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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New medication for kids with uncontrolled asthma

These are a few of our "empties", not THOSE kind of empties! 

No beer bottles here!

These are some of the controller inhalers/discs we have used over the years. Controller medication is what you take EVERY day for your asthma to keep the swelling down in your lungs. It's important that you take it every day - whether you feel sick or not.

There are four in my family with asthma (myself and my 3 kiddos - 2 of whom are now grown.) All of us have different struggles with trying to control our asthma over the years.

So, we have tried almost every asthma medication that is on the market. In fact, when we saw a TV commercial for an asthma medicine, I asked daughter Kitty, "Hey - you had that one once, didn't you?" She didn't even look up from her homework, but said dryly "Yep, if they make it, I've tried it."

I always like to keep my eye open for anything new, so I follow the Allergy & Asthma Network Facebook page. Last week, they posted an article from Medscape that said "FDA Ok's Symbicort for Uncontrolled Asthma in Kids 6 to 12."

Symbicort (the bright red inhaler above with the grey cap) has been around for a while, but was only used for those 12 and older. A new study has shown that it can safely be used in kids 6-12.

I love my Asthma Doc because he is willing to try different medications, different doses, etc to find one that we feel controls our asthma. 

How do you know if your asthma is in control? GSK has an Asthma Control TestTM for those 12 and older. This is the Asthma Control Test for 4-11 year olds.

If your child's asthma is not in control, talk to your doc to see if they want your child to change a dose/try a new inhaler.

Life is short! Let's keep those lungs working!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Asthma moms! Are you taking care of yourself?

With 25 years of parenting under my belt, you would think that I would have learned by now how to take care of myself AND my kids, but nope.

This photo is me in the hospital, having some tests run.

Apparently years of chronic stress have taken a toll on my poor little body.

As mom to 3 kids with asthma, we have had a LOT of stress over the years. My two youngest kids were hospitalized 12 times for asthma (2 were ICU.)

When my kids were little, it seemed like they were ALWAYS sick! If they would come home from school with a runny nose, I would start to panic. For us, it would just be a matter of time before all the other cold symptoms would start (sneezing, coughing and wheezing). 

We knew where to find all the after hours pediatrician offices!

But wait, there's more!

And for us, that would mean a 3 day hospital stay. But we also had two other kids at home, so how do we juggle all of that? Who could pick them up from school? Take them to scouts? Dance? Drive to Target at 10:30 at night (on the way home from my turn at the hospital) because the new semester was starting and my son needed shorts for gym class? True story by the way.......

Throw in a car accident or two, black mold in my house, six family members dying and the odd assortment of every day stress of being a mom, and it's no wonder my health suffers!

As part of the pre-flight announcements, the flight attendants will always tell you that if the cabin suddenly loses pressure, an oxygen mask will drop. They tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before you help your child.

How many of us do that? Our first instinct is to put on our child's oxygen mask first, then take care of ourselves. 

That sounds like the life of a mom in so many ways. We make sure everyone else is fed, dressed and off to school. We take kids to piano lessons, swimming lesson and attend their band concerts. In between we put in a full day at the office (or a full day of taking care of kids at home.)

With kids with a chronic illness like asthma, you throw in all of the medical stuff on top of that and its no wonder we have a hard time keeping up - let alone time to take care of ourselves.   

For all of you asthma moms - what have you found to help you handle stress?

Yoga? Funny movies? A bike ride or walk? Chocolate?

Comment below - maybe you can spark an idea for another asthma mom. And together, we can take a moment for ourselves! 



Thursday, February 2, 2017

Do I disagree with the experts? Well.....yes!

I feel that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating asthma. You can see from the picture above a small sample of what we have around the house for allergies and asthma.

My 3 kids and I all take different medication and different doses of allergy and asthma medicine.

Son #1 swears by Allegra, but daughter Kitty likes Zyrtec. I can't take either one because it makes me feel WAY too tired. So I use an over the counter nose spray .

The same is true for our asthma medicine, we all have different inhalers that we feel work best for us.

But with asthma medicines - what works best? Inhalers or nebulizers?

Do I think they are right? 


I get that they are researchers and they have their professional opinions and the science to back it up.....

But, I know my body, and I know what works best FOR ME. There are times when I am so sick that I am breathing really shallow (I can't take in a deep breathe). In fact, if I try to breathe deeply, I will start coughing so hard I can't seem to catch my breathe and I almost throw up.

So, when that happens, I CAN'T use my inhaler because I can't breathe in deep enough to inhale the medicine. But, I can sit on the couch and slowly breathe in the mist from the nebulizer while I try to stay calm. (Staying calm is not easy when you are desperately trying to breathe....)

Yes, I know that a nebulizer takes more time. But, if you can't breathe in deeply to use an inhaler, what choice do you have?!

I have noticed the same thing with my kids. When they were little and either headed to the hospital/or had just been discharged from the hospital, they were really weak and breathing was a BIG job. They couldn't breathe in deep enough to use an inhaler. So, we used the nebulizer.

I also liked being able to give them a breathing treatment while they were sleeping. We had an oxygen monitor, and I would check on them often during the night when they had pneumonia. If their oxygen level was low, I would plug in the nebulizer near their bed, strap the mask to their face while they slept and give them a breathing treatment.

We TRIED having them sit up during the night and breathe in deep enough to use their inhaler. Tried. No dice. Didn't work. They would start a really bad coughing spell, and sometimes they would throw up.

So, we learned to use the nebulizer when they were really sick.

We pack the nebulizer when we travel. It's been to the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, grandma's house, etc. We learned to never leave home without it.

Remember, everyone with asthma is different. Asthma flare ups (or attacks) can be different too. Some are mild and can easily be treated by an inhaler. Other times, only a nebulizer will do.

So, what works best for you? Inhaler or nebulizer? Talk to your doctor and she can help you decide what's best for you. Even if it's not what the researchers say you should be can be a rebel like me and disagree!