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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Kid's asthma rates decreasing

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I just saw a story scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen while I watched Good Morning America on December 28th. It said that asthma rates are going down, after years of going up.

I can't find the story on Good Morning America, but found a LOT of other stories from many TV stations. The article was first published by AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner in a medical journal Pediatrics   But I can't find it there either. Sigh.

This is the best article I found on KSL TV (I like the awesome chart!) 

The article says that asthma rates were going up for years and years and now are going down. Researchers (I love smart people!) are trying to figure out why the rates would increase for so many years and then finally start to decrease.

The article from the AP website says that:

"Childhood asthma rates doubled from 1980 to 1995, partly because of more awareness and diagnosis."
Have you ever gone to the doctor with a sick kid and had them tell you, "It's just a virus."? My doctor told me that - about a week before Son #2 was hospitalized for asthma. I took my son to The Pediatrician with an article I had saved about asthma from Parents Magazine. I remember telling the doctor that I thought my son had asthma - he had a lot of the signs and symptoms of asthma. The Pediatrician said, "No. He doesn't have asthma. It's just a virus." Well, "just a virus" caused my son to have a severe cough, pale skin and dark circles under his eyes.  He seemed to get worse and worse over the next few days.

So, I marched right back to The Pediatrician and said, "something is wrong - my son just doesn't look right. " Well, something WAS wrong. The Pediatrician took one look at Son #2 and started a breathing treatment on the nebulizer and called the hospital (attached to our doctor's office) to ask them to get a bed ready for my son. He then told me to take Son #2 to the hospital and that they were admitting him to the pediatrics unit. 

Once in the Pediatrics Unit, a respiratory therapist said, "You know your son has asthma, right?" My mouth dropped open and I said, "I had him at The Pediatrician's office last week and he said my son doesn't have asthma!!"  Respiratory Therapist said, "Oh, he has asthma alright. That's why he's in the hospital." 

That was my introduction to the world of asthma - 16 years ago. Since then, all 3 of my children were diagnosed with asthma and they had 12 hospitalizations (almost all due to pneumonia.). I also figured out that is why I used to get REALLY sick every time I had a cold when I was growing up. I didn't know that I had asthma too!  That experience changed our lives forever.

But, I'm getting sidetracked! I was talking about how doctors are better at diagnosing asthma now (hopefully!), and that's why asthma rates have gone up over the last 20 years.

So, why are asthma rates going down now? Researchers aren't sure, but there are many things that make asthma worse (including obesity and bad air pollution.) Obesity rates are decreasing for kids, as are pollution levels in some areas.

I think people are more aware of asthma now and know how to treat it. Props to the CDC Asthma Program  

The CDC helps with asthma awareness at the national level, and then that helps people at the state asthma programs, which then helps people at the county and city levels. And then they can help your family!

Many states have asthma programs (Minnesota,Montana,New York, Utah, etc.)

Allergy & Asthma Network is a GREAT resource for families that have asthma. They also have a quarterly magazine, Allergy & Asthma Today that is VERY helpful. 

You can also contact American Lung Association 

Well, that ought to keep you busy for a while! Just remember that knowledge is power.

If you have asthma, use the resources above to figure out what makes your asthma worse (triggers) and learn how to avoid them. The more you know, the more if will help you take care of your asthma.

 
 




Monday, December 21, 2015

Just in case....


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Christmas is almost here and like many families, we will be traveling for the holidays. I have learned to be prepared......just in case.

I have learned to find:

  • Where did I put my Out of State insurance card?
  • Where is the nearest after hours clinic?
  • Where is the nearest emergency room?
 
I have learned to pack EVERYTHING.....just in case. I pack:
 
 
If you are staying home for the holidays, it also helps to know:
  • Phone number of the pediatrician
  • How their after-hours works (we have a network of doctors who each take a night being the after-hours doctor. We call our regular pediatrician, and they have a phone recording to let us know which doctor is available after hours and where his office is located. We then call there to make an appointment.)
  • 24 hour pharmacy (in our city there is one pharmacy that is ALWAYS open 24 hours a day. Find out which one is open in your city - it will save you stress down the road!)
Christmas is a wonderful day - but it doesn't mean medical problems stop that day. 
 
One year, we had to drive through our city of 100,000 trying to find a drugstore that was open on Christmas Day. (Son #2 had his tonsils out before Christmas and we ran out of liquid Advil and HAD to find a drugstore that was open so we could buy more.)
 
