Breathe EZ Archives - Active Healthcare

Surviving Summer Asthma Flare-Ups

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ Leave a comment   , ,

summer asthma flare upsSummer is here! People with asthma should always be prepared for asthma triggers as the weather continues to get hotter.

You may experience triggers like coughing and shortness of breath due to the hot weather. Here are some tips for surviving summer asthma flare ups.

Tip 1: Exercise smart.

People with asthma may be more sensitive to extreme temperatures and the pollution that comes with it. That is why it is important to avoid outdoor exercising if air pollution is high. If you are going to work out, try to plan outdoor activities for early morning and late evening.

Tip 2: Check air quality

Always check the air quality before going outside. You can reduce the impact of your asthma triggers by being prepared and knowing your limits.

Sign up for air quality alerts by visiting airnow.gov.

Tip 3: Traveling Smart.

It is always best to plan ahead when you have asthma, especially before you take a trip. Whether you are traveling by airplane, train, or car it is always best to keep your asthma medications on hand at all times. Consider purchasing a portable nebulizer, which allows you to do treatments while traveling.

Tip 4: Talk to your Doctor.

If you are experiencing asthma symptoms and you cannot get your symptoms under control, it may be time to see your healthcare provider. Make sure to keep your asthma action plan up to date.

Tip 5: Exposure to Bad Environments

Change clothes and shower after outside work to remove allergens that could trigger an asthma attack. It is always best to be aware of what can be harmful to you and your asthma and take the proper steps to prevent yourself from having an attack.

Additional Resources

Ozone and Air Quality

AirNow – Air Quality Basics


Asthma Protection During Hurricane Season

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ Leave a comment   , , , , , ,

Are You Prepared for Hurricane Season?

With June 1st being the beginning of hurricane season, what’s a better time to discuss how to protect yourself and your family from asthma triggers after a hurricane or tropical storm? Hurricanes produce high winds which blow pollen and mold spores into the air that can make asthma symptoms worse. During these times people with asthma can experience wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest, and other complications with breathing. Here are a few tips to help prevent asthma attacks during the upcoming hurricane season.

hurricane season

Avoid Homes or Buildings with Suspected Mold Damage

Once any flooding clears and the cleanup process begins people with asthma are at risk of exposure to mold and dust. In extreme cases it is best to not even enter a building or home that has mold growth that you can see or smell. But if you have to be exposed to these conditions, protect yourself by wearing a filtering mask, rubber gloves, and eye protection.

Coping with Stress and Emotion

During the aftermath of a hurricane, stress levels are high and they can trigger an attack. That’s why it is best to take care of your emotional state of mind during these stressful times. Communicate and connect with other people and seek help if needed.

Washing Hands

Keeping your hands clean can help prevent the spread of germs. In many cases catching a cold or the flu can also trigger an asthma attack. If safe water is unavailable on a temporary basis use hand sanitizer.

Stock Up on Asthma Medications

Most importantly always have your asthma medication on hand and use as prescribed or when needed to control your asthma attacks. Consider storing medication and important documents in a waterproof container.

What About Climate Change?

Climate change may play a major factor in increasing allergies and asthma triggers. Rising temperatures lead to longer allergy seasons which can make the air quality worse. A warming climate also increases ground level ozone levels. This pollutant is considered to be one of the biggest hazards to people with asthma. It causes shortness of breath, coughing, aggravates lung diseases, and increases the frequency of asthma attacks.

Additional Resources

Helpful Links – Post Hurricane – Indoor Air Quality
What Climate Change Means for Allergy Season


Fun Kids Asthma Awareness Activities

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health Leave a comment   , ,

What’s better than sharing a fun website with your kids? Here is one to help them learn more about asthma for Asthma Awareness month. The name of the website is NoAttacks.org which is sponsored by the EPA.

When you visit the website you will be drawn in by all of the bright colors and fun activities. You will see different sections that you and your child can click on to learn more about asthma attack prevention and also tips on how to come up with an asthma action plan.

asthma triggers

Kids’ Stuff

In this section you’ll find downloadable books to read and coloring books.
There are also other fun activities from crossword puzzles to seek and find that will help you and your child learn more about asthma and asthma awareness.

air quality

Media Center

In the media center, watch and sing along with The Breathe Easies. The group sings about how to stop your asthma triggers in your home.

The Breathe Easies songs are available in five different languages, English, Spanish, Lakota, Navajo, and Anishinaabe.

breathe easies


7 Asthma Myths for Asthma Awareness Month

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ Leave a comment   , , , , ,

Did you know that May is Asthma Awareness month? With spring in the air it is a perfect time to test your knowledge and learn more about asthma symptoms and triggers. Check out these seven asthma myths.

Myth: All Asthma is the same

There are several types of asthma but here are the most common ones. Allergic asthma is most commonly associated with grass, mold, and dust. In cough-variant asthma the number one symptom is coughing. This commonly flairs when there is dust, cold air or a strong smell. Exercise-induced asthma is when you have a hard time catching your breath during intensive physical activity. The effects can last five to twenty minutes after working out.

