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Friday, February 28, 2014

What's new with nebulizers?

A lot of people HATE Facebook, but you can find out some interesting things on there! One of my friends was talking about her kids being sick, and how they needed a breathing treatment with the nebulizer. One of her friends said they have a new pacifier hook up on the nebulizer now. 

I just did a quick search online now, and didn't find anything about an osygen mask that would work with a pacifier. Has anyone seen anything like that? My kids are older now (teenagers to be exact), so they can just use a plain old boring mask. But there are lot of things for kids now!
I found LOTS of cute nebulizers (our is boring like the one pictured above) Here's what I found on Just Nebulizers website

I found some masks on Shop Nebulizer's website 

There are a LOT of websites out there for buying nebulizers and masks. Our insurance paid for our nebulizer, so the home health care company brought a boring regular style. I would have liked a cute animal shaped nebulizer when my kids were little. Home health care did bring us animal masks.

To make it a little less scary, we would have our kids give a breathing treatment to their stuffed animal first (teddy, kitty, puppy, etc). We would put a little bit of water into the canister from the tubing kit, just enough to make a mist for a few minutes for their stuffed animal's breathing treatment. When it was empty, we would put Albuterol, Atrovent or Xopenex in the vial and then the kids would get "their turn".

Our home health care agency delivered the nebulizer and showed us how to use it and how to clean it. They were sooooo helpful! When you get a nebulizer for the first time, it can be a little scary. If you use it a lot, you will get really good at assembling it, giving a treatment, and taking the canister section apart and cleaning it. 
I even got to the point where I could assemble it in the dark in the middle of the night and then take it into one of the kid's rooms and do the breathing treatment while they slept. Then I would check their oxygen level with a oximeter before staggering back to bed. You can buy inexpensive oximeters at Walgreens or other stores. 

They are literally lifesavers! Ask your doctor if you should use one. The hospital told us they would admit the kids to the hospital once their oxygen level was around 89. When I would put the oximeter on their finger, and if it their level would drop to around 91, I would head to the Emergency Room. I know that oxygen levels drop while you sleep. So I knew that it would soon drop down to 89.

This is what worked for our family, but ask your doctor how he wants you to use an oximeter. I love modern medicine, because they are always coming up with something new.
And since we know our kids better than anyone else, we know when something "just doesn't look right" and they need to go to the Emergency Room. The oximeter would help me make that decision. I have insurance, so I knew that an Emergency Room visit would be covered. I would rather turn my kid's care over the the professionals. If they told me my kids were okay, we would head back home. 12 times out of 13, they were hospitalized. So, if you think something is wrong, call your doc or head to the Emergency Room. I wrote a post on "When to go to the ER" It might help!  
Happy nebulizer shopping! :) 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Allergy shots while you are pregnant?

Did you know that you can still have allergy shots when you are pregnant? I know moms to be worry about A LOT when they are expecting. You aren't sure what is safe and what isn't.

I was just reading an article in Allergy & Asthma Today,  and they had a short article entitled "Pregnant Mom's Allergy Shots May Help Child." I am WAY past the age of having any more kids, but I always like to learn more about asthma so I can help other moms :)

The short article shares information from Jay Lieberman, MD, from the American Academy College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2013 Annual Conference. His research shows that "Women who are undergoing immunotherapy - allergy shots- don't have to stop when becoming pregnant." He also says that "....continuing the shots during pregnancy might help prevent allergies in their child."

He says it's like when you pass on antibodies to your baby after they are born (that helps protect them until they can fight off illnesses on their own.) So the same thing happens with allergy shots, it can help protect your baby against allergies too.

For anyone who has had allergy shots (immunotherapy) it's not an easy road. Read about our family's experience with allergy shots. 

Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant and having allergy shots. Dr. Lieberman's research shows it's safe, but I would always talk to my own allergy and asthma doc to make sure he agrees. 

After all, even though doctor's businesses make money by getting patients to visit them, they like to make sure their patients are healthy and happy! :)

I hope this helps any of you moms who may be pregnant and wondering what to do about allergy shots.  

Friday, February 21, 2014

What do you think about over the counter asthma inhaler?

Does anyone remember when Primatene made a rescue inhaler that you could buy without a prescription? I remember the controversy when it was pulled off the market.

It looks like the company that makes it, Armstrong Pharmaceuticals, is asking for approval from the FDA to put it back on the market. It's the same medication, but has a different propellant now.

Is that good or bad? An inhaler that you can buy without a prescription?

The CEO and President of AANMA,Tonya Winders, is opposed to the Primatene inhaler. Why?

  • Primatene contains epinephrine, which is not recommended for treating asthma. Rescue inhalers usually contain Albuterol. 
  • Primatene doesn't have a dose counter. Ms.Winders says that "studies show that patients who carry an inhaler with a dose counter are less likely to require an emergency room visit than those without one."
  • The Primatene inhaler has 200 doses, which "could encourage patients to wait too long to seek necessary medical attention or a follow up appointment" It sounds like it would give people a false sense of security. So they wouldn't bother about seeing a doctor if they feel they have an inhaler with 200 doses, enough for a year!
I don't think that people know that you should NOT use your rescue inhaler more than twice a week. If you do, it means that your asthma is not controlled, and you need to use/adjust your daily, maintenance medication. Maintenance medication controls the swelling in the lungs that happens when you have asthma.

