Tag Archives: asthma kids

Best Sports for Asthma

Athletic with Asthma

You can’t keep your kids with asthma from being active, but you can help them choose the right activities.

While football can be a rough sport, it is actually one of the best sports for those with asthma. The many breaks between downs let you rest and can reduce the chances of an attack.

Former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis is one of the greatest running backs of all time. He was diagnosed with asthma at 15, after passing out at a high school football practice. He went on to play for the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame, then in the NFL for 13 seasons. He was named NFL Rookie of the Year and won a Super Bowl in 2006.

A recent study found that walking 3 times a week for 3 weeks improved asthma control, and overall fitness.

Yoga is great for asthma because it requires good breath control. One study found that some who did yoga 2.5 hour a week for 10 weeks could cut down on their meds.

Baseball’s spurts of running with plenty of down time gives kids exercise without raising their breathing rate for too long, making it great for asthma sufferers.

Golf, with its delayed activity, is good if you struggle catching your breath, and the focus it requires is great for your mind. Just beware of outdoor allergens!

Tennis and other racquet sports let you exercise with regular rests and water breaks.

Swimming is the ideal activity for those with asthma because you breathe in warm wet air the whole time, and being horizontal can help loosen and clear your lungs.

As a kid, Amy Van Dyken’s couldn’t even climb a flight of stairs because her asthma was so bad. At just 6 years old, she took up swimming when her doctor told her breathing humid air might help her lungs. Swimming was hard at first, but with the help of her meds and support from her family and friends, Amy swam her way to 4 gold medals at the Athens Olympics and another 2 at Sydney’s.

The important thing to remember though is that your asthma should never hold you back from going after your dreams.

Look at Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who broke into track-and-field star, even though she had asthma. She is a four-time Olympian with 3 gold medals. She was diagnosed as a freshman at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA). In an interview with Sports Illustrated, she said, “I finally learned I had to respect asthma as much as I would an opponent.”

Knowing your triggers, using your meds and action plan, and working with your doctor can make amazing things possible.

Air Quality Index

Keeping Track of Air Quality

Just like a stoplight tells you when to go, the Air Quality Index (AQI) tells you when it’s safe to go outside and how clean the air is to breathe.

Across America, the AQI tracks smog, pollution from cars, soil dust, pollen, and ash. Every day, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) gives the air quality a color.

Green is the best, and as it goes from green to yellow to orange, the air gets less clean.

Poor air quality is a threat to everyone’s health, but children, the elderly, and those with breathing problems need to be even more careful. The worse the air, the more likely it will trigger an asthma flare-up.

Green is when it’s perfect to play outside, but as it changes colors, slow down or maybe even stay in.

AQI Color

AQI Status

Advice

Green

Good

Enjoy the outdoors.

Yellow

Moderate

Enjoy the outdoors, but maybe limit how long you’re outside.

Orange

Unhealthy for elderly, kids, and those with breathing problems

Take it easy, and if you’re at risk, think about staying inside.

Red

Unhealthy

Stay inside.

Purple

Very unhealthy

Stay inside.

Maroon

Hazardous

Definitely stay inside.

 

Before you head out, you can check the day’s color at AirNow, and protect yourself from the start.

Your Pets and Asthma

Your Pets Breathing

You’re not the only one who sometimes has trouble breathing, your pets do too. Cats, dogs, and even horses can have a hard time catching their breath.

It might sound strange, but their triggers and symptoms look a lot like yours:

Pets Triggers

  • Smoke
  • Cleaning products
  • Dust (in the house, litter, or barn)
  • Trees, grass, and mold

Pets Flare-ups

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Panting

62% of American households have pets. 95.6 million people own cats, and 83.3 million have dogs. And just like you, staying away from triggers and taking meds can help control animals’ breathing problems.

“We manage your pet’s triggers and use all the same human drugs to treat them, and that really helps,” says Dr. Brendan McKiernan, a board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist and University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital director. He’s practiced for more than 40 years and is known around the world for his work on cats’ and dogs’ breathing diseases.