Myth: People with Asthma Should Not Exercise

Physical activity is beneficial to everyone, including those with asthma. Exercise can be easier for people with asthma when it is done in places of high humidity as this helps open the airways.

Read some tips about Exercising with Asthma

Myth: Pets cause Asthma

For some people, asthma is triggered by pet allergens. The protein found in pets’ saliva, skin flakes, urine, and feces can also cause allergic reactions. Surprisingly the fur of an animal is not always an asthma trigger. Animals with fur can also be a carrier of other triggers such as dust and other allergens.

Read more about how Puppies Can Reduce A Child’s Risk for Asthma

Myth: Don’t Worry about Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke and smoke in general is not good for anyone’s health. Exposure to smoke is one of the most common asthma triggers. Smoke irritates airways and causes them to swell and narrow. Irritated airways can more easily fill with mucus making breathing more difficult.

Myth: You can Outgrow Asthma

People who have asthma when they are very young may outgrow their symptoms as their lungs develop. However, in many cases, symptoms can reoccur in adulthood following exposure to smoke or respiratory viruses.

Myth: Asthma is Contagious

Asthma is not contagious but it can run in your family. The Centers for Disease Control report that three-fifths of all asthma cases are hereditary. If one of your parents have asthma you are three to six times more likely to develop it yourself.

Myth: Asthma has a Cure

There is no cure for asthma but with the right tools and knowledge, your asthma can be managed so you can live a healthy life.

So how did you do on the quiz? See the additional links below to expand your asthma knowledge. Why not share this post with friends and family who need to learn more about this chronic disease.

Additional resources:

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America – Asthma Facts and Figures
Asthma Facts and Figures

Social Media – Asthma and Allergy Awareness Campaigns
Asthma and Allergy Awareness Campaigns


CDC Reports Drop in US Asthma Rates

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health Leave a comment   , , , , , , , , , ,

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released data on the state of childhood asthma in their CDC Vital Signs: Asthma in Children – United States report. The news is good – there has been a drop in asthma rates. The number of children that experienced an asthma attack in the past year has declined with the overall rate dropping 8 % since 2001. Asthma is a prevalent chronic lung disease effecting 6 million children in the United States.

While this is good news in terms of quantity of attacks, the data did reveal that despite fewer attacks one in 6 with asthma still end up in the emergency room and one in 20 are hospitalized for their condition each year.

Other Findings in the Report on Asthma Rates:

  • The rate of hospitalizations for children with asthma fell from 10 percent in 2003 to about 5 percent in 2013.
  • Children with asthma are missing less school – on average 2.6 days per child in 2013.
  • More kids with asthma are learning the signs and symptoms of an asthma attack and how using an asthma action plan can improve their control.

Green, Yellow or Red: What is Asthma Control?

Traffic LightWell controlled asthma means that your child is in the GREEN zone of the asthma action plan. Good control implies that your child’s symptoms such as coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath occur only two or fewer days per week.

Other indications of well controlled asthma include restful sleep where symptoms don’t wake your child at night. Asthma should also not affect any of your child’s daily activities. Lastly, your child shouldn’t need to use their quick-relief inhaler very often, no more than two days per week.

Knowing your child’s best rate of air flow, as measured by a peak flow meter, is another tool to monitor their asthma control. Air flow measurements that drop below 80 % of their personal best levels may indicate it is time for medication.

Is your Asthma Action Plan Up to Date?

Every child with asthma needs their own customized asthma action plan. Your healthcare provider or asthma educator can help you create one – or help you update an existing plan.

Key Asthma Action Plan Details

  • What medicines to take and under what circumstances
  • List of asthma triggers
  • What early symptoms to watch out for
  • Instructions on how to manage a serious attack and when to seek emergency care
  • ‘Personal Best’ air flow as measured by a peak flow meter for comparison

Additional Resources

CDC Vital Signs: Asthma in Children – United States

Community Care of North Carolina: How to Create an Asthma Action Plan

FAQ: Are You Asthma Aware?


5 Keys to a Fun and Safe Summer Camp Experience for Kids with Asthma and Allergies

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health Leave a comment   , , , , , ,

Summer may seem years away when you are wearing a scarf and lots of layers on a cold winter’s day. It will be here before you know it. What is your favorite memory of summer camp? Do you have happy memories of canoeing, campfires or maybe even sleeping under the stars? Summer camp is a time for all children to spend time on their own, make new friends and try out new activities.

As a parent of a child with asthma you already have many ongoing concerns about their daily environment and its impact on their lung health. Your apprehension is normal. As we have discussed in other asthma related posts, advance preparation is always the best strategy when choosing any activity for your child with asthma.

Summer Camp Fun

  • Consider both Traditional and Asthma-focused Camps

    An asthma-focused camp may include educational components and have specially trained staff. Traditional camps can be okay too, especially if they are willing to make accommodations for your child’s asthma.

  • Not All Camps are Created Equal

    Remember that some camps may be more asthma friendly than others. Consider your child’s specific triggers and allergens. Those who are very allergic to animals might be better off at a nature camp vs one centered on horseback riding. Those with high mold sensitivities might be better off at a camp with air conditioned cabins.