Kitty ended up in the hospital during New Year's Eve one year(stupid pneumonia!)
 
Illness doesn't take a holiday. Be prepared.....just in case. 
 
And Merry Christmas!! 


Monday, December 14, 2015

Hypoallergenic dogs as real as unicorns

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It's that time of year when many of us will be traveling to visit family during the holidays. 

The family stay with has a dog. Another family member INSISTS that there are certain dogs that are hypo allergenic 

She says there is NO WAY we can be allergic to her dog. Well, sorry, but we are. See those watery eyes and hear the sneezing? We aren't making this up you know!

There are is no such thing as a  hypoallergenic dogs!  Don't believe me? Here's a quote from an article in the Huffington Post 

"Contrary to the many marketing claims made to appeal to people with allergies to pets, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog," Franklin D. McMillan, a veterinarian and director of well-being studies at Best Friends Animal Society, told The Huffington Post in an email.

All dogs have saliva and skin, which Dr. McMillan says:

"The most common cause of pet allergies is the dead, dried flakes (dander) from your pet's skin and the protein in the pet’s saliva that sticks to these flakes," McMillan said. "The pet’s hair itself isn’t a significant problem -- it’s the dander that is attached to the shed hairs. The fur and dander then stick to carpeting, furniture, and clothing."

That explains it. We are having problems with the sticky proteins on the dog's hair. 

Some dogs may shed less than other dogs.  

But everyone has different allergies and asthma triggers too. So, what may not bother one person CAN and DOES bother another.

If you are having problems, the article suggests several ideas, such as: 
  • Give the dog a bath once a week
  • Wash it's bedding once a week
  • Have hard wood floors instead of carpet (the dog hair won't stick to wood floors like it does carpet)
  • Vacuum often (especially if there are places where the dog likes to lay down)
  • Shampoo your carpets often
  • Keep the pet our of your bedroom
  • And don't let the dog lick you!
The American Kennel Club recommends some dogs that have "predictable non shedding coats" - so, in theory - they aren't supposed to shed as much.
 
However, my daughter has had severe allergic reactions to a specific dog on their list.
 
So, just remember that everyone is different. If you are allergic to a dog.......well, then you are allergic - to it no matter what anyone else says! Work with your doc to find the best treatment. Once again, that's different for everyone. He may tell you to take over the counter allergy medicine. Or you may be WAY past that and need allergy shots.

Yeah, dogs are cute. But for us, it's not worth the miserable runny eyes, sneezing, running nose and asthma attacks.
 
Here's part of one last quote from the Huffington Post article (the last part of the quote has a link to the American Kennel Club and list of "predictable and no shedding coats" - but that link is above.) It was too funny, so I had to share!
 
"So while hypoallergenic dog breeds are as real as hypoallergenic unicorns -- or, if they exist somewhere, researchers haven't found them yet......"

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Fun cartoon about asthma



I saw a great story on NBC news about comic books and a cartoon for kids with asthma. 

I'll try to include some information, but I am on SLOW speed today because I have a concussion. My brain and body aren't working the way they should. It takes a looooooong time for me to type on my computer, and I have to keep correcting my spelling. 
 
 I had to spend a week in bed, with dark rooms and low sounds. Limited TV and radio. Sigh. Not fun for a Type A personality!

But - back to the fun cartoon and video!

I wish this was around when my kids were little. This cartoon and coloring book series was created by a doctor, Dr. Alex Thomas, who also has asthma! He created these characters when he was only 11! He used to draw the cartoons for the newsletter for his mom's allergy patients. He is now also a pediatric allergy doctor.
 
The cartoon is easy to understand and has some cute characters. Iggy the Inhaler is dressed like a super hero. The Cowboy Sheriff is Bronco (as in bronchodilator - he "rescues" the muscles. Get it? A rescue inhaler that is a bronchodilator - or relaxes the muscles that are squeezing the airway from the outside.)
 
 
 
Sheriff Broncho releases the bands, but there is still swelling in the bronchial tube. So Coltron the Controller comes to help. 


The cartoon explains how Coltron the Controller has medicine that works for a long time. But Sheriff Broncho works fast as a rescue inhaler. 

Come to think of it, this cartoon would be good for adults too that have a hard time understanding the difference between controller (or maintenance) and rescue inhalers.

There are a lot of fun things on Iggy and the Inhalers website. Including trading cards, coloring books, videos, etc. 

Well, that's enough for today. I need to take a break and rest my brain. But I hope this helps any of your kids that need more help understanding asthma.