If you notice your cat or dog is having trouble breathing, and it’s more than the occasional hairball, take your pet to the vet. If it’s serious, take them right away.

Even though you have things in common, don’t ever share your meds with your pets. Even though their troubles might look like yours, Dr. McKiernan says, “You have to be careful. It’s like a little 10-pound baby.” You can really hurt pets with too much medicine which could make them much sicker.

Managing Allergies with Tech

Managing Allergies & Asthma with Technology

Tracking the weather and your allergies can be an important part of managing allergies and asthma. Avoid living in a bubble with these helpful phone apps that make staying in touch with Mother Nature easy and fun.

Managing Allergies with Apps

WebMD Allergy

This allergy app is like having a meteorologist in your pocket. It gives you daily weather and pollen forecasts, tells you what allergens are in the air, and can even notify you when allergens reach a certain level. This free app is only for iPhones.

Allergy Alert

Not only can you check your local forecast and your area’s pollen levels, you can also track your symptoms over time to see how they change. Then you can get tips for managing your allergies. This app is free for Android and Apple users.

Managing Allergies & Asthma with Apps

RxmindMe Prescription

Life is busy. With a crazy day-to-day schedule, how in the world can you keep track of all your meds? RxmindMe offers friendly reminders of what meds to take, and you can even snap pictures of your pills to prevent mix-ups. It also lets you create reminders for weekly appointments and refills, so you never miss your doctor or a dose again. This free app is only for iPhones.

Controlling Asthma with Diet

Balancing and Controlling Asthma with Your Lifestyle

Controlling Asthma through Lifestyle

There is no way to magically cure your asthma, but eating a smart and healthy diet and keeping a healthy lifestyle can make a huge difference in controlling asthma.

The number of people with asthma has risen in the past 3 decades, and many wonder if it’s because of our changing diet without enough fruits and veggies.

Several studies have explored this connection. One found that teens with poor nutrition were more likely to have asthma.

And while nutrition is likely not the cause of asthma, it can be the cause of obesity. Being overweight makes you more likely to have severe asthma symptoms, take more meds, and miss more work.

Changes for Controlling Asthma

Eat lots of fruits and veggies.

Packed with antioxidants like beta carotene and vitamins C and E, fruits and veggies help with lung problems. Try controlling your asthma by adding more of these to your diet:

  • Apples, which have been tied to lower rates of asthma, possibly because of something in them called flavonoids that have been shown to open airways.
  • Cantaloupe, which is high in Vitamin C.
  • Carrots, which have a lot of beta carotene, can help reduce attacks caused by exercise.
  • Coffee, the caffeine in it can help open airways slightly for a few hours after drinking it.
  • Flax seeds, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium which can relax your muscles, which can help open airways.
  • Garlic, which has long been used as a treatment for many things because it’s thought to be anti-inflammatory.
  • Avocados, which is a healthy antioxidant called glutathione.

Add more vitamin D.

Studies find that people with severe asthma have low levels of vitamin D. Work on controlling your asthma by adding more foods with plenty of vitamin D to your meals, like milk, eggs, and salmon.

Avoid trans fats.

Trans fats, found in many processed foods like margarine, can make your asthma worse and have been linked to other serious health conditions, like heart disease.

Look for sulfites.

Sulfites are a preservative that keeps foods like wine, dried fruits, pickles, and fresh and frozen shrimp good for longer. They give off sulfur dioxide which can irritate your lungs, and research has tied it to asthma flare-ups in some people.

This doesn’t mean you have to cut these from your diet. Just watch for a reaction for about an hour after you eat them.

Stay away from allergy-triggering foods.

Asthma puts you at a bigger risk for food allergies, and you can develop them late in life.

