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Monday, June 25, 2018

Fireworks, smoke and asthma

 (Shutterstock image)

Summer has flown by and I realized that Independence Day is just around the corner. That means wearing anything I can find that is red, white or blue. Then going to the annual parade, and watching fireworks.

Normally, we just watch aerial fireworks from a nearby city celebration. We found a great spot overlooking the valley, and we can see the fireworks perfectly.  But since we are a few miles away, we don't have to worry about the smoke. 

This year, we moved into a new neighborhood. The new neighbors were telling us about an annual  4th of July tradition. They hold a neighborhood BBQ, parade for the kiddos, and end the night with a "Cul de sac of Fire."

Hhhmm. I was okay until they mentioned fireworks. They make me VERY worried. Smoke from fireworks landed Son #2 in ICU when he was 8 years old, and it was one VERY scary time for us. 

So, I am very worried about fireworks and smoke. Not only do I worry about Son #2, but I also have 2 other children with asthma (and I also have asthma.) So we could all have an asthma attack, ER visit or hospitalization.

In fact, Son #2 is older now, but was just saying that he dreads 4th of July and the fireworks because he struggles to breath for several days (because it takes that long for the air to clear out.) Our street is usually so smoky from fireworks that we can hardly see the house across the street!

I have asthma attacks EVERY time I try to go outside to watch the neighborhood fireworks, so with the Cul de sac of Fire, I will be watching from inside my house! (With all of the doors and windows closed!) 

The American College of  Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) says:

"Fireworks and campfires are a staple of the 4th of July, but smoke can cause asthma symptoms to flare. Allergists recommend keeping your distance from campfires – and if you have to be near one, sit upwind if possible. If you can’t resist the fireworks, consider wearing a NIOSH N95 rated filter mask to keep smoke out of your lungs, and always carry your reliever inhaler."

 If you are going to be around fireworks on 4th of July, be careful! Keep your distance (or watch them from a building!) and make sure you have your inhaler or nebulizer handy!

 

 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Horses, teenagers and asthma

(Shutterstock)

There comes a time when you realize that you taught your kids well and they actually LISTENED to what you said!

As a Mom with asthma, who has 3 adult children with asthma, our life is always changing.

We all have different asthma triggers, and we try to avoid our triggers as much as we can.

In fact, when Daughter Kitty was young, she loved horses. So, she started riding lessons. But, she kept having a LOT of problems with her allergies while she was riding. Those allergies would trigger an asthma attack.

The arena where she took lessons was a long drive from our house. So, she would take her allergy and asthma medicine, but then still have problems while she was riding. She would change her shirt to try to get most of the dirt and horse dander off before we drove home. But she would still be sneezing, wheezing, and coughing.

So, we ended those lessons.

Now she is older, and two of her high school buddies also love horses and work at a barn. Which is fabulous - except when they get together for a BBQ after work.

During the BBQ, Kitty noticed she was sneezing, wheezing and coughing. She and her friends (who also have asthma) figured out it was the horse dander that was still on her friend's clothing. 

So, the 3 of them figured out a plan. Her friends would go home first, shower and change clothes, and then come over for the next BBQ.

I was so happy, because I knew that she had learned how to take care of herself and her asthma. She's headed to college, and I won't always be around. So my kids have to learn how to take care of their allergies and asthma. 

So, it was a proud mama moment!

Friday, June 15, 2018

"Stock albuterol" inhalers in schools

(Infographic courtesy of Allergy & Asthma Network) 

What is "stock albuterol?" 

Well, that means schools can "stock" (or store) an albuterol inhaler in school - in case someone has an emergency.

 Shouldn't everyone have their own inhaler? Well, in a perfect world, yes. Inhalers are small and can be easily lost, left at home, or even expire before they are empty.

I have heard many stories of families that can't afford an inhaler, so 3 or 4 kids are sharing one inhaler at school. Or sometimes mom takes the inhaler to work, and if the school nurse calls her, she will take the inhaler to the school for her child to use. They family shares 1 inhaler between mom or dad's office and the school.

I don't know about any of you, but I had moments of panic when I couldn't find my inhaler - even though I KNEW it was in my purse.


This is why there are stock inhalers in schools.


11 states allow schools to stock albuterol inhalers. Is your state one of the lucky states? You can check the graphic up above. The dark blue states are schools that have stock albuterol laws. Yellow states have guidelines.

Looks like my state needs some work!

What about your state? Ask your school nurse, superintendent or your local legislator why your school doesn't allow stock albuterol inhaler for emergencies. 

You can also contact Allergy & Asthma Network. They are based in Virginia and are:

"Allergy & Asthma Network is the leading nonprofit organization whose mission is to end the needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions through outreach, education, advocacy and research."
Allergy & Asthma Network sponsor a Day on Capitol Hill in Washington DC each May. They work tirelessly on laws to protect families and help create new laws for families with allergies and asthma.

I was lucky enough to go to DC and talk to my legislators. It's not that scary, you just share your story of living with allergies and asthma. Many of us have some pretty scary and powerful stories of dealing with allergies or asthma. You can talk to your local or state legislators too.

Allergy & Asthma Network can explain how to talk to your local legislators, PTA, etc and educate them about important issues with allergies and asthma. 


Lend your voice! You can help make a difference!


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Don't forget asthma inhalers when school is out!


(Shutterstock image)

School is out for summer in most states, and that means emptying out the backpack your kids have been carrying around all year (how long has THAT been in there?)
 
As you empty out their backpacks, make sure you check for their asthma inhaler.
 
Some kids will have an inhaler at home and another one at school. Sometimes you can forget about the inhaler at school. 
 
Older kids usually carry their inhalers in their backpacks, but the younger kids might have theirs stored in the teacher's desk.
 
By the way, did you know it's legal in every state in American for kids to carry their inhaler with them at school? American Lung Association says:
 
"Although all 50 states and the District of Columbia have passed a law allowing students to carry and use inhalers at school, some kids are still being denied access to these lifesaving medications during the school day."
 
When my kids were little, I would fill out a permission form at the beginning of every school year and Asthma Specialist would sign it. That would allow them to legally carry their inhaler with them at all times (even though schools are a drug free zone.)
 
Since our family has had LOTS of experience with asthma (it's been 18 years since the 3 kids and I were diagnosed - and we had had 12 hospitalizations for asthma). So, we are very used to inhalers and nebulizers. My kids were responsible enough to carry their inhaler when they were very young. 
 
But other families may find that young kids goof off with inhalers (spray it in their air, let their friends play with it, etc.) So they may have the teacher keep it in his or her desk. 
 
So, do the "end of the year dump"of the backpack and look for your kid's inhaler. If you can't find it, you may have to double check with their teacher or school nurse.
 
Chances are you are going to need that over the summer!