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Friday, June 27, 2014

Asthma Action Plans for school - already???!!!!










I just received an email from School Nurse. It's that time of year again - already!! Time to fill out the new Asthma Action Plan for daughter Kitty for the upcoming school year. I take it to Asthma Doc to fill it out, then I sign it, then I return it to the school nurse.

Yes, the school nurses work during the summer....

There are MANY Asthma Action Plans out there, most school nurses have a form that they like to use. This one above is from the Utah Asthma Program.

Did you know that students can carry their asthma inhaler with them - AT ALL TIMES? And in every state in the country?! Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) has an area on their website that talks about Medications at School. Their website says:

"In 2010, we celebrated that all 50 states protect students' rights to carry and self-administer asthma medications."

Do we have these laws in every state?
In 2010 we celebrated that all 50 states protect students’ rights to carry and self-administer asthma medications. But our work’s not done – one state – New York — still needs to pass a law permitting students to carry and use their anaphylaxis medications. - See more at: http://www.aanma.org/advocacy/meds-at-school/#States
Do we have these laws in every state?
In 2010 we celebrated that all 50 states protect students’ rights to carry and self-administer asthma medications. But our work’s not done – one state – New York — still needs to pass a law permitting students to carry and use their anaphylaxis medications. - See more at: http://www.aanma.org/advocacy/meds-at-school/#States
 But, you MUST fill out the proper forms each school year from your school nurse to make it legal.

Yes, all schools are "drug free zones." BUT student who have an asthma attack need immediate access to their inhaler. On AANMA's website, they also say that:

 "Every school year students have died because they were unable to get their asthma or anaphylaxis medications on time."
Every school year students have died because they were unable to get to their asthma or anaphylaxis medications on time. - See more at: http://www.aanma.org/advocacy/meds-at-school/#States

When my kids were younger, I had to give the inhaler to the teacher or school nurse to lock up. Now, they can carry it with them, as long as Asthma Doc and I fill out and sign the form at the beginning of each school year.

Page 1 on the form above tells the teacher/school nurse/recess guard what to do if Kitty has an asthma attack at school. It lists the maintenance medications she takes every day, what triggers (or causes) her asthma attacks, and what rescue medication she needs. 

Page 2 is where I sign, giving her permission to carry her inhaler and for the school personnel to help her if she needs it.

Talk to your school nurse about your student being able to carry their inhaler (and Epi Pen) with them at all times. But remember, you MUST fill out the proper forms (every school year). AANMA also has a small poster called "School Ready" that you can print out and take to your school. 



I know the panic that can set in if I have an asthma attack and my inhaler isn't close by for me to use. Our kids don't need to have that happen at school, let's protect them!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Buster diagnosed with asthma



Here's a screen shot from http://pbskids.org/arthur/health/asthma/

I love the PBS show Arthur!! My kids grew up watching it. I love that Arthur, D.W., Buster, Francine, Muffy, The Brain, Binky and all of the other characters would go through many of the things my kids had to go through. 

We watched episodes about chicken pox, being the last kid in your class to loose a tooth, and one of our favorite episodes - where Buster is diagnosed with asthma.

PBS has an Arthur Family Health website with information about asthma, peanut allergy, nutrition, resilience and fitness. The asthma section has a lot of great information, including the original PBS episode where Buster is diagnosed with asthma. It's called "Buster's Breathless".   

My kids loved the video, because they could relate. In the episode, Francine worries that asthma is contagious. Arthur is over-protective and has to wipe off Buster's books (Buster had an asthma attack while he and Arthur were looking at old, dusty books.) Tough guy Binky thinks he should "fake it" and say that he has "plasma" (that's what calls asthma) so he can get out of class.

Buster sees how everyone is treating him differently, so he stops going to the nurse's office during lunch to take his inhaler. So what happens? He has an asthma attack because he's not taking his medicine! (This is a great lesson for your kids about how important it is to take their medicine EVERY day!)

There's even a funny homage to Magic School Bus when Buster has his classmates imagine that they are very small, and he breathes them up his nose. They learn about asthma once they're inside his lungs. 

What a great educational video for kids to learn about asthma! When my kids were little, they didn't want to feel "different" and let their friends see them using their inhaler. And if they were having problems with their asthma, I might not let them go to a friend's house, go camping, etc. So they would hide their asthma symptoms. This video really helps kids see how important it is to manage asthma and let someone know if they're not feeling right.

Watch the episode with your kids, and be sure to check out the other helps on the website. They have sections about asthma basics, games and activities and videos.

And pass the popcorn!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Allergies causing asthma attacks



I have a funny daily calendar from The Argyle Sweater. This was one of last week's cartoon. I think it was written for our family!! 

The picture is a little hard to see, but it shows two balloon horses. One has sneezed and popped the top of his head.  One horse says to the other, "Gesundheit ......Geez, Larry, I'd say your allergies are becoming a problem."