  • Review Camp Medication Administration Guidelines

    Check in with camp staff in advance to find out how medication is administered. Research how they manage daily, rescue and emergency medications. Ask your questions before camp begins. Find out which medications your child can keep with them and self-administer. Ask if they can keep rescue inhalers and epi pens with them at all times.

  • Food Concerns – From Campfire Treats to Dining Hall Delicacies

    Don’t forget about food allergies. Check out the meal and snack offerings. If your child can’t enjoy typical camp treats due to allergies see if you can send along some substitutes in advance so your child won’t feel left out.

  • Before, During and After

    Work with your child’s healthcare provider or asthma specialist to create a before, during and after plan for camp.

    Before: Are all of their medications up to date, including dosage changes related to your child’s growth since last summer.

    During: Update or create an asthma action plan to include situations that might arise at camp if your child is exposed to a trigger or allergen – whether known or new.

    After: At the conclusion of camp check in with the staff to ask how things went. This will help you plan for future camps. Don’t just ask about your child’s asthma. Ask your child about their favorite (and not so favorite) parts of their time at camp.


Camp Victory Junction

Children with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, and others with serious illnesses that would preclude them from attending a traditional summer camp program should look into the options at Camp Victory Junction.

This summer, children ages 6 to 16, with asthma can register for Camp Victory Junction in Randleman, NC. The week of July 15-19 is designated especially for kids with heart, lung, kidney, and immunological diseases. Camp Victory Junction provides a typical camp experience within a medically-safe environment.

Additional Resources

Traveling with Asthma

The Sunshine Vitamin

Children’s Asthma Camps – Find a Camp (Nationwide search)

Participating organizations include: American Lung Association, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, American Academy of Pediatrics, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and the American Thoracic Society.

About Camp Victory Junction

Victory Junction enriches the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses by providing life-changing camp experiences that are exciting, fun and empowering; all in a medically-safe environment at no cost to the camper or their family.

Located in the hills of Randleman, North Carolina, Victory Junction is spread across 84 acres, allowing children to do what they do best— be kids, play, imagine, make friends and enjoy the adventures and experiences of camp life.


Cold Weather Tips for Asthma Sufferers

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ Leave a comment   , , , ,

North Carolina is typically known for its mild winters. 2018 looks to be off to a very chilly start!

People who suffer from asthma may be caught off guard when the weather forecast turns unusually cold. As with most things, preparation is the key to keeping asthma under control.

Cold Air = Increased Lung Inflammation

cold weather tips asthmaWhen you step outside and take a deep breath in cold air – it’s shocking – you feel like you can’t take a deep breath. While breathing in cold air can be uncomfortable for anyone, people who suffer from asthma need to be more cautious.

Cold air can shock the lungs of people with asthma. This shock can cause inflammation – which may lead to an asthma attack. Breathing can become more challenging since cold air also constricts airways. While those with asthma may be able to tolerate breathing in cold air for a few minutes, exercising outside could be dangerous.

Don’t forget that cold winter air is also drier, another potential airway irritant for those who suffer from asthma. Wind can also stir up more dust and other allergens.

Minimize the impact of Cold Weather

  • Consider exercising indoors. If you do exercise outdoors make sure to warm up properly.
  • Take your asthma medication 10 to 15 minutes prior to heading outside into the cold air.
  • Wear a scarf or a mask over your nose and mouth when outdoors to help warm the air entering your lungs. Mom was right, dress in layers and wear a hat!
  • On days where extremely cold temperatures are in the forecast plan to minimize the time you spend outside.

 
Remember that spending more time indoors can increase your exposure to the many indoor allergens and asthma triggers. Dampness and mold are two common indoor asthma triggers. Adding some indoor humidity can help keep nasal passages from drying out, but watch for signs of too much humidity like mold and mildew.

In general, the winter is cold and flu season. Encourage children to cover their mouths and noses when they cough or sneeze. Frequent hand washing and avoiding those who are sick can help everyone stay healthy and happy this winter.


Exercising with Asthma: Your Lungs Will Thank You

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health, Men's Health, Women's Health 1 , , , , , , , , , ,

exercising with asthmaWe hear all the time from multiple sources to get more exercise.  Everyone has their reasons for not getting enough.  We all know we should do it more, but feel like we don’t have enough time or energy to do so.  If you suffer from asthma, you may fear that working out would make your symptoms worse.  Here are some of the best options for exercising with asthma

Exercising with Asthma: Best Exercises

  1. Walking – can actually improve one’s asthma symptoms if done long term and on a regular basis. It is recommended that asthma patients walk three times per week.  Remember to warm up and cool down just like with any other exercise.
  2. Yoga – allows us to control our breathing, which is beneficial for asthmatics because it can activate more areas of the lung.
  3. Biking – with the right pace, this is a great way to get your activity in and your stress level down.
  4. Golfing – the staggered activity of alternating swings with walking is great for keeping symptoms at bay, but be sure to check the pollen levels before heading out to the course.
  5. Running – keep your distance short and your pace moderate.
  6. Downhill Skiing — as long as you don’t try to tackle one of those black diamond slopes, this outdoor activity doesn’t require a lot of physical exertion, as the mountain does most of the work.
  7. Swimming – provided the pool doesn’t contain too much chlorine, the highly humidified, warm air breathed in while swimming can loosen mucus.

