Breathe EZ Archives - Active Healthcare

Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month 2019

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

World Asthma Day - Stop for AsthmaEach May we celebrate Asthma and Allergy Awareness month. Additionally, the first Tuesday of May is also designated as World Asthma Day. This year it falls on Tuesday May 7.

The theme for this year’s World Asthma Day is ‘Stop for Asthma’. Each year the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) suggests activities to support asthma awareness in our communities.

Over 6 million children, and 26 million people total live with asthma in the United States.

We see the impact of asthma in missed days of school and increased emergency room visits due to out of control symptoms. Additionally sufferers often experience increased complications during respiratory illnesses like cold and flu.

Constant evaluation and adjustment of treatment protocols is the key to controlling asthma. Since there is no cure for asthma the goal is management of symptoms to improve quality of life.

Visit the CDC website for helpful resources for people with asthma, their friends and families, teachers, and coaches. Resources include tips for creating and updating your asthma action plan and how to use your inhaler. Check out the Meet the Challenge page for recommendations on asthma and physical activity.


Active Healthcare Donates Nebulizers

Active Healthcare Nebulizer Donation to WCPSSActive Healthcare recently donated a significant number of nebulizers to the Wake County Public School System. The nebulizers will be used in elementary schools by school nurses to help students manage their asthma.

Active Healthcare’s Back 2 Life Program works with local medical practices and community partners in the Triangle area of North Carolina to help facilitate various medical equipment supplies to needy patients.

We collect and refurbish the donated equipment. Visit our website donate nebulizer equipment you no longer need.

Additional Resources

World Asthma Day is an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to improve asthma awareness and care around the world. A staggering 300 million people worldwide live with asthma.

World Asthma Day - Stop for Asthma

Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) – sponsor of World Asthma Day

The CDC website has tons of resources for people with asthma and their families.

Test your asthma knowledge for Asthma and Allergy Awareness month: 7 Asthma Myths


New OTC Primatene Mist Approved By FDA

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

Should you consider using it as part of your Asthma Treatment Plan?

Primatene Mist ® was removed from the market back in 2011 due to the propellant used in the inhaler medication. Late last year the FDA approved a new over-the-counter version of the drug, which is now widely available. This new version uses the same active ingredient but does not contain CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) which are known to deplete ozone in our atmosphere.

Asthma Experts Urge Caution

A number of asthma organizations have voiced strong concerns over the new Primatene Mist inhaler since it creates the impression that the management and treatment of asthma is a do-it-yourself proposition. Asthma is a chronic condition that requires ongoing management with your healthcare provider – whether it is mild, moderate or severe.

As a chilling reminder: 10 people die every day from asthma related complications

The active ingredient in Primatene mist is racemic epinephrine. This medication is not a recommended asthma treatment and can also give a false sense of control by masking asthma symptoms.

Lack of control and the often associated over use of quick-relief medications leads to respiratory complications and sometimes death in people with asthma. Experts worry that this new over-the-counter medication option will only escalate that scenario. Out of control symptoms followed by over use of a medication that masks symptoms can in turn lead to life-threatening complications.

FDA Approval and Recommendations

Asthma Rescue InhalerFDA officials approved the new medication in hopes of providing another cost effective treatment option, especially to patients with mild asthma. The active ingredient in the medication is the same, just a new propellant to allow it to be administered via a metered dose inhaler and with new administration instructions.

The FDA has only approved the medication in patients over 12 years of age. They caution that the medication should only be used by those already diagnosed with asthma, and not to treat symptoms such as wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath that may be related to other conditions.

The Manufacturer Weighs In

Amphastar, the manufacturer of Primatene Mist, indicates the over-the-counter medication is to be used for “temporary relief of mild symptoms of intermittent asthma” on their product website.

A Plan for Asthma Control

Remember to always check with your healthcare provider before making a change to your or your child’s asthma treatment regime and asthma action plan. Check out these additional resources for more information about this new medication, tools to navigate treatment options and a refresher on understanding asthma control.

