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Breathing Exercise: Pursed Lip Breathing »

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Sometimes when your child with asthma is playing hard they probably get out of breath. And when they are having an asthma attack, your child might get scared or nervous. Being short of breath can feel scary. It helps if you and your child know what to do.

These are good times to use breathing exercises to help your child relax.

Here’s how to get started:

1.)    Sit down and rest. Have your child sit down in a chair, if one is near.    Have them lean on the chair back or forward with their elbows on their knees—whichever feels best to them. If a chair isn’t available, have your child sit on the ground or floor.

2.)    Breathe in slowly through your nose. As your child breathes in, count 1, 2, 3…..counting will help you and your child to remember to breathe out twice as long as they breathe in.

3.)    Purse your lips as if you were going to whistle. Have your child breathe out gently through pursed lips. Keep counting to yourself 1, 2, 3, 4, 5….as your child breathes out (have them breathe out twice as slowly as they breathed in). The air should escape naturally – your child should not force the air out of their lungs

4.)    Keep doing pursed lip breathing until you’re no longer short of breath. It may take a few minutes for your child to feel the effects of pursed lip breathing.

REMEMBER: Get help if your child is having trouble breathing!

 

Things to do for your child’s Asthma as you prepare for spring »

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The start of spring weather, and additional pollen, can bring on some seasonal allergies that could flare up your asthma. Some asthmatics are sensitive to this change which can cause sneezing, water eyes or an itchy throat.

Here are some things that can help you this the season to minimize problems:.

Have a  spring cleaning day to get rid of all the dust and dust mites on the furniture.

- If possible purchase a dust mite free pillow case covering and mattress pad.

- Also make sure that the sheets are wash sheets frequently to kill dust mites.

- You also want to make sure that you vacuum as often as possible at least weekly

- Frequently, and change air conditioning filters.

- Also be prepared to start using your allergy medications and also have your quick-reliever medication, ( Albuterol. Pro-Air, Xopenex on hand as a precaution.

- In the morning pollen counts are known to be high and windy days. Spring time can be tough for asthma patients with allergies, but if you follow these simple rules spring should be a breeze for you. If you should have any problems please contact your physician or allergist.

 

What is a Peak Flow Meter and how it can help you »

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A peak flow meter is small device that measures how well air moves in and out of your lungs. When asthma episodes begin, the tiny airways of the lungs narrow slowly. A drop in your peak flow meter number may tell you if the air tubes are narrowing hours or days before you start to cough or wheeze. This can let you know that you may need to take your bronchodilator. By taking medicines early (before other warning signs start), you may be able to stop the asthma episode quickly and prevent a severe asthma attack.

HOW DO I USE A PEAK FLOW METER?

1. Stand up.

2. Remove any food or gum from your mouth.

3. Slide the marker to the bottom of the scale.

4. Take a slow, deep breath and blow into the peak flow

meter as hard and as fast as you can, like blowing out

a candle. Be sure to have a good seal so you can get a

good reading.

5. Repeat two more times.

Peak Flow Meter

Chart the best of three tries on your Asthma Diary. To estabalish a baseline use the peak flow meter morning and night for 2 to 3 weeks.  Keeping this diary will give you and your doctor good information as to how well your asthma is doing. It can help your doctor decide if the medicines prescribed are working and if your asthma is under control.

HOW DO I KNOW WHAT MY PEAK FLOW NUMBERS MEAN?

Your doctor will help you write down your personal numbers for the “Green”, “Yellow” and “Red” zones in your Asthma Action Plan. You should use your peak flow meter everyday to chart your breathing score in your Asthma Diary. This will help you determine if you need to take any of your quick–relief medication for prevention or call your doctor with concerns.

HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF MY PEAK FLOW METER?

• Keep it away from small children and pets

• Wash weekly in a clean basin with warm tap water and mild liquid dishwashing soap:

 Place all parts of the meter with warm tap water and mild liquid dishwashing soap:

 Shake off excess water

Allow to air dry

Asthma: Managing Winter Triggers »

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It’s that time of year again, the cold weather outside keeps us indoors more. Cold, dry air outside may cause airways to constrict or tighten, making breathing more difficult for asthmatics. Indoor triggers such as dust, smoke, and pet dander can also worsen asthma symptoms. With triggers outside and indoors, it is more important than ever to keep your child’s asthma under control and to have a written Asthma Action Plan. If you do not have a written asthma action plan, please discuss this with your child’s doctor as soon as possible.

Winter is the season for colds and influenza. Viral infections and cold air can trigger asthma attacks. To manage asthma triggers during the winter months, make sure that your child wears a scarf around their mouth and breathe through their nose as much as possible when outdoors. Nose breathing warms and humidifies the air going to the lungs and decreases the chance for cold, dry air to trigger an asthma attack.

Your child should not be exposed to others that have a cold or flu like symptoms. To reduce the spread of disease, teach your child to keep their hands away from their eyes, nose and mouth. Also encourage them to wash their hands after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing and before preparing food and eating.