Exercising with Asthma: Best Sports

  1. Baseball – allows for breaks in activity to keep symptoms in check. Take a hit on your inhaler as needed while sitting in the dugout waiting to bat.
  2. Racquet sports – the players control the pace of the game, allowing for plenty of rest and water breaks.
  3. Softball – similar to baseball, players have adequate rest to hydrate, use their inhaler, and regroup.
  4. Volleyball – A little more intense, but the court is small, so players can move quickly in short bursts.
  5. Football – while sometimes annoying to spectators, this sport allows for many breaks between downs.

Activities such as cross-country skiing, basketball, and soccer are a bit too strenuous for asthmatics.  Cross-country skiing can dry out the airways with the cold air being a contributing factor.  Basketball requires too much running up and down the court while not providing enough rest time between plays.  Soccer players are in constant motion chasing the ball unless they are a goaltender.

Exercising in a way that works for you is great way to destress, which, in turn, can help keep your asthma symptoms from flaring up.  Always remember to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program.  Keep your water bottle and inhaler with you at all times.  And remember, exercise should also be something you enjoy.

Additional Resources for Exercising with Asthma

Check out our previous exercise-related blogs for more information:

Regular, Moderate Exercise Improves Asthma Symptoms
Don’t Wheeze Your Way Through Exercise-Induced Asthma

 


Six Best and Worst Foods for Asthmatics

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health, Men's Health, Women's Health Leave a comment   , , , ,

fruitAsthma is a challenging, but very treatable illness. There are many medications and tools available to help relieve symptoms. Did you know that asthma prevention can start in your kitchen? Not all foods are created equal. What foods might be best for asthmatics? There are even healthy foods that may worsen your asthma symptoms.

Foods That May Improve Asthma Symptoms and Support Your Respiratory System

1. Apples – these contain flavonoids such as khellin, which has been shown to open the airways.
2. Cantaloupe – these are rich in Vitamin C, which we already know is good for our immune system. This vitamin aids in clearing out congestion in the airways.
3. Carrots – these contain beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that is converted to Vitamin A. This vitamin can reduce the possibility of exercise-induced asthma.
4. Coffee – Coffee is a natural source of caffeine, which has been proven to improve airflow. On the other hand, caffeine (especially in high doses like that found in coffee) is not recommended for children for various reasons.
5. Flax seeds – these are rich in Omega-3s, which research has found to be beneficial to asthma. They also contain magnesium which relaxes the muscles surrounding the bronchi and airways, keeping them open.
6. Garlic – Garlic is an anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatories are beneficial to asthma because they reduce swelling and mucus production in the airways.

Potential Allergens and Intolerances That May Worsen Asthma

1. Eggs – Because many people already suffer from an egg allergy, the reaction when consuming eggs can be in the form of exacerbated asthma.
2. Peanuts – Another common allergen. Severe reactions can be fatal. Those with a peanut allergy can actually develop asthma.
3. Salt – Salt contributes to inflammation by causing fluid retention.
4. Shellfish – Yet another common allergen, particularly in children.
5. Wine – Studies suggest that the sulfites in wine may trigger asthma attacks. On the other hand, red wine has been found to lessen symptoms if consumed in moderation.
6. Milk – If you are lactose intolerant or have any other dairy-related allergy, consuming milk products can cause wheezing, coughing, and other respiratory problems. On the other hand, milk contains Vitamin D, which can ease symptoms.

We hope that this information has given you some food for thought. Ask your doctor if dietary changes could be included as a part of your asthma management plan. He or she may also be able to test you for food-related allergies that might be exacerbating your symptoms.

Additional Resources

Read our blog on How to Manage Food Allergies During the Holidays

Check out the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s great online resource for kids with food allergies.


Music to Our Lungs: How Making Music Can Help Asthma

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health, Men's Health, Women's Health Leave a comment   , , , , ,

Music is a wonderful stress release for many people. For some, the release comes from listening to the music and relating to the lyrics. It strikes a chord inside of us all. For others, making music is the release. Whether you play an instrument or sing, you are successfully dissolving the stress of your day-to-day. Congratulations! You have found an outlet.

You might think that asthma would make this more difficult and less enjoyable. Good news! You can still make music and be symptom free. Playing a wind instrument can actually make the asthmatic more aware of his/her breathing, as well as improve their posture. They feel calmer and more in control, which will make it less likely that they will suffer from an asthma attack.

Many children make music their extracurricular activity and/or attend music class during their regular school day. If your child is interested in music as a hobby, but suffers from asthma, there is hope. Talk to his/her doctor for tips on how they can manage this while participating in music class, band, orchestra, or chorus.

