Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Here we go again....

(Shutterstock image)

This is my best friend right now. We have LOTS of boxes of tissues and travel sized tissue packs around the house, in the car, in the teenager's back packs and in my purse.

Spring is here! And with it comes hay fever. Some people may say "what's the big deal?" The problem is that having allergies is like having a cold-FOR MONTHS AT A TIME!

A cold is here and gone in a week. With allergies, it can be MONTHS later and we are STILL sneezing, having runny noses, itchy throats and rubbing our eyes until they are red.

Day after day, after day, after day.

There are things that can help. There are a lot of options when dealing with allergies, the Mayo Clinic has a whole list on their website. You can use nasal sprays, pills, liquids, eye drops, inhalers, skin cream and allergy shots.

Our family has tried them all. Hubby and I and all three teenagers have allergies. Year round. And we have all used different things to treat our allergies. Your doctor can actually do a skin test on your back to see what you are allergic to. That will help him decide how to treat you. Sometimes you can take over the counter medications. Other times, you need more than that.

If you are to the point where you are miserable with your allergies, talk to your doctor. You can try new medications and treatment options. Even with all the medications, there are a few simple things we do to help with allergies.

  • Take your shoes off when you enter your house (shoes drag in all sorts of mold, pesticides, etc)
  •  Shower before bed at night-that removes the pollen from your hair and skin
  • Sleep with the windows closed (you don't want pollen drifting in on you all night)
  •  Wash your bedding EVERY week
  • Use allergy proof pillows, pillow cases and mattress pads (most retail stores carry them)
  • Use air conditioning instead of swamp coolers (swamp coolers let pollen in and raise the humidity level in the house)
  • Vacuum twice a week (yes, even under the beds)
  • Change the furnace and air conditioning filters every 3 months

  Try a few ideas and see what works best for you. And talk to your asthma and allergy doctor, they can work wonders and make life a little less miserable!

Monday, March 25, 2013

It's Spring! No wait-it snowed. Now it's sunny. Huh?!

(Shutterstock image)

I had Spring Fever last week. I wore sundresses (with a cardigan sweater of course.) And I was sporting sandals. Never mind that my toes were numb by the time I got to work. I was excited for Spring!

Then it snowed. In fact, we were on the highway and there was just enough snow to make it slippery. We passed 4 accidents in an hour. I couldn't wear sandals because of the snow, and I had to switch back to my winter coat, hat and gloves.

For some parts of the country, this is typical weather. It warms up, then rains or snows. Then warms up, then rains or snows. Annoying, yes. But it can also cause problems with asthma. For some people, changes in the weather can cause problems. They can have problems with temperatures changing (warm to cold or cold to warm) or with humidity levels changing (dry to misty weather or misty to dry weather.)

It's good to know about different triggers (or causes) of asthma attacks. Sometimes you might have a problem with your asthma and aren't sure why. Just knowing what can cause problems is important. That way you can avoid certain situations that might cause an asthma attack. To learn more about possible triggers, there is a list on American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) website. 

You might be surprised about some of the things on the list that can trigger asthma attacks.

I had an asthma attack once in a movie theater when a group of college girls sat next to me and one of them was wearing a strong perfume. I instantly had an asthma attack. It's never happened before or since then. But knowing perfume causes asthma attacks helped me quickly realize what was going on so I could pull out my inhaler and use it.

Check out their list of possible asthma triggers and share it with others you know who have asthma. Knowledge is power. Be prepared and always carry your inhaler with you....just in case.

I'm looking out the window at the weather. I'm back to wearing sandals today and my feet are freezing. And I'm wearing a coat. But I'm hoping for spring. Until then I'll keep my inhaler handy in case I have problems with the weather changes.

Oh, to be on a sunny warm beach right now.....  

Friday, March 22, 2013

School banning Axe body spray after student has life threatening reaction






(Shutterstock image)

There was a student at a school in Eastern Pennsylvania who was rushed to the hospital with a life-threatening allergic reaction to Axe Body spray. The CBS news article  said that the student had his throat close up three different times in nine days after smelling the spray.

