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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Spacer time



 It's spacer time! (Not to be confused with Hammer time.....yes I remember the MC Hammer song from the 90's..... ) And no, I did NOT own a pair of parachute pants!

Spacers are one of those things that are SO important to use with an inhaler, but many people don't know about them. In fact, when I help families learn about asthma, the #1 thing that helps them is to learn about spacers. I have had so many people tell me that they seem to feel better just by adding a spacer to their inhaler.
What is a spacer?

As you can see from the picture above, it's a tube like device that attaches to your inhaler. Some are also called "holding chambers" because they "hold" the medicine with a one way valve until you inhale it. 

So, why use one? Well, I know this is hard to read, but this slide is from a training I attended. It was from a respiratory therapist showing how fast the spray comes out of an inhaler. He showed that it came out at 156-221 miles per hour. Woah!!!



That would make it almost impossible to suck the medicine down into your lungs fast enough. Asthma Doc told me that if I just use an inhaler, most of the medicine will just hit the back of my throat, instead of being sucked down into the lungs. Mayo Clinic explains it this way:

"Releasing the medication into the spacer gives you time to inhale more slowly, decreasing the amount of medicine that's left on the back of your throat and increasing the amount that reaches your lungs."
If you are having an asthma attack, you really need that medicine - all of it. I don't want it on the back of my throat, I want it in my lungs!

So, as you can see, we use spacers. There are several different kinds (some have whistles that will let you know if you are sucking the medicine out too fast.)

Some of mine are REALLY old (the middle spacer in the photo.) The Vortex spacer on the right lets me pull the end off and store my inhaler inside so it doesn't take up as much space in my purse.

I have noticed that most primary care doctors and pediatricians don't prescribe spacers. But asthma specialists do.

If you don't have one, ask your doctor for a prescription. Insurance should pay for it. But, in our case, our insurance is wacky and says we can only have "one per lifetime". Are they kidding? It's made of plastic!

But, we can have Asthma Doc write a prescription, and then we can get one at the pharmacy, but just pay for it ourselves. (My last spacer was about $20.)

If you don't have a spacer, get one and try it and see if you can tell a difference.

Leave comments here if it seems to work better for you!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Those perfume wearing people.....ARGH!!!!!


Since I have SO much free time (wait......I am laughing so hard I need to catch my breath........) 

As I was saying, with all my free time, I decided to take the Certified Asthma Educator Exam. Studying for it is like being back in college! I thought I would do a little "light reading" on a recent flight. I have my trusty pen to underline important parts of the book. I was hoping I could have a little peace and quiet and be able to read on the flight.

I just happened to be reading a section that said, 

"Why in people with asthma do the bronchial tubes react to asthmatic triggers in the way that they do, when the very same stimuli have no effect on the airways of someone without asthma?"
"That's for sure!" I said to my husband. He looked over at me wondering what I was talking about, and I showed him that paragraph in the book. 
 
I had noticed earlier that the woman sitting in the row in front of me had a REALLY stinky sweet perfume. First, it was annoying. Seriously.......do you people have to bathe in perfume? A little goes a long way you know. 

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know where this is going. And you know that  perfume is one of my asthma triggers. I was hoping I wouldn't have an asthma attack on the plane.

Sure enough, "The Twitch" started in my throat. I tried to adjust my air vent, but there didn't seem to be much air coming out of it. Then I started breathing with my sweater over my nose. 

The woman in front of me was traveling with a small child, and had been leaning over his seat to help him with his tablet. She looked back at me through the crack in the seats, and realizing that I must look really weird with my sweater up to my nose, I said, "I think your perfume is bothering me." She sniffed her shirt and said, "I can't smell anything."

Well, sure enough....The Twitch got worse, and then the cough started. So, I took two puffs of my  inhaler. 


 
Now that's ironic! I had just read the section about asthma triggers, and how normal things (like perfume) don't affect people without asthma. And just to prove my point, I had to have an asthma attack.

So, what do you do when you are stuck on a flight with someone with really stinky perfume? I was traveling with Hubby and daughter, Kitty. I looked around, but the flight was full. How do you get away from someone on a plane?! I kept breathing through my sweater. As soon as we reached our traveling altitude and the captain turned off the seat belt light, I moved 3 seats away from the woman, to the aisle, where I could get more fresh air. 

It seemed to help. That and using my inhaler. 