Additional Resources

FDA – Safely Using the Newly Available OTC Asthma Inhaler Primatene Mist

Shared Decision Making Tool developed by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), and the Allergy and Asthma Network

Asthma Statistics and Understanding Asthma control


Hidden Spots for Germs: Home, Office and Doctor’s Office

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ 1 , , ,

The winter season is peak time for cold and flu. Getting vaccinated against the flu is always a good idea but remember that germs are sneaky and can lurk in the most unlikely places.

Bacteria and viruses are spread by both direct and in-direct contact. A sick person can sneeze or cough near you. You might touch something that has been contaminated by a sick person who has passed by before you.

Remember that people with asthma can often be more susceptible to any respiratory illness. Small children are still working to build their immune systems. When they catch a cold or virus from other kids or pick up germs in their environment, they get sick and share the illness with their family members.

Germs in Your Office

Pens - clipboardsYour desk is ground zero for germs in the office. Recent studies showed that your desk can have 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. These unfriendly office visitors can survive up to three days on these surfaces. Everyone should disinfect their desk work surfaces including the keyboard, mouse and phone on a regular basis, but during cold and flu season it is even more important.

Don’t forget about shared work spaces like the break room, copy machines and shared workstations. At our office, we encourage those who are sick to stay home. Fellow team members have been known to swoop in to wipe down the desks and work areas of their contagious colleagues to keep the sickness from spreading.

Germs in Your Home

germs, cleaningThe dirtiest parts of your home include the kitchen sink and drain, along with the sponges and dish rags you use to wipe the counter or wash dishes.

Any location where water is present is highly susceptible to bacterial accumulation. Again, if someone at home is sick, you’ll have to step up your disinfecting efforts.

Germs at the Doctor’s Office

Many pediatricians’ offices separate ‘well’ and ‘sick’ children in different waiting areas. This can be a great way to avoid others who are coughing and sneezing if you are well. Since the same doctors and staff are caring for both sets of patients, here are a few ways to avoid germ magnets at your MD office.

Bring your own pens and reading materials. Test swabs show that those waiting room clipboard pens are far dirtier than door handles and waiting rooms chairs.

Don’t be afraid to ask the staff to wash their hands, especially after touching hand held devices and stethoscopes, and before touching you.

Bottom line, wash your hands frequently, avoid contact with people that are obviously sick, and schedule frequent cleanings around your home and office. As a favor to everyone one else, if you’re sick, stay home and rest rather than spread the contagion.

Additional Resources:

CDC Flu Information

Cold weather Tips for Asthma Sufferers

Five Flu Myths Debunked


Time To Rake the Leaves – Fall Allergy Season

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ 1 , , , ,

Many of you may think that the springtime is the worst season for allergy sufferers. Everyone has different triggers, so the fall can also be troublesome for those with allergies and asthma. During the fall we enjoy beautiful scenery as the leaves change from green to brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange. As the season progresses, all those colorful leaves fall, becoming an allergy trigger of their own.

Fall Allergy Triggers: Pollen and Mold Spores

Although each allergy sufferer has different triggers, many people are allergic to plants that produce pollen in the fall season, such as ragweed. Another common fall allergen is mold spores. Remember all those beautiful fall leaves? Once they fall and linger on your lawn they get rained on – creating a perfect environment for the growth of mold spores.

Fall Leaves

When you rake all those leaves into a big pile – maybe for the neighborhood kids to jump into or to compost or bag up for pickup, all those mold spores are released back into the air.

Once exposed, your body reacts to the triggers and you’ll likely have a runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes and an irritated nose and throat. Doesn’t that sound like fun!

Outdoor Yardwork Tips: Protect Yourself Before and After

Since you can’t escape the yard work, if you suffer from allergies you can take these steps to minimize your symptoms this fall.

  • Wear a filter mask, especially when raking leaves
  • Rake often giving less time for mold spores to develop
  • Choose long sleeves and wear gloves to minimize exposure to your skin
  • Avoid touching your nose and eyes during yardwork
  • Choose early morning and evening times for yardwork when pollen counts are lowest

Once your yardwork is complete remember to leave your shoes at the door and change your clothing to limit tracking allergens into your home. Shower as soon as possible as allergens will linger on your skin and hair.

Even if you are not doing yardwork, just going outside can trigger an allergy attack. Remember it is best to stay inside when you hear one of your neighbors firing up their leaf blowers!