The school nurse had to inject the student with an Epi Pen the last time before he was transported to the hospital to be treated. That student was lucky that the school nurse was there. Our school nurse covers between 5-8 schools. The chances that she would be there if my son had anaphylaxis is zero. My son is allergic to tree nuts. Not to be confused with peanuts. A peanut is actually from the legume family. My son is allergic to nuts that come from trees (walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc.)

I wonder if the student was carrying an Epi Pen or if the school had a "stock" Epi Pen on hand for emergencies. Our county health department works with our three local school districts to make sure every school has a "stock" Epi Pen. Just in case. Some students can have their first anaphylaxis reaction at school. They may not know they are allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, soy, milk, wheat, etc.

Many people don't realize that strong fragrances can cause an allergic reaction or asthma attack. I have actually had an asthma attack from someone who sat down next to me in a movie theater and was wearing strong perfume. I've only had it happen once. But it's scary. And I just had an asthma attack, not anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can kill you in a matter of minutes.

That student is now being home schooled. Smart move by his parents. The school had asked all students to stop wearing Axe body spray or any other fragrance. But I wouldn't count on teenagers listening to that warning. I'm sure there are students who still want to smell good. I think if they had seen the student having an anaphylactic reaction, it would change their mind. I have seen it once with my oldest son (after his weekly allergy shots) and I never want to see it again. EVER.

Please be mindful of those around you who have asthma. Know that any strong fragrance, even scented candles, can affect our breathing. Remember that allergies and asthma make our stupid bodies over-reacting to normal every day things.

Please help keep us alive. Thank you.
 










Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What are "non respiratory asthma symptoms?"

(Shutterstock image)

The Utah Asthma Program just posted an article on their Facebook page. The article is called "Non Respiratory Signs of Worsening Asthma" by the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. 

It sounds like a mouthful, but the idea of the article is simple. They asked parents in the research study to watch for OTHER signs of asthma getting worse in their child. Most of us focus on wheezing and coughing-the usual "cold like" symptoms. But they asked parents to watch for changes in the way their child is acting or looks.

They found that in the days before an uncontrolled asthma flare up, there were some things that parents noticed about their children. The "non respiratory symptoms" are:
  • tension
  • anxiety
  • sleeping problems
  • tiredness
  • paleness
The one upper respiratory symptom that seemed to increase dramatically was an itchy throat. (That's one things I always have before an asthma attack is a "twitchy" throat.)

The study showed that the non respiratory symptoms were actually more common than the typical cold-like symptoms of an asthma flare up.

So, should parents and doctors pay more attention to the non respiratory symptoms? They would need more research to answer that question. But, as a parent, I think these other symptoms would be helpful to look out for. Especially when you have younger kids that can't tell you what's wrong.

So, the next time your child with asthma starts to show some of the symptoms listed above, pay attention to their asthma too. You might just get an early warning that they are getting worse.

Monday, March 18, 2013

My medicine is how much????

(Shutterstock image)

I know I have talked about this before, but did you know that there are companies that will help pay for your medicine? I was talking to a neighbor about it last night.

If you go to the website for Needymeds.org, you can find help. When I did a Google search, here's what it said about Needymeds: 

"NeedyMeds is the best source of information on patient assistance programs. All our information is free and updated regularly."
Needymeds doesn't sell medicine, it helps you find a company that will help you pay for your medicine. The website is free and easy to use. Just go to the website and you will see a green stripe across the front page of the website. You can choose from:
  • Brand Name Drugs
  • Generic Name Drugs
  • Coupons Rebates & More
  • Free Clinics
  • Clinical Trials
My neighbor takes name brand drugs, so we clicked on "Brand Name Drugs." That takes you to a page with the alphabetical letters in blue print. Click on the letter of the alphabet that starts with your drug. For example, you can click on "A" for Advair. Some of the medicines will also have a little green box to the side of the medication that says "coupon". You can click on that for a coupon. For Advair, it will take you to a page that where you can print off a $10 off coupon each month.