After you eat common allergy-triggering foods like nuts, soy, eggs, and dairy, keep an eye out for common allergy reactions:

  • Burning, teary, itchy, red, or swollen eyes
  • Coughing, wheezing, or a tight chest
  • Headache
  • Hives or skin rashes
  • Itchy nose, throat, or mouth
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing

Avoid foods that trigger Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD).

Up to 70% of people who have asthma, also have GERD, which is stomach acid reflux. GERD can make asthma symptoms worse.

While it can cause normal heartburn symptoms, it doesn’t always. You may need to take medicine or lose weight to manage GERD. But sometimes just eating smaller meals, cutting back on alcohol and caffeine, and avoiding eating before bed can help. You can also avoid foods that you know cause these problems for you.

Lose weight.

While losing weight isn’t easy, it can help your asthma. Eat a healthy and balanced diet and stay active. Make sure you talk to your doctor about how best to manage your asthma or use your meds so that you can exercise without causing attacks.

Asthma Treatment

Know Your Asthma

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a long-term disease where your airways become inflamed and narrow, making it harder to breathe. This can cause chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.

It’s affects all ages, but is usually diagnosed in kids. More than 25 million people have it.

Your airways are tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. When the airways react to an allergen, the muscles around them tighten, which limits the air getting into the lungs.

Cells in the airways can also make more mucus in this situation, which further makes it hard to breathe.

And once this has all happened, it’s easy for things like stress or activity to make it even worse. Asthma’s symptoms are in many ways, a chain reaction.

There is no cure for asthma, but there are great forms of treatment, including meds, nebulizers, and inhalers. These let you prevent and treat attacks right away to prevent a more serious attack, which can require emergency care.

Your Asthma

Everyone’s is a little different. Many things create the recipe, or chain reaction, for your asthma. Your age, triggers, allergens in your environment, weight, overall health, where you live, and which meds you’re taking can all matter.

Common Triggers

  • Acid Reflux
  • Allergies
  • Bad Weather
  • Certain Foods
  • Certain Medicines
  • Cold or Dry Air
  • Exercise
  • Food Additives
  • Fragrances
  • High Humidity
  • Infections from Flu, Cold, or Virus
  • Pets
  • Strong Emotions or Stress

Common Allergens

  • Chemicals
  • Cockroach Allergens
  • Dust Mites
  • Mold
  • Outdoor Air Pollution
  • Smoke from Burning Outdoors
  • Tobacco Smoke

Your allergies especially affect your asthma. Your runny nose, sniffling, and sneezing can actually start that chain reaction. And by treating them, you can actually improve your asthma.

Treatment

Everyone with asthma should have an Asthma Action Plan that they make with their doctor. It’s a personalized plan that has:

  • The kinds of medicine you’ll take
  • When you’ll take it
  • How you’ll manage it long-term
  • How you should handle attacks
  • How you’ll manage your allergies
  • When you should go to your doctor or the ER

Even though each person will have a different set of things that cause their symptoms, asthma medicine categories are the same for everyone.

Combinations and doses vary, but most people with asthma have 2 kinds of meds, a quick-relief one in case of a flare-up and a long-term controller they take daily.

Types of Meds

Medicine Category

What It Does

Examples

Long-Term Control

This is your most important med. When taken daily, these help control symptoms and prevent attacks. Skipping doses raises your risk of attack.
  • Inhaled Corticosteroids
  • Leukotriene Modifiers
  • Long-Acting Beta-Agonists (LABAs)
  • A Combination Inhaler with a Corticosteroid and an LABA

Quick-Relief or Rescue Meds

Take these as needed to quickly treat an attack and to prevent attacks from exercise. If you’re using these more than 2x a week, tell your doctor. Short-Acting Beta-Agonists:

  • Albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin)
  • Metaproterenol (Alupent, Metaprel)
  • Pirbuterol (Maxair)
  • Bitolterol (Tornalate)
  • Levalbuterol (Xopenex)

Oral Steroids:

  • Prednisone
  • Prednisolone
  • Methylprednisolone

Allergy-Induced Asthma

Take these daily or as needed to control allergies, like pollen, mold, grass, etc.
  • Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy)
  • Omalizumab (Xolair)

Info via National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Your Action Plan

Make sure you have the answers to these important questions in your action plan:

  • What are the names of my medicines?
  • What does each one do?
  • What are their side effects?
  • What can I do to decrease their side effects?
  • Will they work with other drugs, vitamins, food, and drinks?
  • How much is a dose of each?
  • When is the best time to take each? With breakfast, before bed, or with symptoms?
  • How long do I have to take them?