If your child is interested in band or orchestra

Certain instruments are better than others at helping asthma sufferers both with their symptoms and stress levels. Some good ones are:

  • Drums — gives the musician a great cardio workout
  • Strings — increases finger dexterity and motor skills
  • Trumpet — requires copious amounts of fast, high-pressure air
  • Trombone — requires a lot of free-flowing air
  • Flute — requires the most air out of all wind instruments
  • Oboe — the reed creates high levels of pressure, causing the player to carefully control their breathing

 

For children who like to hear the sound of their own voice

Chorus may be the better option. Asthmatic vocalists benefit from the controlled, deep breathing that singing requires.  Trained singers know that breathing from their diaphragm is the only way to go, which keeps them from feeling breathless.

Music instructors will assist you with controlling your breathing in such a way that you are not even thinking about your asthma while making music.  If you are performing and feel your chest tighten (a familiar sensation for those suffering with asthma), pull out your inhaler in between songs to regroup.

Remember to share any concerns with your doctor.  They can work with you to adjust your treatment to incorporate any new hobbies or activities.  Music can help the asthmatic patient manage their stress better, which, in turn, can help them manage their asthma better.

 


Albuterol to the Rescue

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health Leave a comment   , , , , ,

Rescue inhalers are a great comfort to anyone with asthma since the onset of symptoms can be sudden and frightening. Since 2004, Federal law allows children to carry rescue medication for emergencies at school.What happens when a child forgets their inhaler at home? New federal legislation may help address this concern.

School-Based Respiratory Health Management Act | House Resolution 2285

School Rescue MedicationFederal Bill House Resolution 2285 was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year. If passed, this bill would allow trained school personnel to administer rescue medications.

Eleven states already allow the most common rescue medication, albuterol, to be stocked at their schools. This medication can be administered by school nurses and other trained staff during a breathing emergency.

Unfortunately, North Carolina does not allow schools to supply albuterol. In most states, a child with asthma who forgets their rescue medication may be at increased risk of complications. The states with existing laws and guidelines to stock albuterol in schools include: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia.

The American Lung Association has developed a model policy for school districts. Schools can use this tool to create and implement rescue medication policies for their facility.

Wonder How Your State Ranks for Asthma and Allergy School Policies?

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAF) releases a yearly state honor roll. This report card rates each state’s asthma and allergy policies. States are ranked in a number of categories. Ranking categories include Medication and Treatment policies, Awareness policies, and School Environment policies.

The 2016 state honor roll list includes North Carolina. Our state met 19 out of the 23 AAF core policy standards. There are, of course, areas for improvement. The AAF suggested that North Carolina add more full-time school nurses and provide additional training for school staff in asthma awareness. North Carolina can also improve their facility design standards to promote healthy school environments.

Additional Resources:

House Resolution 2285 – School-Based Respiratory Health Management Act

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America – 2016 State Honor Roll

2014 EPI Pen Legislation


Does Back to School Mean Back to Allergies?

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health, Men's Health, Women's Health Leave a comment   , ,

Summer is coming to a close for students in North Carolina.  The change of seasons and environment can spell trouble for asthma and allergy sufferers.  They already know their at-home triggers and how to combat them, but have less control over their environment at school.  Common classroom triggers include pollen, dust mites, mold, chalk dust, and pet dander.  With the help of school administrators and parents, students can remain focused on their studies and less on their allergies.

Allergy and Asthma Preventative Measures for Back to School

  • Keep windows closed when pollen counts are high
  • Repair leaking water pipes and faucets
  • Install high efficiency air filters
  • If the classroom has a pet, position asthmatic and allergic students far away from it. In addition to the dander produced by the class pet, it is possible that a fellow student might also transport pet dander into the classroom from home.
  • Address any concerns that aren’t resolved by your administrators with county school officials, if necessary

 

Prepare for a Successful and Allergy-Free School Year

  • Make an appointment with an allergist
  • Make an appointment with your child’s teacher and/or school administrator and, if possible, perform a walk-through of the classroom to pinpoint potential triggers (this could be done at meet-the-teacher night, as well)
  • Share your child’s treatment plan with school staff and bus drivers
  • Discuss what to do in an emergency
  • Provide the school nurse with any medications the student needs, as well as the dosage and instructions
  • Also, have your child’s doctor complete your school district’s Medication Authorization form

 

Don’t Forget About Recess and Sports Activities in Your Planning

  • Use a short-acting inhaler 15 minutes before any activity, under your healthcare provider’s recommendations
  • Stay hydrated
  • Choose activities that are less intense
  • If it’s cold out, bundle up
  • Protect your eyes and lungs with a mask or bandanna

 

Going back to school is an exciting time and can be made less stressful for asthma and allergy sufferers by taking this advice into careful consideration.

 


Got Asthma or Allergies? There’s an App for That!

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ Leave a comment   ,
Smartphone apps for both Android and iPhone are not just for shopping and social media. Most are free to download. We’ve blogged about asthma apps before. Here are a few new technology tools to better manage your asthma and allergy symptoms.

Five Free Apps for Asthmatics and Allergy sufferers to Download Now

Pick An App to Manage Your Asthma

AllergyManager

Geared towards helping those suffering with nasal allergies by allowing you to look up daily pollen counts. The app also provides 4-day allergy forecasts and coping tips. You can also use the symptom and severity tracker to report back to your doctor.