If you click on Advair HFA (inhaler) if will take you to the page that lists 3 companies that will help pay for your medicine. They include the company name, phone number, website and qualifications.

You just have to see if you meet their qualifications. Sometimes they will have you send your taxes to verify your income.

We use a company from Needymeds to pay our co-pay on Son #2's Xolair injections. It's over $1000 a month for the serum, and our co-pay is $150 a month. The company we found pays for his copay.

In addition to the $150 a month for Xolaire, we also have to pay for Dulera, Symbicort, Asthmanex, Singulair (for 3 teeangers), and Zyrtec. All those prescriptions add up!

Check and see if you qualify for help. We didn't think we would, but we did. Companies want to give out the money (face it-it makes companies look good to say they helped people that couldn't afford their medication!) So by all means, take their money!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Planning a vacation with asthma







We've been on several vacations with our three teenagers (all of whom have asthma) and you can never be too prepared.

Our nebulizer has been to Disneyland and the Grand Canyon, among other places! We pack everything, peak flow meters, nebulizer, Epi pens and all of our maintenance medication.

The problem with traveling is that you never know what trigger you may come across. Or, there may be something new that bothers you. I had an asthma attack in Disneyland, and to this day have no idea what caused it. There can be a lot of triggers for asthma-plants, animals, changes in weather, smoking, mold, etc. You need to be prepare to treat allergies and asthma and make sure you have all your medication and equipment with you.

I always check to see where the closest hospital or insta-care is located (you never know if you might need it!) I also a special out-of-state insurance card. It's helpful to check with your insurance company to see what they cover for out of state emergency care. 

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has a lot of good tips on their website. They have a whole section called "Traveling with asthma"

Spring Break is coming, as is summer. Time to plan a fun trip! Just follow the tips in the Traveling with Asthma web page and make sure you are prepared. You should be able to have a fun filled life, even with asthma.

Happy traveling!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Counters on inhaler-it's about time!!!






I just noticed this on my inhaler the other day, I knew they were putting counters on rescue inhalers, but didn't realize they were using them on maintenance inhalers. I've only been using this for 2 months!

This is my Dulera inhaler, it's my every-day maintenance (or controller) medication. Some people get a little confused by the different types of inhalers. This is one that I take EVERY DAY, whether I feel symptoms or not. You can't "feel" swelling in your lungs, but that's what can happen if you don't control your asthma.

Then if you get a simple cold on top of the swelling that is already in your lungs, it can lead to trouble. My kids and I all have allergies and asthma, which means that if we're not careful, our lungs can swell because they are constantly being annoyed by the allergens we are breathing in. It also means that we are a lot more likely to get pneumonia or bronchitis if we have a cold. And pneumonia has caused Son #2 and daughter, Kitty to be hospitalized 12 times. A simple cold isn't so simple when you have asthma.

Everyone with asthma is different, some people don't have asthma bad enough to need a medication every day. We do, but check with your doctor and see what's right for you.

And if he does want you to take a controller/maintenance medicine, make sure you follow the directions and take it EVERY DAY.

The counter will help you remember when it's time to refill. You don't just take it for a month, and then stop when the medication is empty. You get it refilled and take it every month until your doctor tells you to stop.

So, happy breathing. Check your inhaler and see if you need to refill it by using the handy dandy counter on the back. 




Monday, March 11, 2013

There's an app for that!






(photo from the WebMD website http://www.webmd.com/allergy-app)

WebMD has a free new app out for iphones, it will help if you have allergies. And spring is just around the corner, so this app is just in time!

In fact, we saw the allergy medicine TV commercial again where the actor has wads of tissues stuck in his pockets and the announcer says, "Do you store tissues like a squirrel stores nuts?!" Oh yeah, that's my family! Hubby and I and all three kids have year round allergies. And the kids and I all have asthma.