Things You Can Do

You should also work with your doctor or our disease management program to make sure you know how to use your inhaler and flow meter.

Keeping track of your triggers and taking care of yourself can also help:

Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

Vacations are always exciting and relaxing, unless you aren’t prepared for traveling with asthma and allergies.

Don’t let them stand in your family’s way. By carefully getting ready ahead of time, you can make sure you have smooth travels.

Preparing for Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

Having a great trip starts when you’re planning. When you’re looking at destinations and hotels for your family, you may want to find a PURE hotel room. Hotels across the country are adding these hypoallergenic rooms.

From installing air purifiers to ripping out dust-filled carpets and drapes, these rooms have been overhauled to be allergy-friendly. You may pay a little extra (about $20 more), but by getting rid of allergens and surprise asthma flare-ups, a PURE room can make your trip an easy one.

And don’t forget to make sure you have enough of current prescriptions ahead of time. With some things, you can stock up in advance. For others, you may have to take your prescription with you and get it filled on the road. Make sure you also know which pharmacies your plan covers before getting a prescription filled there.

Keep a document that lists all of the medicines and supplies you’re traveling with. Not only can it help you pack before leaving home or the hotel, but you can also show it to security agents at airports to help them check your supplies quickly.

Packing for Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

According to the TSA, you can pack your meds or nebulizer in your carry-on for your flight.

It’s important to pack both your quick-relief and controller meds in your carry-on so that you can treat or prevent an attack on the flight. Plus, if your checked bag gets lost, at least your asthma’s still taken care of.

Keep medications in their original containers, and keep them in a separate, clear plastic bag. This makes it easy for security to check what kind of meds you have and that they’re yours.

Pack copies of your Asthma Action Plan which has important info about your asthma that can help those traveling with you and the people you visit if something should happen.

Use your list to make sure you’ve packed everything you need to take care of your asthma.

Take your Health Alliance member ID card in case you need to visit a doctor while you’re out of town.

If you aren’t getting a PURE room, pack your own bedding, like any special pillows, sheets, or bed covers.

If your kids are traveling without you, it’s important to both help them pack their meds, and to make sure they have their emergency plan and important numbers, like your phone number, handy when traveling.

Traveling with Asthma and Allergies

Once you’re at the airport, the key to a smooth flight is communication.

Make sure you tell the security officers you are traveling with asthma meds or a nebulizer, which they will have you take out of your case.

Use a phone, an app, or a watch that can stay on your home time zone, so you can keep track of when you should be taking medicine on your normal schedule. It’s easy to get distracted on vacation, so alarms are also an easy way to remind yourself at the right time.

Once you’re on your flight, if you feel sick and need help, a drink, or to get your carry-on quickly, it can help if you let your flight attendant know what’s happening. They can help you better and faster if they know it’s important for your asthma.

When you’re driving, fresh air sounds like a great idea, but you never know what allergens are in it. Drive with the windows up and the air on to keep triggers out. And, keep your meds close, not in the trunk!

After Arriving

Once you’ve made it to your hotel, it’s a good idea to make sure your supplies are still organized after traveling. You should also make sure your room is clean, and change your bedding if you brought it with you.

Try to plan activities that won’t stress your asthma or put you in contact with too many allergens, and make sure you’re ready to carry your inhaler, just in case.

And don’t forget to take time to relax and refuel for a vacation to remember!