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Friday, March 27, 2015

Allergies making you miserable

(Shutterstock image)



In my last post, I talked about allergies vs colds. I also wanted to talk about how having allergies affects the body.

If you don't have allergies - lucky you! For the those of us with allergies, life can be VERY miserable. I tell people that allergies are like a cold - THAT NEVER ENDS! At least with a cold, you know it's only going to last for about a week. (Unless you have asthma, and then you can develop pneumonia....but I'll save that for another post.)

I get a runny nose - but unlike a cold - the runny nose can last all spring and into summer. We go through A LOT of tissues at our house. My favorite are Puffs with Lotion (that way we don't end up with a red nose!) I almost panicked when I was at the grocery store and they only had 3 boxes left. So I bought all of them. They're MINE - ALL MINE! (Insert crazy laugh....)

To quote an allergy medicine commercial, "I store tissues like a squirrel stores nuts."  Sad, but true.....

At our house, we can easily sneeze over 30 times a day. Sometimes, daughter Kitty will start to sneeze and we will count.......17, 18, 19 times in a row.

Other "fun" things that happen with allergies from WebMD are:

  • Watery and itchy eyes
  • Sinus infections
  • Irritated throat (from breathing through your mouth)
  • Snoring (yeah - try to get a good night's sleep while that is going on....)
  • Headaches
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
It's hard to do well in school and work when all of that is happening. So...what to do?

WebMD lists several things you can do around the house. One thing they don't list is to shower before you go to bed. Asthma Doc tells us to make sure we shower before bed because you can have pollen in your hair and on your skin. If you go to sleep at night with pollen on your body, and roll around on your pillow, all of that pollen gets spread around. And you can wake up feeling even worse (and looking worse with a red nose and swollen eyes.)

WebMD also lists different ways you can treat allergies There are a LOT of options - from antihistamines, eye drops, nose sprays, to prescription leukotriene inhibitors (Singulair) and  mast cell inhibitors (nose sprays like Nasalcrom.) And let's not forget allergy shots (immunotherapy).

With all of those options, it's hard to know what is the best treatment plan. That's why we go to an allergy and asthma specialists. I like my primary care doctor, but for this, I need a specialist.
 
Talk to your doc and see what's right for you. Pardon me while I grab some tissues... 






Monday, March 23, 2015

Preparing for allergy season


Yep, it's started already......sneezing and wheezing.

Spring has already sprung here. In fact, the trees are in the "high" category for pollen right now. In some places in the U.S., they still have LOTS of snow. 

In the West, Winter forgot about us. We are wearing sundresses, shorts and t-shirts. 

And we are sneezing and wheezing. I was talking to a neighbor who started sneezing and then she said "allergies." I nodded, "Mmmmhmmm, we're all sneezing at our house." She asked if we took anything for allergies. "Um, yeah. Singulair, Zyrtec, Allegra and 5 years worth of allergy shots!"

Mayo Clinic has some great information about Hay fever.    Do any of these symptoms that they list seem familiar? 

  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Watery or itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Sinus pressure and facial pain
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes (allergic shiners)
  • Decreased sense of smell or taste
They also have a chart to help you figure out if it's hay fever (allergies) or a cold. They also suggest when it's time to go see a doctor for allergies. 

For us, allergies last year round. You know allergies are bad when you add tissues to the weekly shopping list.....EVERY week! We also buy allergy medicine and allergy nose spray IN BULK at the warehouse store. 

In fact, I should buy stock in those companies...I am making them rich and paying for the CEO's beach house in Hawaii! Sigh.


If you are struggling with allergies, I hope the Mayo Clinic site can help you decide what to do. Don't suffer through it - there are medicine to treat your symptoms and things you can do to make your house allergy friendly.

It's an early spring - and it's going to be a long one. I am all stocked up on tissues and allergy medicine! Bring it on!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Free allergy and asthma activity book!






There is an allergy and asthma activity book available from Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA.)

It's called "Ally and Andy's Awesome Asthma and Allergy Activities". Here's how AAFA describes the activity book:

"The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) created this coloring/activity book to provide children and their families with a basic understanding of asthma and food allergies. The activity booklet, appropriate for children of all ages, provides a fun way for children to learn how to recognize common triggers and to control their asthma and food allergy symptoms. In addition to the word finds, crossword puzzle, word scramble, maze and other activities, there is a story to read and color, plus a list of additional website resources for parents and kids on asthma and allergies."

I scanned through the book. It's about a brother and sister who have allergies and asthma, and the other kids at school tease them (that would NEVER happen, right?!) While on a school field trip, they meet a couple of woodland friends who also have allergies and asthma, and their woodland friends tease them too. They realize they aren't alone in having allergies and asthma.

It's a short story which also has a crossword puzzle, word search and other activities at the end of the story. 

If you are looking for a fun story for your kids with allergies and asthma, you can print it out here. 

Happy coloring!

Friday, March 13, 2015

It's detective time!



Sometimes, you can have an asthma attack, but may not be sure what trigger it. 

This happened to me twice this week. As soon as I climbed in bed, I started that twitchy feeling I get in my throat. Followed a couple of minutes later by coughing. Argh! I had to get up and use my inhaler.

