their friends hang out, eat pizza and play video games.They are VERY anxious to have the basement fixed so they can reclaim that area.

 But NOT SO FAST!! We learned that although the concrete floor may LOOK dry, it can still be wet. We went to our local hardware store and bought a Moisture Meter. It was only $29. It can tell you how dry the area REALLY is. See the number on our meter? 16.3. It's come down a little, it was over 20 when we first started checking the floor. Now it's down a little. But we have a LONG way to go. The instructions say that it needs to be below 5 for wood (and I think it's below 9 for concrete)

What happens if we're in a hurry and we put the carpet down now and the cement is still wet? We will have a mildewy stinky basement.

I am NOT a patient person, but I AM waiting for this. I want to do it right. I want the moisture level down where it should be before we re-carpet. The last thing we need with asthma is a wet, mildewy basement. So, I will continue to wait.....and check the floor with the meter every day after work. I already have my eye on some gorgeous new carpet for the basement. While I'm waiting, maybe I should paint..hmmmmm 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Thermal bronchoplasty

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ABC News had a great story on TV last night about asthma. Yep, you just say the word asthma and I'm all ears!! I have asthma, as do all 3 of my teenagers (sorry I passed that onto you guys!!) I'm always interested in anything new about asthma.

Did you know that 25 million people in the US have asthma? And 2.5 million have severe asthma (which can be life threatening). One of my sons, Son #2, has severe asthma. He's been hospitalized 8 times and almost stopped breathing twice. Those were scary times!!

Sometimes, you can take A LOT of asthma medication, have 5 years worth of allergy shots, and completely change your home to make it allergy and asthma friendly. But you STILL end up in the hospital repeatedly. For some reason, medication doesn't seem to work well on people with severe asthma.They can have repeated asthma attacks and frequently end up in the emergency room or hospitalized (story of my son's life.....poor guy!!!)

If you watch the ABC News story, it can be REALLY disturbing. It shows a teenager have a severe asthma attack. But it shows an example of retraction.   Retraction is when you have a blockage in your lungs and the muscles are pulling inward to try to help you get air into your lungs. It's a medical emergency!!!! In the video, watch the teenager's collar bone protruding, and the skin sucking in around it. The skin will also pull in around the rib cage. If you ever see that on someone with asthma CALL 911!!!!

So, what do they do with people that have severe asthma? There is a newer treatment called Thermal Bronchoplasty. It is a medical procedure that uses a probe with 4 tiny wires that protrude. (For those of you that cook, it looks like a tiny wire whisk.) The tube goes down into the lungs and the 4 wires zap the sides of the bronchial tube. They say that the temperature is no hotter than a cup of coffee.It's also approved by the FDA.

So does it work????
Yes!!! Studies show that it reduces Emergency Room visits by 78%!!!!!

This isn't for mild or moderate asthma. Just for the 10% of asthma sufferers who have SEVERE asthma. If you have a family member with severe asthma, who doesn't seem to be responding to medication, talk to your doctor about Thermal Bronchoplasty. It could literally save their life!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hmmm.......asthma or whooping cough (pertussis)?

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Having young kids is REALLY hard!!!! It seems like my kids were ALWAYS sick when they were little. I used to think "Is this what parenthood is like??!! This stinks big time!!

I remember sitting in the Pediatrician's office with Son #1, and asking him "Is it just me? Or does it seem like my son is sick ALL THE TIME??!! If he's not coughing, then he has a fever/rash/is throwing up, etc. Just when he gets over one illness, he's sick again. Pediatrician said, "Well, you can let him get exposed to germs now, or keep him home and he'll miss his whole year of kindergarten."

Thanks, that is a comforting thought.....

Kids with asthma are always sicker than "normal" kids (aka kids without asthma) because it affects the lungs so much. Those of us with asthma have lungs that are 'hypersensitive and hyper-responsive' ie "the drama queen affect." When our lungs are exposed to a 'trigger' or an illness, our lungs go into overdrive. That means swelling, mucus production and broncho-constriction (the bands that surround the bronchial tubes tighten and shorten.) So all 3 of those things make it harder to breathe. 

What if your child is coughing, coughing, and coughing but never seems to get better? With asthma, a cough always lasts longer than for "normal" kids. But what if it doesn't seem to fit the pattern for asthma. Could it be something else? What about pertussis (aka Whooping Cough)? 

So, people still get Whooping Cough? Yep. Since many people don't vaccinate their children, the disease has started to spread. Some kids are too little to get all the doses of  Pertussis, and if they are around someone who has Pertussis, well......they're going to get really sick :(

I always thought that if you had Pertussis, you had to have that "whooping" sound when you cough. 

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Red, watery eyes
  • A mild fever
  • Dry cough
 Then, after a couple of weeks, the coughing can cause:

  • Vomiting
  • Result in a red or blue face
  • Cause extreme fatigue
  • End with a high-pitched "whoop" sound during the next breath of air
"However, many people don't develop the characteristic whoop. Sometimes, a persistent hacking cough is the only sign that an adolescent or adult has whooping cough." 

Wow! Who knew?

If you have child with asthma, and something "doesn't seem right" or they have any of the symptoms listed above. Check  with your doctor. It might just be a really bad asthma flare up, or it could be Whooping Cough. Let's hope it's not that.....but that's what we pay the doctor to figure out.