Allergy Medications Can Help

You can also work with your healthcare provider to choose the best over the counter and/or prescription medications to manage your seasonal symptoms. Some medications need to be taken in advance of the season for maximum effect. Consider adding nasal saline irrigation on a regular basis during the fall months to clear mucous and allergens from your system.

Additional Resources:

House Plants and Allergens

Holiday Planning For Those With Asthma and Allergies

Climate Changes and Outdoor Allergies


Asthma Sufferers – Plan for Fun at the NC State Fair

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

Are you excited about the North Carolina State Fair?

Here are some pointers to help you enjoy all the fair has to offer, even if you have asthma.

October is Not Too Early for Flu Shots

The flu causes inflammation and narrowing of your airways which can in turn trigger an asthma flare-up.

People with asthma should always get their yearly flu shot to both avoid catching the flu and suffering its complications that can trigger asthma attacks.

Sheep and Rabbits and Ponies Oh My!

State FairOne of the favorite kid friendly attractions at the fair is the petting zoo. Take the proper steps to protect yourself when visiting all of the adorable baby animals. Close contact with animals can trigger an asthma attack because you may come in contact with proteins that are found in animal saliva, skin flakes, urine and feces.

Animal fur collects pollen, mold and other outdoor allergens that can be another trigger of your asthma symptoms. Remind your family members to wash their hands after visiting the petting zoo. Do not touch your eyes or any part of your face until you wash your hands!

Navigating Fair Food: Be Aware of Food Allergies

Each year the food vendors at the North Carolina State Fair come up with new and existing food offerings. In 2017 a few of the special treats on the menu were Deep Fried Key Lime Bites, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Corn on the Cob, and the Blue Hawaii Funnel Cake. If you are unsure about what you are ordering, ask for an ingredients list. Those with severe food allergies may want to skip the fair food altogether and pack their own snacks. Always remember to keep food allergy medication on hand.

Watch for Exposure to Second Hand Smoke

Big crowds at outdoor venues can mean increased exposure to second hand smoke. If you are exposed to second hand smoke it is best to try to remove yourself from the area. Smoke will irate your airways and can cause them to swell and narrow. Secondhand smoke is harmful to children and adults with asthma and is a common trigger.

Travel with an extra inhaler and asthma medications. Everyone can enjoy their day out at the fair when they are prepared to manage asthma flare-ups.

Now that you’re prepared, what are you looking forward to seeing at the fair this year? Share this post with family and friends.

Additional Resources:

North Carolina State Fair Website
Best and Worst Foods for Asthmatics
Five Flu Myths Debunked


E-Cigarettes: Continued Health Threat for Youth

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

Juul e-cigarette

Kids are now facing a new threat that is taking over high schools and middle schools across the United States – a new type of E-cigarette called Juul. Many parents may lack information on how E-cigarettes are spreading throughout their children’s schools and in their own neighborhoods.

Some teens and young adults find the E-cigarette Juul attractive because of its sleek design. The device can be easily charged on a laptop and go unnoticed by parents and teachers. Teens are drawn to Juul for a number of reasons, like its trendy decal skins, and the multiple flavors.

Studies have shown that most teens and young adults do not know that they are smoking nicotine, they think they are smoking water vapor when they are using Juul. Since nicotine is the prime ingredient in these devices, parents and school administrators are concerned.

Not only can nicotine be extremely addictive but it can be very harmful to teens and young adults in many ways such as:

  • Memory loss and attention loss for a developing teenage brain
  • Also increased risk for future addiction to other drug

Schools Educate about the Dangers of Juul E-Cigarettes

Parents and school administrators should worry about the long term effects of students using Juul or any other E-cigarettes.

Schools are trying their best to prevent usage of E-cigarettes on school grounds. Some schools have even installed detectors that scan the air for chemical changes and alert an administrator. Schools are also holding classes to review the dangers of using Juul with their students. They are also holding workshops to educate teachers and support staff on what a Juul is and how it works.

For more information about E-Cigarettes, the Juul device and the effects of using it check out the website www.tobaccofreekids.org

Additional Resources:

The Double Threat of Vaping

More information on E-Cigarette usage among youth from the Surgeon General

Image of Juul e-cigarette: By Mylesclark96 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons


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


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