I laughed out loud when I saw that cartoon. Allergies are a daily problem in our family. Hubby and I and all three teenagers suffer from allergies. When my allergies get REALLY bad, they can trigger an asthma attack. The same thing happens to Daughter Kitty. Her allergies are pretty severe - she takes allergy medicine EVERY DAY OF HER LIFE, and she is on year 6 of allergy shots.
Most people just do allergy shots for 3-5 years.....but not our family!! 

Last month, Kitty started a strange little cough that lasted for a week or two. I took her to Asthma Doc, who changed her allergy and asthma medicine. Another two weeks passed, and she was STILL coughing-only it was getting worse. She was coughing so hard, she almost threw up. And she also pulled a muscle in her side while she was coughing - poor thing. She hasn't had an asthma attack for a LONG time, so she didn't realize what was happening. Let me tell you - I put the nebulizer together REALLY fast that day! 

Sometimes it's easier for us to use the nebulizer when we have an asthma attack, rather than using our inhalers. It just depends on how hard we are coughing. Sometimes it's hard to breathe in deep enough to use an inhaler. It's easier for me to just sit and breathe in the mist from the machine.
  
So.....we went back to Asthma Doc and he changed Kitty's allergy and asthma medicine again. I hope it helps this time. She also has to have a short burst of prednisone to take the swelling down in her lungs. Prednisone is one of those "necessary evils." For us, it can sometimes prevent our kids from ending up in the emergency room or being admitted to the hospital.

But, it has some nasty side effects. Read up on them so you know what to expect. Sometimes it can change your loveable child into a crazy little demon. 

Have I ever told you how much I hate allergies and asthma? Curse my genetics!!!



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What's going on with boys vs girls and asthma??!!

(Shutterstock image)

Sheesh! Just when you think you have everything figured out when it comes to asthma.....

I've had allergies and asthma all my life - and I passed my defect on to my kids. All of my teenagers have bad allergies (they have all had to have immunotherapy for 5 years)

Son #1 has exercise-induced asthma. Son #2 has severe asthma and has been hospitalized 8 times (and almost died twice...) Daughter Kitty has asthma and has been hospitalized 4 times (usually due to pneumonia.)

I have spent most of my time worrying about Son #2. Now it seems like Son #2 and Kitty are changing places. I wondered, "what is going on??!!" He is getting better, but her asthma is steadily getting worse? Then I remembered about asthma rates. CDC (The Centers for Disease Control) tracks the percentage of people who have asthma and separate it out by sex, race, age, etc. Their Asthma Facts report has a couple of interesting graphs on page 4.



 The top chart shows asthma rates for ADULTS. It shows that females have higher rates of asthma  at 10.7%, but males have lower rates at 6.5%.

BUT, if you look at the lower chart for CHILDREN, it shows that males have higher rates of asthma at 10% and females have lower rates at 7.1%.

So, in a nutshell, it means that males and females switch places on the charts. When they are young, more boys have asthma. Around puberty, girls/women have higher rates of asthma. 

Why the switch??!! Now I have to worry about Kitty's asthma getting worse??!!
  
Since I'm a nerd and love to read the science of WHY things are the way they are, I found a study by the U.S. Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health  

Their study shows that hormones affect asthma. And all you women and girls out there know HOW FUN hormones can be (as do our boyfriends/husbands.....) If hormones weren't bad enough to deal with, now they make asthma worse? Sorry ladies! 

I was trying to explain to Hubby why Kitty's asthma is getting worse, and Son #2's asthma is getting better. I hope all of this makes sense to him and for the rest of you. 

Just remember that more boys have asthma when they are little. But around puberty, girls start to have more problems with asthma....and that last until the later in life (when women are in their 50's or 60's.) Thanks hormones! So if you have sons and daughters with asthma, keep an eye on their symptoms. If your daughter seem to be getting worse, talk to your doctor. We have been to Asthma Doc twice in the last month. I'm hoping we finally have Kitty's medicine adjusted now.

Sigh. It's just My Life as an Asthma Mom......  


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Can honey help allergies?


(Shutterstock image)

A colleague and I were just talking about allergies, hers are really bad right now. Poor woman, I know how she feels! :(

It's hard to find an allergy medicine that works and doesn't make you tired. Zyrtec, Allergra and Claritin are supposed to be less drowsy medicines.

We were also talking about how some people eat honey to help their allergies. I thought it was one of those myths about allergies, so I looked it up. I found an article on Allergy BeGone titled "Does Eating Local Honey Ease Allergy Symptoms?"

It sounds like it would work similar to allergy shots. With allergy shots (immunotherapy) your bottle of serum has tiny amounts of what you are allergic to (trees, flowers, bushes, animals, etc). By getting weekly allergy shots, your body slowly builds up an immunity to them. (In theory that's how it's supposed to work.....it doesn't seem to be working for Daughter Kitty-she's on YEAR 6 of allergy shots. You read that right....)