Ensure that your child is not exposed to smoke from tobacco, fireplaces, and wood stoves as they can trigger an asthma attack.

Ask your pediatrician about the influenza vaccine, and make sure your child takes their asthma medications as prescribed by their physician. It is especially important that you communicate with your child’s physician if they have asthma symptoms that are persistent or severe.

 

Breathing Exercise: Pursed Lip Breathing »

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Sometimes when your child with asthma is playing hard they probably get out of breath. And when they are having an asthma attack, your child might get scared or nervous. Being short of breath can feel scary. It helps if you and your child know what to do.

These are good times to use breathing exercises to help your child relax.

Here’s how to get started:

1.) Sit down and rest. Have your child sit down in a chair, if one is near. Have  them lean on the chair back or forward with their elbows on their knees—whichever feels best to them. If a chair isn’t available, have your child sit on the ground or floor.

2.) Breathe in slowly through your nose. As your child breathes in, count 1, 2, 3…..counting will help you and your child to remember to breathe out twice as long as they breathe in.

3.) Purse your lips as if you were going to whistle. Have your child breathe out gently through pursed lips. Keep counting to yourself 1, 2, 3, 4, 5….as your child breathes out (have them breathe out twice as slowly as they breathed in). The air should escape naturally – your child should not force the air out of their lungs

4.) Keep doing pursed lip breathing until you’re no longer short of breath. It may take a few minutes for your child to feel the effects of pursed lip breathing.

REMEMBER: Get help if your child is having trouble breathing!

 

Common Questions: Asthma and Exercise »

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I travel from school to school educating students, faculty and parents on all things asthma and I answer many questions related to this chronic childhood disease but the question of “can my child exercise or play sports with asthma” is a very common concern and I believe this article from Nemours website www.kidshealth.org addresses all aspects of this question in a clear and concise manner.

Carey Smith, RRT

 

Exercise-Induced Asthma

Up to 80% of kids with asthma have symptoms when they exercise. It makes sense that cigarette smoke and pollen could trigger asthma symptoms, but why exercise?

Cold, dry air that’s inhaled during exercise is believed to be the main cause of these symptoms. When kids exercise or play strenuously, they tend to breathe quickly, shallowly, and through the mouth. So the air reaching their lungs misses the warming and humidifying effects that happen when they breathe more slowly through the nose.

The cool, dry air causes the airways in the lungs to become narrower, which blocks the flow of air and makes it harder to breathe. This narrowing, called bronchoconstriction, occurs in up to 20% of people who don’t have asthma, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as “exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB)” rather than “exercise-induced asthma (EIA).”

Symptoms

Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma include wheezing, tightness or pain in the chest, coughing, and in some cases, prolonged shortness of breath. Some symptoms are more noticeable than others, which means exercise-induced asthma can sometimes go undiagnosed.

Someone may have exercise-induced asthma if he or she:

  • gets winded or tired easily during or after exercise
  • coughs after coming inside from being active outdoors
  • can’t run for more than a few minutes without stopping

Kids with exercise-induced asthma often begin having symptoms 5 to 10 minutes after starting to exercise. Symptoms usually peak 5 to 10 minutes after stopping the activity and may take an hour or longer to end. Some people with EIA even have symptoms for hours after exercise. Although symptoms often appear while kids are active, sometimes they can appear only after the activity has stopped.

Of course, there’s a difference between someone with exercise-induced asthma and someone who’s out of shape and is simply winded. Out-of-shape people can catch their breath within minutes, whereas it takes much longer for someone with EIA to recover. And extremes of temperature, especially cold weather, can make it even worse.

Diagnosing EIA

A doctor who suspects exercise-induced asthma will ask about the family’s asthma and allergy history and about the symptoms and what has triggered them in the past.

After taking a detailed history and performing a physical exam, the doctor may ask your child to perform a breathing test after exercising. This can be done in the office on a treadmill, after your child has run outside for 6 to 8 minutes, or after participating in whatever activity has triggered flare-ups in the past.

Treating EIA

Doctors sometimes recommend pretreatment, which means taking medication before exercise or strenuous activity, for kids with exercise-induced asthma. This medication is often the same fast-acting, short-term medication used during flare-ups, known as rescue medication, although in this case its function is preventative. By taking this medication before exercise, the airway narrowing triggered by exercise can be prevented.

If pretreatment isn’t enough to control symptoms, the doctor may recommend that someone also use controller medication, which is usually taken regularly over time to reduce airway inflammation.

If, despite medication, your child still has breathing trouble during exercise, let the doctor know. The medication dosages may need to be adjusted for better control. Also, contact the doctor if there are any changes with your child’s breathing problems.

Tips for Kids With Exercise-Induced Asthma

For the most part, kids with exercise-induced asthma can do anything their peers can do. But be sure to follow the suggestions given by your child’s doctor.

Here are some of the tips often recommended:

  • Warm up before exercise to prevent chest tightening. (Warm-up exercises can include 5 to 10 minutes of walking or any other light activity, in addition to stretching or flexibility exercises.)
  • Take rescue medication as close to the start of exercise as possible.
  • Breathe through the nose during exercise.
  • Take brief rests during exercise and use rescue medication, as prescribed, if symptoms start.
  • Cool down after exercise to help slow the change of air temperature in the lungs.