Dr. Kyle Hogarth (an assistant director of medicine and medical directory of the pulmonary rehabilitation program at the University of Chicago Medical Center) was quoted in a 2012 article in the Los Angeles Times. He says that "The danger in treating only symptoms, he said, is that repeated asthma attacks can permanently damage the lungs. Poorly controlled asthma can progress to a point where, "in their 40s and 50s, [patients] have the lungs of someone who is 80 or 90 who has smoked."
Let me know what you think about Primatene Mist inhalers. I would rather go to Asthma Doc, who we've been going to for the last 14 years. He knows us, and how each of my teenagers and I all need different medications and treatment plans for our asthma.  
I wouldn't buy asthma medication that is sold over the counter. If you don't know what you are doing and try to treat your asthma by yourself, it can be a deadly decision. 9 people die in the US every day from asthma.  

No thanks, I would rather stay alive long enough to annoy my kids (and spend their inheritance!) Ha!
  • I I 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Project Linus

(Photo from:

What is Project Linus? Their website can say it better than I can:

Provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.”

All three of my teenagers have allergies and asthma (they inherited it from me.....) The youngest 2 were in the hospital frequently when they were younger (12 times) and that meant some pretty scary nights. When they would be admitted to the Pediatrics Unit at our local hospital, the Child Life Specialist would give the kids a blanket that had been donated by Project Linus. 

As a parent, I can't begin to explain the effect a simple blanket would have on my son or daughter when they were in the hospital. Often times, one of my kids would suddenly take a turn for the worse, and we would make a mad dash for the Emergency Room. 9 times out of 10, they would end up being  hospitalized. There was no time to pack a bag or grab their favorite blanket.
Once the kids were admitted and assigned to a room, the nurse and the Child Life Specialist would come in. The Child Life Specialist would blow bubbles to distract the kids while the nurse would put the IV in their arm and make sure the oxygen was adjusted. The Child Life Specialist would see what we needed and would usually return with a blanket and toy for our child.  
 They are Project Linus chapters all over the nation. In our area, they would attach a beautiful poem with each blanket. It was so moving, it would make me cry. I thought of the hours someone spent picking out fabric, cutting it out, making the blanket, and then delivering it to the nearest chapter. All so my son or daughter could have a blanket to comfort them in the hospital. 

After my kids were discharged from the hospital, we decided to make blankets to give back to the other kids that were in the hospital. We did that MANY times over the years. I guess it was our way of paying it forward. 

If you are interested in making blankets, contact your local chapter  It can really make a difference in the lives of those that are in the hospital. It brings a LOT of comfort and joy.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Epipens in schools

 I was talking to friends last night who both work in public schools. I was asking them what they think about having a "stock Epi pen" in every school? I know that many states are now working with legislators to make it mandatory to have stock Epi Pen in every school. This would allow school staff to inject ANY student having an allergic reaction with the Epi Pen.

Why is this important?

Did you know that some students can have an allergic reaction for the first time at school? 

We were shocked when Son #2 had an allergic reaction for the first time. He ate something that had tree nuts in it, and his throat started itching and he was having a hard time breathing. It's scary to watch!! A visit to the doctor and a skin test revealed that he did indeed have an allergy to tree nuts. He now carries an Epi pen with him EVERYWHERE he goes!

So, why do some people have a reaction like that? Here's what Mayo Clinic says:

"When you have a food allergy, your immune system mistakenly identifies a specific food or a substance in food as something harmful. Your immune system triggers cells to release antibodies known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to neutralize the culprit food or food substance (the allergen). The next time you eat even the smallest amount of that food, the IgE antibodies sense it and signal your immune system to release a chemical called histamine, as well as other chemicals, into your bloodstream.

These chemicals cause a range of allergy signs and symptoms. They are responsible for causing allergic responses that include dripping nose, itchy eyes, dry throat, rashes and hives, nausea, diarrhea, labored breathing, and even anaphylactic shock."

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, (ACAAI) 1 in 13 kids will have a food allergy. Ask if your school has stock Epi Pens- let's hope your child never needs one. But I didn't think my child would ever need one either....

Here are anaphylaxis symptoms from ACAAI:

  • skin: hives, itching, rash, swelling of the lips, tongue, face
  • digestive tract: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
  • respiratory: wheezing, congestion, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing due to swelling of the throat
  • cardiovascular: drop in blood pressure, causing dizziness, lightheadedness

  • If it you see any of these, call 911. It is a medical emergency!!!!

    Carry on. And carry an EPI Pen!!!!

    Tuesday, February 11, 2014

    Winter allergies....they're not just a seasonal thing for our family

    Just looking at this poor kid makes my eyes water......because I know exactly how he feels!!

    Some of you are lucky and may only have allergies in the spring or summer, when everything is blooming. Hubby and I and all three teenagers have allergies year round. Sigh.