Asthma Ally

Pinpoints asthma and allergy triggers by tracking airborne irritants near you including pollen, dust, and the ozone. Allows you to log your daily symptoms before your next doctor’s appointment.

First Aid by American Red Cross

Offers step-by-step instructions on how to best handle an asthma or allergy attack in the form of safety tips and video demonstrations. It’s a good way to stay informed even when symptoms aren’t as bad so you can be prepared ahead of time for when an attack occurs.

WebMD Allergy

A lot of people turn to WebMD when they have symptoms they are unsure about, and now allergy sufferers can carry personalized allergy and weather forecasts with them, as well as tips. With this app, you can track how you feel on a particular day, as well as access an extensive library of articles and videos.

Zyrtec Allergycast

Yes, you may see some advertising for Zyrtec here, but the app also provides your local pollen index for the day and reports on how it might affect you. In addition, you are provided with alerts when the pollen level is high in your specific area, as well as a 10-day forecast so you can plan ahead.

Asthma can flare in any season. More flowers and plants are in bloom in the summer months; which worsen allergy symptoms. We hope that these apps along with your regular treatment regimen will have you enjoying your summer and worrying less about your asthma or allergies.


The Double Threat of Vaping

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health, Men's Health, Women's Health Leave a comment   , , ,

Food industry workers at a microwave popcorn factory were the first to get sick from inhaling the vapors from artificial flavorings. The vapors caused symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, similar to those of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Popcorn: Tasty Snack; Popcorn Lung: Deadly Disease

Dubbed popcorn lung, this condition (bronchiolitis obliterans) is a serious and irreversible lung disease. The culprit is the chemical diacetyl. When inhaled, it scars the tiny air sacs in the lungs resulting in the thickening and narrowing of one’s airways.

While many major popcorn manufacturers have removed this chemical from their manufacturing process, it still poses a threat. Diacetyl is also an ingredient in the flavorings for e-cigarettes. A Harvard study found that 39 of 51 e-cigarette brands contained the offending ingredient.

With flavors like ‘Cinnatoast Munch,’ ‘Cotton Candy,’ and ‘Kiwi Watermelon,’ teens are drawn to vaping. Not only do teens think vaping looks cool; they justify their new habit by saying it is better than smoking. Some e-cigarette ‘juices’ do not contain nicotine, but there is still a danger from the artificial flavorings.

As we discussed in our March blog vaping is often a method people choose for quitting tobacco, but can be very harmful to asthmatics. Vaping is not safe. Why put yourself at risk to develop ‘popcorn lung’? Don’t forget about the many other chemicals in e-cigarette vapor, like formaldehyde.

If you are a current smoker who desires to quit, there are better and healthier ways to accomplish this. A lot of people have trouble quitting because of an oral fixation. Below are some ideas to use as a substitute for smoking or vaping.

• Chew gum (some even contain nicotine) or eat hard candies.
• Get more exercise as this can reduce stress – which may lead smokers to crave a cigarette.
• Consider the nicotine patch which can curb your urge to smoke or vape.

The American Lung Association has many resources to help you quit smoking – or vaping.

Final Notes

Diacetyl has since been removed from the following brands of microwave popcorn: Orville Redenbacher, Act II, Pop Secret, and Jolly Time. So, don’t worry. Your favorite snack is safe now.

The FDA is closely monitoring this market and has begun to apply and enforce key provisions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. This 2009 law gives the FDA authority to regulate the tobacco market and minimize the negative impacts of smoking on America’s youth and families.

Resources

2016 Surgeon General Report detailing the use of e-cigarettes among youth and young adults.

Quitline NC:  1-800-QUIT-NOW or En Espanol at 1-855-Dejelo-Ya


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: How Houseplants Affect Asthma and Air Quality

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ Leave a comment   , , , , , , , , , , ,

We are all familiar with the usual suspects that trigger asthma including secondhand smoke, dust mites, mold, pests like cockroaches, and pets. Did you know that your houseplants can affect the air quality in your home and your asthma?

The Good: Many Common Houseplants Improve Indoor Air Quality

houseplants and air qualityPlants are frequently used to mediate the effects of pollution and toxins in our external environment. Our indoor environments can contain toxins such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Two common indoor VOC pollutants are benzene and formaldehyde. Benzene can be found in plastics, fabrics, pesticides, and cigarette smoke. Common household items such as dish detergent, fabric softener, and carpet cleaners all may contain formaldehyde.

VOCs have been linked to asthma and more serious conditions including respiratory illnesses and cancer. Plants act as filters to remove these harmful pollutants via their leaves and roots. In addition, the microorganisms living in the plant’s soil are a big help in neutralizing the air. Air-quality friendly plants include the Peace Lily, Golden Pothos, Red-Edged Dracaena, Snake Plant, and Asparagus Fern.

The Bad: These Houseplants are Indoor Irritants

Your friendly ficus that fills an empty corner has allergens in its sap. Palms, of the male variety, produce excess pollen. Check in with your local nursery to find a ‘female’ palm which is not a pollen offender. English ivy can cause skin irritations. African violets have beautiful flowers, but their leaves are dust catchers.