But I couldn't figure out what was triggering it. I had just cleaned off the night stands and the top of the dresser, so everything should have been dust free. 

All the bedding had been freshly washed. 

So, what was it? Daughter Kitty is in charge of vacuuming the upstairs and the boys vacuum downstairs. Did she miss vacuuming under my bed this week?

There was a decorative metal magazine holder on my wall that I had filled with silk flowers. Was that dusty? Did it trigger an asthma attack?

The trees are blooming now and the pollen levels are in the "high category." Did I have pollen in my hair? Then when I laid down, did it get on my pillow, and then on my face?

I may never figure it out. 

Asthma triggers are different for everyone - and they can change over time. You have to act like a detective and try to figure out what caused an asthma attack. Sometimes I can't figure it out. Once I went into a store to buy a baby gift, and I had an asthma attack while I was picking out a baby outfit. I still don't know what caused it.

Once you know what your triggers are, you can avoid them. Until then, you may have to do a little detective work to see what is triggering your asthma attacks.

Where is Sherlock Holmes when I need him?!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Status asthmaticus (severe asthma attack)






Status asthmaticus is another name for a severe asthma attack. 

On TV shows or in movies, they may show someone having an asthma attack. The actress or actor  just take a puff of their inhaler and presto! They are just fine - just like that!

For those of us that live with asthma, you may know that it isn't that easy. 

It takes time for an inhaler to work and to help you breathe.

In some cases, it doesn't seem to work AT ALL.

All three of my kids have asthma (yes, they can blame me for that....)

When Son #2 was younger, he had severe asthma. He didn't respond like most patients when it came time to treat his asthma. When he would get sick, I would panic! We would use a nebulizer and give him a breathing treatment, but it didn't seem to help. So we would call Asthma Doc. Asthma Doc would listen to his lungs and start him on prednisone (a steroid liquid/pill.) Asthma Doc would also give him a steroid shot (decadron.) It's a stronger dose of steroid that can work quickly. 

I would watch him VERY closely, even staying up all night to monitor his symptoms, and Son #2 would get still get worse. So we would head to the emergency room. 

.WebMd has a list of severe asthma symptoms:


What Are The Symptoms of a Severe Asthma Attack?

The symptoms of a severe asthma attack may include:
  • Persistent shortness of breath
  • The inability to speak in full sentences 
  • Breathlessness even while lying down
  • Chest that feels closed
  • Bluish tint to your lips
  • Agitation, confusion, or an inability to concentrate
  • Hunched shoulders and strained abdominal and neck muscles
  • A need to sit or stand up to breathe more easily
These are signs of an impending respiratory system failure and require immediate medical attention.

You may not have more wheezing and coughing with a severe asthma attack. In fact, the presence of wheezing or coughing is not a reliable standard for judging the severity of an asthma attack. Very severe asthma attacks may affect airways so much that the lack of air in and out of your lungs does not cause a wheezing sound or coughing.

This happened to our son many times. It's even scarier when you know they are NOT moving any air through their lungs!


The next page of the WebMd website states:

If you have an asthma attack that does not respond to your usual bronchodilator inhaler, this is considered to be a medical emergency. These severe attacks require immediate emergency care.

With severe asthma, they can go from bad to worse VERY QUICKLY. Make sure you understand when your doctor wants you to go to the emergency room or call an ambulance.

Severe asthma attacks may be rare, but they can and do happen. 

Make sure you know what to do.






Monday, March 2, 2015

Clean your room!!


(Shutterstock image)

This photo reminds me of Son #2. Our son is in college, but still lives at home. (We cut him some slack - he has a scholarship and works part time, but still can't scrape up rent money.)
But living at home means you still have to obey the house rules - I don't care how old you are! And one of the rules is to keep your room clean. Son #2 is going to college full time and has some REALLY tough classes. He's usually up until the wee hours of the morning doing homework or writing a research paper. 

So, the last thing he wants to do is clean his room. However, like all of my kids, he has allergies and asthma. And he's really allergic to dust. I could tell it was time to clean out his room because there was so much dust that he was waking us up in the middle of the night sneezing. Yes, he is on a different floor of the house. But when that guy sneezes - he really sneezes - loud! And it wakes me up. I can tell you that I'm not a happy person when I get woken up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep.
He was gone on Saturday.......so I shoveled out his room! Muhahaha! I couldn't take it anymore. Hubby helped because dust is one of my asthma triggers. 
I can't believe how much stuff that guy has - you would think he has saved everything he has ever been given in his life! It's piled up in the living room for now. With strict instructions - to only put back what he REALLY wants to keep and what's important to him.

We are donating outdated clothing and shoes. And sorting through books, model airplanes, etc. 

And that room is CLEAN! It's vacuumed and dusted - and he better not mess it up!

That's one of the problems with allergies and asthma. You can take allergy medicine - but if you are living in a dirty, dusty room - it won't help. Because that allergy and asthma trigger is still there. Once the dust is gone and cleaned up, his allergies improved. He hasn't been sneezing at all.
Now, I'm back to sleeping through the night. And I am much more pleasant to be around! :)