    What do winter allergies look like? This is from WebMD's website,  "Winter Allergies":

    Allergy symptoms caused by dust, pollen, or mold include:
    • Coughing
    • Dark circles under the eyes
    • Itchy eyes and nose
    • Runny nose
    • Sneezing
    • Watery eyes
     The difference between allergies and a cold can be how long it lasts. For a cold, you usually suffer for a week or so (and go through LOTS of boxes of tissues!) For allergies, the symptoms can last for weeks or even months! Sometimes with a cold or flu, you may also get a fever and/or achy body.
    WebMD recommends a few tips to reduce allergens in your home in winter:
    • Wash bedding in hot water every week. (my teenagers should be reading this.....) It also helps to use allergy covers on the pillow and mattress  
    • If you have any carpet, shower curtains or wall paper that have mold, throw them out!!! WebMD suggest cleaning showers and sinks with detergent and 5% bleach. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has a webpage about mold and recommends NOT using bleach, but using a detergent and water to clean. (Sometimes people think that if a LITTLE bit of bleach works well, a LOT of bleach will work EVEN BETTER!!!!)  You can have too much of a good could even trigger an asthma attack
    • Use a HEPA filter to clean the air 
    • If you live in an area with high humidity, use a de-humidifier to lower the moisture level
    • Keep furry pets out of bedrooms (yes, I know it's hard when they look at you with those big brown eyes that seem to say "Your bed looks REALLY soft....wish I could lay on it)

    I hope this helps. When you have allergies year round, you have to know what bothers you, and how to take care of it. I spend A LOT of time cleaning. But I know that if I don't, I wake up with puffy eyes, sneezing, and a stuffy nose. And that leads to a cranky start to my day.

    And what's the old saying? If mom is happy, the WHOLE family is happy.....

    Thursday, February 6, 2014

    Winter Olympics and asthma

    I am SO excited for the start of the Winter Olympics tomorrow night! I LOVE watching the opening ceremonies. No matter what country you live in, it's fun to watch your country walk in under your flag. I also like to see the different uniforms! (Although I do think Ralph Lauren designed some really crazy uniforms for the U.S. athletes this year. Let's put it this way-we'll be able to spot our athletes in a crowd!!)

    I was looking at the schedule of events for all of the winter sports, and it made me wonder-how do the Olympic compete in winter??!! They're not just exercising in cold weather-they are competing at an intense level with other athletes from around the world. And everyone wants that Gold medal!

    I don't do well out in the cold because cold temperatures are one of my asthma triggers. I wondered.... how many of the Olympic athletes have asthma? Medicine.Net has an article called "Asthma Common Among Olympic Athletes."   It says that 8% of Olympic athletes have asthma, that's about the same rate as the rest of the population. It says that "asthma is the most common chronic condition among Olympic athletes"

    So, if Olympic athletes can compete at a world class level with asthma, we should be able to spend a little time snowboarding, skiing, and snowshoeing in the winter, right??!!

    If cold temperatures are one of your triggers, just take a few precautions. Children's Hospital of Wisconsin recommends wearing a scarf over your nose and mouth to warm the air before you breathe it. They also list warning signs of when to get medical help for asthma:

    Signs of a severe attack that require emergency care include:
    • Wheezing that does not improve after taking the bronchodilator or rescue medication.
    • Difficulty talking or playing.
    • Breathing that gets faster or harder. Children are having difficulty breathing if they are bending over to breathe, flaring their nostrils or raising their shoulders. If a child's lips or fingernails turn blue, go to an emergency room immediately.
    Winter is a beautiful time to be outdoors and enjoy nature. Talk to your doctor about what precautions you may need to take. 

    And don't forget to warm up with a little hot chocolate when you're done. In fact, there's a little place in Paris called Angelina. Their hot chocolate is to die for! It's like drinking a melted chocolate bar. Yum!!!!! Oh, that I was back in Paris right now!! I'm craving Angelina hot chocolate now!!

    Monday, February 3, 2014

    Desensitize kids to peanuts?

    The results are out! If you are allergic to peanuts, it is possible to be desensitized. BUT it has to be done in a doctor's office -and VERY carefully.

    A new report from CNN Health reports that oral immunotherapy (swallowing tiny amounts of peanut flour over time - and gradually increasing the amounts) can actually desensitize allergic people to peanuts! It's not a cure, but it does make it so their bodies are more likely to tolerate the peanuts. That means they won't have to panic and worry about an anaphylaxis reaction if someone accidentally eats food that has peanuts in it. WebMD has a section about anaphylaxis.

    Nuts are sneaky, and can hide in bakery products, cookies, ice cream, etc. Son #2 is allergic to tree nuts, so we have to be VERY careful anytime we are eating out.
    This study ONLY worked on peanuts, I'm hoping the research will extend to tree nuts. 

    To maintain desensitization, researchers recommend that after oral immunotherapy is complete,  patients will have to eat peanuts every day.

    You can read more about the study in the CNN article. I'm amazed the things that researchers can help with. It's not a cure, but it can reduce symptoms.

    Now, what can they do about those of us that are addicted to chocolate.......