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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Myths about allergies

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livescience has an article titled "9 Myths About Seasonal Allergies"

In the article, they interview Dr. John Costa, who is the medical director of the Brigham and Women's Hospital Allergy and Clinical Immunology Practice in Boston. (whew! that's a mouthful!)

Have you heard people say any of these things?

  • Everybody has allergies
  • If you didn't have allergies as a child, you won't develop them as an adult
  • Eating local honey can help with allergies
  • Scientists can predict a bad allergy season
  • Moving to a new area can help allergies
  • Flowers are a trigger for allergies
  • Don't use nasal sprays-they are all bad
  • Only take allergy medicine when you feel bad
  • Allergy shots don't work
To see what Dr. Costa says about each item, click on the link at the beginning of the blog, it's a REALLY interesting article!

Happy reading!! :) 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Vacationing with asthma

Ahhh, the beach....what a GREAT vacation!!

It seemed like most of the work was getting ready for the trip. If you have allergies and asthma, it's REALLY important to plan ahead. 

We made sure we had:
  • Maintenance medication
  • Allergy medicine
  • Epi Pens
  • Out of state coverage insurance cards
  • Location of closest Instacare/Hospital to our location
  • Nebulizer and tubing kits
  • Nebulizer medicine
You just never know when an asthma attack may happen. Sometimes when you are traveling, you may experience new plants/animals/etc that can trigger allergy or asthma problems.
I remember asking Asthma Doc if there was anyplace safe to live for people with asthma. He told us that no matter where you live, you may run into something that can cause problems for allergies and asthma.  Awww....I was hoping he would say we should move to Hawaii!!
Our best bet is to just be careful of what's around us. We make sure we take our allergy medicine every day (our allergies are so severe, that we take allergy medicine year round. ) Some people are lucky and only need allergy medicine in the spring or fall.
We also make sure everyone is taking their asthma maintenance medication. If your doctor has prescribed it for you, it's important that you take it EVERY day, not just when you get sick. If you wait until you are sick to start on it, it may be too late. We had that problem once, because Son #2 wasn't taking his controller medication and had swelling in his lungs (we didn't realize it at the time), then he caught a cold on top of that-which turned into pneumonia and resulted in a 3 day stay in the hospital. We never made that mistake again!
From then on, we learned to make sure he takes his maintenance (or controller) medication EVERY day!! It helps keep the swelling down in his lungs.
If you have a vacation planned this summer, make sure you pack all your allergy and asthma medicine....just in case. And have a fun time relaxing!  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May is Asthma Awareness Month

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It's Asthma Awareness Month!!

You may be thinking, "yeah, I know all about asthma." Well, I know I don't know EVERYTHING there is to know about asthma-even though I have had allergies and asthma all my life. 

I also passed on my genetic defect to all three of my teenagers - poor kids!! When my kids were younger, it seemed like we were ALWAYS in the doctor's office.....well, we were. We knew our pediatrician, as well as most of the other pediatricians in the county from seeing them during the after-hours clinics. And after 12 hospitalizations for our kids, we also knew most of the nurses and respiratory therapist in the pediatric wing of the hospital. I'm thinking that's NOT a good's kind of like being on a first name basis with your mechanic. Hmmm.

Most of the situations were beyond our control. Our kids were hospitalized multiple times for pneumonia and also from breathing smoke from forest fires. We did everything the doctor said to do to try to control their asthma symptoms. From making changes in our home to making sure all the kids were taking their daily maintenance medication. But sometimes, your lungs can't take any more inflammation or damage, so you have to go to the hospital.  

Start by making your home allergy and asthma friendly
 In addition to what Asthma Doc asked us to do to our house, we found some information from the Utah Asthma Program.  They have an article titled "How to Avoid Triggers and Reduce Exposures." I also found info on Mayo Clinic's website.

Figure out what triggers are causing your asthma attacks

We also figured out what triggers (or causes) were making us have asthma attacks.  CDC has a list of common asthma triggers . I have learned that triggers can change over time. A new trigger for me is scented candles and perfume. I already knew that smoke, cold temperatures and dust can trigger asthma attacks for me. My teenagers have different triggers. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what caused an asthma attack. You can carry a small notebook and record what you were doing before you had an asthma attack to see if you can figure out what caused it. (Did you pet the neighbor's cat or dog? Attend a soccer game on a grass field? Talk to a friend while they smoked? Clean out your dusty garage?)
Work with your doctor to create a plan that's right for you.  