Don’t forget about cut flowers! If you home includes allergy sufferers, you may want to select flowers that generate less pollen like lilies, iris, roses and zinnias. Try to avoid daisies, chrysanthemums, and sunflowers in your table top bouquets.

Healthy Plants Mean Healthier Air: Avoid the Ugly Reality of Mold and Fungi

Over-watering your plants can lead to the development of a fungus and mold which are known asthma triggers. Remember that plants like ferns can be kept in rooms with higher humidity levels, such as your bathroom to keep them healthy and minimize over-watering.

Additional Resources

NASA Guide to Air-Filtering Houseplants
Houseplant Watering Guide


EpiPen® Recall Announced by Mylan N.V.

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health Leave a comment   , ,

EpiPen Recall - 2017Meridian Medical Technologies, a Pfizer company and Mylan’s manufacturing partner, has expanded a voluntary recall of select lots of EpiPen (epinephrine injection, USP) and EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine injection, USP) Auto-Injectors to now include additional lots distributed in the U.S. and other markets in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Lots Effected by Recall

The recall impacts certain lots of the 0.3 mg and 0.15 mg strengths of EpiPen Auto-Injector. None of the recalled lots include the authorized generic for EpiPen Auto-Injector, which is also manufactured by Meridian Medical Technologies.

The manufacturer will be replacing the recalled devices at no cost.

Please visit Mylan’s website to read the Press Release with a list of the impacted lots that were sold in the United States and additional information on how to return effected devices.


Are You Asthma Aware?

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ 1 , ,

Did you know that May is Asthma Awareness Month?

Asthma Awareness MonthSpring is in the air, and as temperatures rise, an asthmatic’s symptoms reach their peak.

This is a perfect time to review some key points about asthma. With May quickly approaching, let’s have a refresher of some Frequently Asked Questions asked by asthmatics and their loved ones.

Question: Should I only take my controller medication if I’m having an attack?

Answer: No, controller medications are used to treat the underlying issue and not an attack. They do not immediately relieve symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, or chest tightness.

Question: Can I exercise and play sports even if I have asthma?

Answer: Yes, exercise is possible with asthma, but consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program or sport.

Question: Can I become addicted to my controller medication?

Answer: No, asthma medications are not considered addictive. With that said, it is important to understand them and to use them properly.

Question: Is it okay if I’m around smoke as long as I am outdoors?

Answer: No, secondhand smoke should always be avoided if you are an asthma sufferer because tobacco smoke is among the most common of asthma triggers.

Question: Does my controller medication stop working the longer I use it?

Answer: No, these medications are designed to work for the long haul and should be taken daily until your doctor suggests otherwise.

Question: Is it normal to use my rescue inhaler at least once per day?

Answer: No, this inhaler is not meant to be used every day, only in the instance of an asthma attack.

Question: Will using inhaled steroids/controller medication stunt my growth?

Answer: No, asthma drugs do not stunt growth, although one recent study did report a temporary stunt in childhood that disappears by adulthood.

To celebrate Asthma Awareness Month, the Triangle Asthma Coalition would like to make you aware of two upcoming events:

  1. 2017 Asthma Fair, May 6th, 9 AM to 12:30 PM, Raleigh, NC – Held at the Andrews Center at Wake Med and hosted by the Triangle Asthma Coalition, this educational event provides patients and their families with information about taking control of their asthma.
  2. 2017 Asthma Summit, May 24th, 8 AM to 4:15 PM, Burlington, NC – Held at St. Mark’s Church and hosted by the Asthma Alliance of North Carolina, the summit’s target audience includes nurses, respiratory therapists, registered environmental health specialists, and health educators.

For more information about the events, please visit the events page of the Triangle Asthma Coalition website.

Happy Asthma Awareness Month to all!

 


Vaping is Smoking, Too

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health Leave a comment   , ,

VapingIt’s no secret that tobacco is one of the most common asthma triggers. Tobacco smoke irritates the airways and causes your lungs to produce more mucus. In addition, it weakens the tiny hairs called cilia that sweep away mucus and other irritants that settle in your airways.

Quitting smoking is an excellent method of combating asthma, but you aren’t out of the woods yet. Another important risk factor to consider is secondhand smoke. It is especially harmful for children. If you are an asthmatic, tell your family and friends how tobacco smoke affects you. Have them smoke outside and far away from the doorway, if possible. Encourage them to quit for their own health, not just yours.

Vaping is Not Risk Free

Since it is common knowledge that tobacco smoke is very bad for one’s health, many nicotine addicts turn to electronic cigarettes and “vaping.” It gives many a false sense of security and the mindset of “at least I’m not smoking actual cigarettes.” Vaping is harmful, too, but in a different way. The vapor released by e-cigarettes contains formaldehyde, another asthma trigger. So, while people are on the right track with quitting tobacco, they need to know that vaping is not risk-free and may worsen their asthma symptoms. Vaping is a developing trend among teens because there are a number of flavors offered, some even tasting like candy and adult beverages.

Another thing to avoid is secondhand vapor. Since electronic cigarettes are a relatively new phenomenon, many businesses and workplaces do not have policies in place to keep employees and patrons from “vaping” indoors. In the same way you would tell your family and friends not to smoke around you, you should also ask them to vape elsewhere.