We had a great vacation and the beach was amazing, but on the flight back....who should board the plane and sit in front of me AGAIN?? Yeah.....the Stinky Perfume Lady. 

Seriously. I am not making this up. 

Kitty said, "Uh oh mom......look who's back!" You could smell Stinky Perfume Lady coming up the aisle. So, this time I moved to the aisle BEFORE the plane left the tarmac and used my inhaler as soon as I saw the woman.

For those of you who think there is no way your perfume could make someone have an asthma attack, you can read info from The Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America. 

This is from their page:

"What Causes or Triggers Asthma?"


Irritants in the Air

Irritants in the environment can also bring on an asthma episode. Although people are not allergic to these items, they can bother inflamed, sensitive airways:
Notice perfume listed under "strong fumes, vapors or odors?"

Yep, it's real people. Perfume causes asthma attacks. 

So, before you spray yourself with perfume, please think of those of us who will have an asthma attack because of you. I have rarely ever said to someone, "I just had an asthma attack and had to use my inhaler because of your perfume." Let me tell you....that is one awkward conversation to have to start. 

But people won't know if you don't say anything. So, for those of you reading this, PLEASE do no wear perfume to areas where we are all stuck together (planes, auditoriums, movie theaters, church, etc.)

I thank you and my poor little asthma lungs thank you.   

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

World Asthma Day!

 (http://ginasthma.org/wad/)

Do you have asthma? If so, you are not alone! There are over 334 million people world wide who have asthma! 

I have asthma, as do all three of my children (well.....both of my sons are adults and my daughter is a teenager, so I guess they don't fit the "children" category anymore!)
 
Asthma is different for everyone. In our family, it led to a career change for me. My first Bachelor's Degree was in Interior Design (I still get excited when I walk into a furniture store.....) but I went back to school to get another bachelor's degree so I can help other families learn more about asthma. I wish I would have had someone to help us when my kids were diagnosed 16 years ago. I know that we made a LOT of mistakes!
 
For some people, asthma is not that bad and they may only use their inhaler once a year. For others, they have a tough time!  My kids were hospitalized 12 times and my son almost died twice. I HATE asthma. And pneumonia! And forest fires. 
 
How much do you know about asthma? I didn't know anything when my kids were diagnosed. 
Webmd has a helpful site, called "Understanding Asthma - the Basics." Right above that title is a "pair of headphones." If you click on that, it will read the page for you! There is also a  helpful slide show on the page (just click on the blue start arrow.)

There are a LOT of asthma books for kids on Amazon. Or you can also download a copy of "Understanding Asthma" from the Allergy & Asthma Network. They are a GREAT resource!
 
 There are also videos on Youtube. Everyone learns differently. The important thing is just for you to learn about asthma and how it affects you. Learn what triggers or causes asthma attacks. Learn when to see a doctor and when to change your medicine. 

Think your asthma is okay? Take the Asthma Control Test and find out!  I just read an study that showed that many people THINK their asthma is under control, when it's actually not.

Life is good! Let's breathe well and enjoy life!
Allergy & Asthma Network is the leading nonprofit patient education and advocacy organization for people with asthma, allergies and related conditions. Our patient-centered network unites individuals, families, healthcare professionals, industry and government decision makers to improve health and quality of life for Americans with asthma and allergies. We specialize in making accurate medical information relevant and understandable to all while promoting evidence-based standards of care. - See more at: http://www.allergyasthmanetwork.org/about/#sthash.GGdaLlUF.dpuf
 
Allergy & Asthma Network is the leading nonprofit patient education and advocacy organization for people with asthma, allergies and related conditions. Our patient-centered network unites individuals, families, healthcare professionals, industry and government decision makers to improve health and quality of life for Americans with asthma and allergies. We specialize in making accurate medical information relevant and understandable to all while promoting evidence-based standards of care. - See more at: http://www.allergyasthmanetwork.org/about/#sthash.GGdaLlUF.dpuf
 
Allergy & Asthma Network is the leading nonprofit patient education and advocacy organization for people with asthma, allergies and related conditions. Our patient-centered network unites individuals, families, healthcare professionals, industry and government decision makers to improve health and quality of life for Americans with asthma and allergies. We specialize in making accurate medical information relevant and understandable to all while promoting evidence-based standards of care. - See more at: http://www.allergyasthmanetwork.org/about/#sthash.GGdaLlUF.dpuf