My teenagers and I all have different allergy and asthma medication. It seems like there's no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to asthma. There are National Guidelines that doctors follow in determining which medicine is right for you. You may have to try a few medications until you find one that works for you. If you have allergic asthma, your doctor may want you to have allergy shots to desensitize your body.
Asthma and allergies can be controlled and you should be able to have a great life. It may take a little work to figure out the right combination of allergy and asthma medicines and what changes you need to make to your home so it's allergy and asthma friendly. 
But you can do it! Let's enjoy this life we have all be given!! 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Who's doing your allergy testing? Are they qualified?


I just read an article in Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics website entitled "Deception and Fraud in Allergy Care"

I wondered 'WHAT are they talking about?' The article highlights the problem of  primary care doctor's offices who offer allergy testing and treatment. They hire a third party a "technician" who conducts the allergy testing and provides treatment. The problem is (according to the article) that the technicians may not be trained board certified allergists. There are guidelines that must be followed for testing and treatment.

Another problem listed in the article is that doctors may prescribe SLIT (sublingual immunotherapy) - where drops are placed under the tongue.The problem is that SLIT is NOT approved by the FDA. So, they may be billing your insurance company for something that is not approved. The article says that is fraud. 

Some people also may be sent home with allergy shots or drops. That is VERY dangerous because you can have an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)

"Anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe allergic reaction. It's a medical emergency.

Most people with allergies never have anaphylaxis. But when it happens, it works like this:

Within minutes or hours of being exposed to your allergy trigger, your body starts a chain reaction that temporarily widens your blood vessels, which can lower your blood pressure. You may pass out. You may get hives and swelling, especially around your face and throat. You may have trouble breathing, talking, or swallowing."

 One of my sons had anaphylaxis after having allergy shots. I NEVER want to see that again as long as I live. It was so scary, he easily could have died. If we had been at home, he may have. Asthma Doc's nurse saved my son's life. She treated him and stayed with him to make sure he was stable and wasn't going to have a second reaction later. 

Do your research before you allow someone to treat your allergies (or your child's) with shots or drops. You want to make sure they know what they are doing....just in case you or your child experiences anaphylaxis. It's rare, but it can happen. And if it happens to you, you want someone trained and certified who can save your life! It's been 10 years, and I can still vividly remember the anaphylaxis. 

Thank you Asthma Doc and Shot Nurse for saving my son's life !!!!!!!

sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) in which drops of the allergen are placed under the tongue. - See more at:
sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) in which drops of the allergen are placed under the tongue. - See more at:


Friday, May 2, 2014

Another awkward conversation....


I was at an event where a woman was selling scented candles in a candle warmer, similar to this one that I found on Amazon. 

I saw her when she was setting up her display. I was setting up a display (about asthma) at the same event.....which meant that I would be stuck in the same room with her (and her scented candles)  - for 2 days!

I approached her and told her that I have asthma, and that her scented candles would trigger an asthma attack for me. She quickly said, "I'll just burn a light scent." She didn't get it! I can't stand ANY scented candles, (or perfumes!) I had to ask the coordinator of the event to talk to the woman and ask her not to burn her candles.


It seems like I am the Kill Joy at events like that. Sigh. I'm sure that woman would have sold more candles if people could smell them burning. And it probably would have made the room smell A LOT better. But no - I have to have asthma. Which means that my body is oversensitive and it will overreact to normal things that other people can be around. Then I will have an asthma attack.

The technical terms for this are hypersensitivity and hyperresponsiveness. 

Basically- its the "drama queen effect." For those of you who have teenagers, you will understand that term! With asthma, your body over reacts to different things. My lungs can instantly constrict  which makes me have a sudden coughing spell (asthma attack.) Even after using my inhaler, it takes several hours to feel better. And even the next day, my chest will still hurt.

It's SO frustrating. Just once, I would like to be the "normal" person in the room who doesn't have to worry about scented candles and people wearing perfume. Not to mention how I have to avoid my other triggers of cold temperatures, cats, and pollen.

Stupid body. Arrgh.