Here is a link to the video from WebMd's website.  It says the free iphone app will help with:


  • Personalized allergy and forecast alerts
  • Customized for you and your family
  • Notifications when your allergy triggers are high
  • Doctor approved tips and articles
  • Specific to you and your family's allergens
This would be really helpful for my daughter, Kitty. She started out yesterday morning sneezing, and she didn't stop until she got in the shower last night. In fact, she was sneezing so much, she got a bloody nose. Aren't allergies fun?! She takes allergy medication every day-year round-and has been having allergy shots for almost 5 years. But the sneezing continues nonstop.

This app would help you plan your day, it notifies you when the pollen count is high for your specific allergies. For me, that would help me know when to be a little more careful outside. If grass was high, I know that I would have to come home and shower to get all the pollen out of my hair and off my skin.

Try it and let me know if any of you like the app. I just got an iphone and am still trying to figure out how to use it. Maybe one of my kids can show me how to download the app....

Friday, March 8, 2013

Are parents over-reacting to peanut allergies?

(Photo courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/)

I was reading an article called "Flipping the Lid On Food Allergies" in Allergy & Asthma Today magazine. It was written by Dr. Sakina Bajowala. She is a board-certified in general pediatrics and adult and pediatric allergy and immunology. She has two boys with allergies.

She says when she wrote the article, she worried it may be controversial, but she thinks many parents may over-react to peanut allergies. Some parents think that being in the same room, airplane or birthday party where they are serving peanuts could cause their child to die.

She says that peanut protein found in peanut butter is undetectable in the air. She talks about a study at Mount Sinai School of Medicine where they had kids that were highly allergic to peanut butter sniff a half cup of peanut butter for 10 minutes. None of the kids had a reaction.

They also pressed a pea sized amount of peanut butter to the backs of those children. About 1/3 of kids had itching, redness or a hive on that spot. But no other reactions (no anaphylaxis)

They found that MOST kids that have a peanut allergy will not have anaphylaxis just from smelling or touching peanut better. Of course there may be someone who is VERY sensitive and may have a reaction. But most kids won't.

She wonders if parents are over-reacting in trying to protect their kids from peanuts. 

I get how scary it can be, Son #1 had anaphylaxis once after having his weekly allergy shot. I've seen it first hand. I NEVER want to go through that again. But the difference is that he was actually having something he was allergic to injected into his body. He survived by fast work of Amazing Shot Nurse. 

Dr. Bajowala is saying that just being around peanut butter won't cause anaphylaxis. Of course if it gets by kid's eyes and nose, that can cause a reaction that looks like anaphylaxis. Click on the article at the beginning of this post. Reading it may make you stop and think.

Do schools, airplanes, etc need to be peanut-free zones? Read the article and decided for yourself. 


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Man having an asthma attack saved by police officer





(Shutterstock image)

Call it fate, call it what you want. A police officer near Atlanta, George happened to be in the right place at the right time to save the life of someone who was having an asthma attack.

Linda Tyler was rushing her 42 year old son, Keith Haynes, to the hospital when he "siezed up, went limp and stopped breathing" according to a video on The Today Show

Linda was near a BP gas station, and saw a police officer inside. She ran inside and begged the officer to help her son. It was raining, so the police officer and another son carried Keith Haynes inside to perform CPR. You can actually watch the video that was recorded by the gas station's security system. It shows the police officer doing CPR on Haynes.

They worked on him until paramedics came and were able to get him breathing again. Dying from asthma is rare, but every day in the U.S 9 people will die from asthma. My second son almost stopped breathing twice as we were rushing him to the hospital. It's a horrible thing to see.

Here are more stats from Asthma and Allergy Foundation


Fast Facts
Every day in America:
  • 44,000 people have an asthma attack.
  • 36,000 kids miss school due to asthma.
  • 27,000 adults miss work due to asthma.
  • 4,700 people visit the emergency room due to asthma.
  • 1,200 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma.
  • 9 people die from asthma.