E-Cigarettes Pose Similar Risks

A recent National Jewish Health study links the liquid in e-cigarettes to an increase in respiratory infections. During the study, a test was performed on young, healthy non-smokers and it discovered that e-cigarette use damaged the cells in the airways that defend against harmful inhalants, such as viruses. “The cells showed a strong pro-inflammatory response within minutes and the risk of viral infection in those cells rose significantly,” said Hong Wei Chu, MD, who led the study.

If you are an asthmatic or have one in your life, remember to avoid both smoking and vaping for a healthier future.


When Valentine’s Day is Bittersweet

Lisa Feierstein Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health Leave a comment   , , ,

Valentine's candy heartsMost people are aware of the most common asthma triggers which are referred to as the 3 Ps: pets, pollen, and pollution. Recent studies have brought a new one to light – sugar. The reason? Sugar causes inflammation of the airways. I bet you didn’t know that a little sugar could cause such a reaction.

In 2008, Dr. Sonja Kiersten, a researcher from the Nestle Institute in Lausanne, Switzerland, began to make this discovery. Dr. Kiersten and her colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania used mice to perform their research by feeding them sugar water. This experiment produced the following results.

  • The mice’s airways became inflamed, which made them more prone to developing asthma.
  • The mice fed the sugar water had airways that were twice as reactive as those that drank plain water.
  • The mice became addicted to the sugar water and wanted more.

Limiting your sugar intake is beneficial to everyone, as sugar can affect your body in a variety of ways including:

  • It can lead to an over-active pancreas, which can cause inflammation in various parts of the body. The pancreas is a small organ, so it can only take so much before it starts releasing hormones that affect your sugar levels.  It also produces insulin.  When you feed it with refined sugar like that in a can of soda, for example, your pancreas goes into overdrive and produces too much insulin. This will, in turn, inflame air passages.
  • Excess sugar leads to weight gain. Obesity aggravates asthma, as it does with many other chronic illnesses.

In addition to sugar, dairy can also worsen an asthmatic’s symptoms.  Many doctors tell their asthma patients to try to eliminate dairy from their diets because of the mucus milk and cheese produce, which clogs the airways and constricts air passages.  Even coffee can be harmful.  It is definitely important for asthmatics to stay hydrated and water is the best way for them to do so.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, here are some ideas on how you and your family can celebrate this popular holiday with minimal impact:

  • Have your child take Valentines to school with small toys attached instead (ex: a balloon).
  • Do a Valentine’s Day craft.
  • Make a special, heart-shaped breakfast using cookie cutters.
  • Take him/her out on a “date” not involving food such as a movie, walk, game night, etc.


Five Flu Myths Debunked Just in Time for Flu Season

Lisa Feierstein Breathe EZ, Children's Health, Men's Health, Women's Health 1 , ,

January is the height of flu season, and if you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s not too late to do so.

Influenza or “the flu,” as it more commonly known. This respiratory virus that can be fatal and causes severe symptoms including high fever, shaking chills, headache, body aches, cough, and tiredness.  If you haven’t ever contracted it, consider yourself lucky.

Here are five flu myths you might have heard about the flu that we will clear up for you.

Myth: You can catch the flu from the vaccine

Fact:  This is false

The vaccine contains a dead virus and cannot transmit infection. If you get sick around the time you got it, you were probably already going to get sick from exposure to the virus by an infected person.  In addition, it takes about two weeks for your body to build up the antibodies needed to fight the flu.

Myth: Vomiting and diarrhea are symptoms of Influenza.

Fact:  Influenza is strictly a respiratory illness.

Stomach flu or gastroenteritis is a completely different and separate virus. With stomach flu, you would experience vomiting and/or diarrhea in addition to stomach pain.

Myth:The vaccine is the only ammunition you need to fight the flu.

Fact:  In addition to the vaccine, you should wash your hands frequently, cough into your elbow, and drink lots of fluids.

Also, as with any illness, you will want to disinfect your surfaces such as phones, doorknobs, light switches, and remotes, as the germs can stay alive for up to 72 hours.

Myth: Young, healthy individuals cannot catch the flu.

Fact: Young and healthy individuals can catch the flu.

This group has a greater ability to fight complications of the flu, but it can still have an impact.  The 2014 flu season was particularly hard on this group of individuals.  Then, 61% of those hospitalized with influenza-like illnesses were adults aged 18-64.  In addition to reducing complications brought on by the flu, patients who are vaccinated also reduce the likelihood of transmission of the virus.

Myth: The flu vaccine causes Bell’s palsy.

Fact: No evidence has been found to support this.

One study from the Institute of Medicine reports that vaccines cause very few health problems.  “The findings should be reassuring to parents that few health problems are clearly connected to immunizations, and these effects occur relatively rarely.  The flu vaccine does not aggravate asthma, and the flu vaccine doesn’t cause Bell’s palsy,” explains Ellen Wright Clayton, MD, JD, director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University.

Everyone, male or female, young or old, healthy or sick, will benefit from receiving a flu vaccine.  Get yours today!


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