With honey, the idea is that as bees land on flowers and plants, then small amounts of pollen stick to their legs, which they then carry back to the hive. The pollen gets mixed in with the honey, then you eat the honey, and that should help your body build up immunity to the pollen and allergens.

BUT, a study from 2002 by the University of Connecticut Health Center tested out the honey idea and found that it didn't work. They split the people in the study into three groups. 
  • One group was given locally grown honey
  • One group was given non-local commercially grown honey
  • One group was given fake honey (honey flavored corn syrup)
At the end of the study, the researchers found that there was no change in allergies among the three groups - they all stayed the same. 
 
The study was published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The then president-elect of American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology  (Dr. Stanley Fineman) said that, "Seasonal allergies are usually triggered by windborne pollens, not by pollens spread by insects." He also said that "honey collected from plants that do not cause allergy symptoms would [likely not] provide any therapeutic benefit."
So, it sounds like eating honey should help allergies, but scientific studies show that it doesn't. 
How sad! I guess I'm just stuck with taking allergy medicine.... but honey is so much tastier than medicine! Too bad it doesn't help allergies :(  


Monday, June 9, 2014

Asthma camps





Well, school is out!!! 

Is anyone sending their kid(s) to asthma camp? Some of you may be wondering, "what is asthma camp?!" The Consortium of Children's Asthma Camps are special camps located nationwide that helps kids with asthma learn how to manage their asthma, while being active and experiencing the  normal camp activities - hiking, canoeing, fishing, ropes courses, swimming, etc.

What makes asthma camp different is that each camp has a doctor, nurses and respiratory therapists on hand 24 hours a day! These staffers are trained to know how to handle allergies and asthma. What a relief! You can relax, knowing that if your child has a flare up during camp, medically trained personnel will be on hand to treat them.

 Here's a video from a camp in Minnesota, Camp Superkids. Be sure to watch the very end of this video, it shows 4 different health plans that PAY for the kids to attend asthma camp! Each American Lung Association chapter also has "camperships" aka scholarships for families that can't afford to go.


Would you like to find an asthma camp in your state? Click here to find a map of the U.S., then click on your state, and it will find a camp for you!

Have fun, and pass the s'mores! 

 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Nebulizers with pacifier attachments!

(http://www.medquip.com/search.asp?keyword=pediatric+pacifier+attachment&search.x=0&search.y=0)

I found this in a catalog while I was at a conference. It's a pediatric nebulizer that comes with a pacifier adapter. Who knew they made those?! Now when my kids were little...... (that makes me sound REALLY old!!) all we had were oxygen masks that were shaped like a dinosaur or a fish.

This is what the company says about their pediatric nebulizers:

 "A Pediatric Pacifier attachment is available to ensure that the youngest of children receive proper successful treatments."

Here's what they look like, I found the photo on shopping.com


What a genius idea! Of course, you have to have a baby or toddler that will take a pacifier. 

If this would work for you, ask your doctor about the pacifier adapter, and see if insurance will pay for it. I remember how hard it was to get our toddlers to put an oxygen mask on, I wish they had the pacifier adapter when our kids were little! 

 We would have to give Teddy Bear a "breathing treatment" first. We would put Teddy's "medicine" (water) in the nebulizer cup so he could have a treatment. Then it would be our kid's turn! We would put a vial of the kid's Albuterol in the nebulizer for them. 

Sometimes you have to get REALLY creative when you have kids.

Thanks to whoever came up with this idea, you are a genius! :)

 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Are your allergies out of control?


(Shutterstock Image)

I hate allergies. Hubby and I and all three teenagers have allergies. We have them year round-not just in the spring when things are blooming. *Sigh*

 We buy tissues in bulk. I really like the kind that has lotion in the tissues, because that way I don't look like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer when I'm blowing or wiping my nose ALL DAY LONG! 

We can usually cope okay, but how do you know if you may need help dealing with allergies?

Webmd has a slideshow called "10 Signs Your Allergies Are Out of Control."

There are a lot of ways allergies can make you miserable besides a runny nose and sneezing. It can affect all areas of your life. 

  • Allergies can keep you up at night because you may have a stuffy nose or are coughing or wheezing (think of what it's like to try to sleep when you have a cold-only this goes on for weeks and weeks with allergies!)
  • It might be hard to concentrate because antihistamines can make you tired or your nose is running, eyes are tearing up or you are sneezing
  • You might be be really tired from not sleeping night after night 
The Webmd article has other things to watch for too. It's surprising all the ways allergies can affect us. If all the things mentioned above aren't bad enough, allergies also cause asthma attacks for me to. 

Our local news list the pollen count during the weather forecaster each day. It's helpful, because if I am having a really hard day with allergies, I can see what's in the "extreme" category. (Grass, Elm trees, etc) Then I know to stay out of doors for a few days. Or at least cut down on the time I'm outside. 

If you are wondering if you should just try dealing with your allergies or if it's time to visit an allergy doctor and see if there's something else they can, watch the Webmd slideshow.