 Talk to your doctor about preventing an asthma attack. Know what causes (or triggers) asthma attacks for you and know how to avoid your triggers. Make sure you are taking your maintenance (daily) medication. Ask your doctor when you should use your inhaler. Don't wait until it's too late. Here is info from Webmd of when to call 911:

  • Severe wheezing when breathing both in and out
  • Coughing that won't stop
  • Very rapid breathing
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Tightened neck and chest muscles, called retractions
  • Difficulty talking
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic
  • Pale, sweaty face
  • Blue lips or fingernails
  • Or worsening symptoms despite use of your medications
Call 911 if you have any of these symptoms.
 Remember that an ambulance can get you to a hospital quicker and they have oxygen and other things on board to save your life. DON'T try to rush someone to the hospital in your car. The Emergency Room doctor yelled at me the last time I did that told me to call and ambulance next time. Minutes can mean the difference between life and death. Luckily for Keith Haynes, and police officer was there to save his life.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Taking care of the caretaker

(Shutterstock image)


Some days, this is me. Of course, I'm not a guy, but he expresses my emotions! It can be hard taking care of kids who have a chronic illness. And asthma is one of those-some days are better than others.

When I hear one of my kids coughing, and I think "here we go again." And it's not just winter time. My son has been in the hospitalized in July!

If you are a parent of a child with a chronic condition (asthma, diabetes, seizure disorder, etc), you need to take care of yourself. You won't be any good to your kids if you are stressed out and worn out.

I usually get sick when my kids are in the hospital. Since I also have asthma, usually when they get bronchitis or pneumonia, I get sick too. I remember during one of the 12 hospitalizations for my kids, I was so weak, I could hardly drive back and forth to the hospital.

I have learned to take small breaks for myself (not easy when you work full time) but I sneak things in here and there. It's Monday morning, and I started the week with a  massage. It was for "medical purposes" though *wink *wink* since I hurt my neck and shoulder painting my house. The massage was a nice break and it felt wonderful!

Make sure you take time for yourself. If you don't have a few reserves stored up, you won't be able to have the patience and strength to take care of sick kids with asthma. And you have to be sharp to remember what time they got their steroids, what time they had their last treatment, are they getting worse, do we need to head to the ER now, etc etc.

Do whatever works for you-yoga, meditation, massages, watching funny movies. Take care of yourself, take a deep breath and remember, "I can do this!"

Friday, March 1, 2013

She made it!!

(From my Close to Home calendar)

 Today was the day I was worried about, the day daughter Kitty had to be re-tested for her allergies. For those of you who have not had the allergy testing done, you can read the previous post (I explain everything there.)

Having to be go through that all over again is no fun. When we got there today, Asthma Doc asked if she was ready. I told him it had been a LONG and itchy week and she was ready to get back to taking her antihistamines! He had given her a prescription for prednisone to help with the reactions. But she was still miserable.

So, as Shot Nurse was about to start the testing, daughter Kitty was a little nervous. "Last time, you said it wouldn't hurt-and it DID!" She complained. Well, Shot Nurse said it wouldn't hurt. She draws four rows and numbers them on your child's back (I think there were 43 in all today.) That part tickled. But then she pull out the allergy serum plastic vial with a pointy end and scratches your child's back with a different serum on each number. At least that's how it looked to me, I was trying to stay out of the way. Then your child has to wait on their stomach for 20 minutes to see how big the welts get. Shot Nurse comes back to "read" the results by seeing how big the welt is on each number. The number for cats was by far the biggest welt.

The good news is that 4 year's worth of shots seem to be working. Kitty is no longer allergic to grass, trees, flowers and bushes. But she is still allergic to cats. And she LOVES our neighbor's cats. Asthma Doc said she needs to wash her hands after she pets them. Kitty does that and then changes her shirt if they rub against her. It makes her sad that she can't have a cat to love. I told her sorry, it's my fault-well and Hubby's fault. We both have allergies and we passed them on to our kids. It's crazy how your genetics can impact your kids.

Oh well, to quote our family motto, "Things can always be worse!" There are a lot of other things that we could have passed on to our kids, but so far we have just passed on allergies and asthma to all three of our kids.Well, and being short. And having naturally curly hair. And most important, our sense of humor to deal with it all!!