April 10, 2019

How to prepare for the season as a parent to an asthmatic child.

Image Credit: Kheng Guan Toh / Shutterstock

My daughter has had asthma almost her entire life and with asthma, she also has Rhinitis, sinusitis and a slew of food allergies. It gets in the way of her daily activities but she manages and has gotten used to reading labels. She is your average teenager who loves to hang out with her friends, works and loves to read. I have stated before that she and I have our own book blog which you can check out here. Every day she takes her Advair inhaler, a Zyrtec pill, Flonase nasal spray, and a Singulair pill. She also has rescue albuterol inhaler and we own about 3 nebulizers and let's not forget about her EpiPen. If she feels her chest tighten in the day, she'll use her peak flow meter to determine the amount of air she's getting. A peak flow meter determines how much air is breathed in and/or out and the rate at which the air is inhaled and expelled from the lungs. When she was younger I'd have to be the one to do this for her or I'd have to make sure that her teacher or daycare provider was on top of this. There are some days where she forgets and I can immediately tell because she feels her chest tighten and I can hear a little wheezing from her. I'll ask her if she took her medicine and she'll say "oh I forgot to take it!". It is very important to not skip a dose especially now since she'll be going off to college soon and she'll need to rely on herself to take her medications.  The seasons are changing and there are a lot of triggers.

Triggers are:
  • Allergens - mold, pollen, animals, dust mites
  • Irritants - cigarette smoke, air pollution
  • Weather - cold air, changes in weather
  • Exercise
  • Infections - flu, common cold
Many children that are diagnosed with asthma also have eczema. My daughter has had really bad eczema breakouts when she was little behind her ears, behind her knees, in the creases of her inner elbows, and her underarms to name a few. They were so bad that they were bloody and cracked. She would cry. Thank goodness this has gotten better. She has been prescribed a lotion that Lac-Hydrin (an ammonium Lactate Lotion, 12%). In the winter she is to only take a shower, no baths. This lotion needs to be applied after her shower. Now that she is older and a teenager she is at the acne stage. She doesn't get it that bad but she has the occasional breakout here and there and her eczema is under control. 

Just a few tips:
  • Know your eczema triggers. This can be lotions, makeup, waxing, body wash, etc.
  • Moisturize dry, itchy skin often. Aveeno and Lubriderm are great.
  • Manage extreme temperatures at home.
  • Don't scratch eczema patches. My daughter is a scratcher! I constantly have to tell her to stop.
  • Keep sweating to a minimum to avoid eczema flare-ups.
A misconception about asthma is that people think that it will go away. WRONG! Once you have been diagnosed, you will always have it! Yes indeed as a child grows, their airway anatomy grows as well and symptoms lessen. However, the underlying inflammation that occurs is always present and developing more severe chest colds and flu-like symptoms may be a direct result, even if wheezing and chest tightness are absent. Another common misconception is that asthma is all the same. In reality, there are four distinct classifications of asthma based on the frequency of symptoms. Based on the frequency of symptoms you are classified as having mild intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent or severe persistent asthma, with the milder versions being the most common. Consult with your doctor to determine which kind you have. And the last misconception about asthma is you only have to use your maintenance steroid inhaler following an asthmatic attack. People don't realize that steroids are meant to maintain an airway without inflammation, meaning that when you stop taking it the inflammation comes back. For people with moderate to severe persistent asthma, daily inhaled steroids are highly recommended even when you are feeling great and have few or no symptoms.

Prepare yourself and your child for the season changes. My daughter tends to do badly in the Spring and Summer. The pollen affects my daughter a lot in the Spring. The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is to grab my cell phone and check the weather to check the pollen count. In the Summer I check the humidity index. The humidity can make it hard to breathe for her. On days when It's really really humid, we tend to stay indoors in the central air. She has a rescue inhaler which I haven't talked about until now. She keeps one in her bookbag, I keep one in my car, I keep one in my purse, and my mother keeps one in her purse. In cases of emergencies where she has an attack, she takes her rescue inhaler which is an albuterol inhaler. She has a nebulizer machine at home and one at my parents' house just in case she needs a nebulizer treatment for when the rescue inhaler doesn't quite cut it. We have vials of Albuterol solution that go in the nebulizer that works as a mist and go into her lungs to loosen her bronchial tubes. sometimes she may need 2 treatments in a row to loosen it up so she can breathe. It's hard for us to take vacations because we don't have a traveling nebulizer. For years we have been going back and forth with the insurance company to be approved for one and we just haven't been able to get an approval yet. If we wanted to drive to the beach and she gets an attack and the rescue inhaler doesn't work, what are we to do? We'd just rather not risk it. It's a scary thought to even try to process. Traveling nebulizers run anywhere from $134 to $220. I'm still fighting with the insurance company to approve it. Let's see what I hear from them in the next few weeks.
Now that Spring is slowly approaching. We are not looking forward to long nights and loads of car washing fun! Washing your car can very expensive! So we wash our car outside in our driveway. We make it a family fun affair. I like to make sure the pollen is off the car and the kids rinse it off. If you are a parent of an asthmatic child, I would recommend washing your car as much as possible. It's expensive but it's worth it. And do not open your windows to let in that fresh breeze! Many do it. I simply do not! It lets in all of those bad allergens. You definitely do not want that floating around in your house when you have a child with asthma.

So let's round up what you'll need to prepare for the seasons!

Prepare for the Seasons:
  • Have your rescue inhaler with you at all times.
  • Remember to take your allergy medicine and daily inhalers.
  • Wash your car all the time to get rid of pollen. This can be expensive but it is worth it.
  • Wash your clothes the moment you come in the house from the outside.
  • Wash/Sanitize your hands as always.
  • Check the weather for humidity and pollen levels for the day.
  • Keep up with your scheduled appointments.

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