In addition, someone experiencing symptoms shouldn’t start exercising until the symptoms stop.

It’s also wise for kids with EIA to avoid exercising outside during very cold weather. If your child will be playing outside when it’s cold, wearing a ski mask or a scarf over the mouth and nose should help.

If air pollution or pollen also trigger asthma symptoms, your child may want to exercise indoors when air quality is poor or pollen counts are high. And exercise should be avoided during any upper respiratory infection.

You can help by ensuring your child takes all medicine prescribed by the doctor, even on days when he or she feels fine. Skipping controller medication can make symptoms worse and forgetting to take rescue medication before exercise can lead to severe flare-ups and even emergency department visits.

Kids should always have access to their rescue medication. Keep extras on hand and be sure to regularly check all supplies so your child isn’t carrying around an empty inhaler. Always remember to check the dose counter on your inhalers.

 

The Twelve Triggers of Christmas »

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Tis the season for decking the halls, filling our bellies and fun for all ages!  Tis also the time of year where asthma triggers can ruin our children’s holiday fun!

Triggers are all around us during this festive time of year and below is a list of the twelve triggers that you may come into contact with – sing to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”!

1.     Live Christmas trees

2.     Artificial trees

3.     Scented candles

4.     Smelly potpourri mixes

5.     Fabric ornaments

6.     Dusty stockings

7.     Fireplaces

8.     Live wreaths and garland

9.     Nut filled cookies and fruitcakes

10.   Artificial snow

11.   Grandfathers smoking pipes

12.   Christmas puppies

Ok, not quite the Twelve Days of Christmas, but you get the idea!!

You may ask, why live trees, wreaths and garland?  The answer is mold.  When the tress are cut, they are stored and get wet, grow mold and then you bring it into the house where the spores fly into the air.  If you decide on having a live tree, be sure to let it dry out in the garage for a few days before bringing it into the house to decorate.

Artificial trees are certainly better for those with asthma but are not without concern; they gather dust and can cause asthma symptoms.  The key to keeping dust at bay is to unpack all decorations outside and dust them before bringing them into the house to deck your halls!  Also, wash all stockings, tree skirts and fabric ornaments prior to using as they gather dust quickly too!

Everyone loves the smell of the holidays but candles and potpourri are often asthma triggers and should be avoided.  And as pretty has fake snow looks on decorations and window panes, it is very irritating to the lungs!

Wood burning fireplaces and grandpa’s pipes are especially difficult triggers for children to avoid and can be a touchy subject, but politely asking your relatives to not burn wood in the fireplace or smoke in the house will go a long way in adverting an asthma attack.

Food triggers are difficult to avoid because of all the holiday parties and not knowing the ingredients used in preparation.  Asking the host or hostess what ingredients were used and always having an Epi-pen available is the best way to be sure you enjoy all the treats without worry!

Last but not least…our furry friends.  Whether you receive a puppy or kitten as a gift or visit a home with furry residents, it is important to know that pre-medicating is the best way to minimize a reaction. Always wask your hands before and after touching or playing with our pets!

Remember, avoidance and pre-medication when going to visit unfamiliar environments is your best defense against unknown triggers and making sure they won’t spoil your holiday fun!

Outdoor Air Quality »

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According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “An air pollutant is any substance in the air that can cause harm to humans or the environment. Pollutants may be natural or man-made and may take the form of solid particles, liquid droplets or gases.”

Air pollution is made up of many kinds of gases, droplets and particles that reduce the quality of the air. If you or your child has asthma, have you ever noticed symptoms get worse when the air is polluted? When inhaled, outdoor pollutants and pollen can make it harder to breathe. It can also cause other symptoms, like coughing, wheezing, chest pain, digestive problems, dizziness, fever, lethargy, sneezing, shortness of breath, throat irritation, watery eyes and a burning feeling in the lungs. Outdoor air pollution and pollen may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma.

You can take steps to help protect you and your child’s health from air pollution:

  • Monitor the Air Quality Index daily at www.communityasthmajax.org
  • Know when and where air pollution may be bad.
  • Get to know how sensitive your child is to air pollution.
  • Stay inside with the windows closed on high pollen days and when pollutants are high.
  • Pay attention to asthma warning signs. If you start to see signs, limit outdoor activity. Be sure to talk about this with your child’s doctor.
  • Notice any asthma symptoms that begin up to a day after your child has been outdoors in polluted air. Air pollution can make your child more sensitive to asthma triggers, like mold and dust mites. If your child is more sensitive than usual to indoor asthma triggers, it could be due to air pollution outdoors.
  • Schedule outdoor activities at times when the air quality is better. In the summer, this may be in the morning.
  • Particle pollution levels can also be high: Near busy roads, during rush hour, and around factories. — When there is smoke in the air from wood stoves, fireplaces, or burning vegetation.
  • Remove indoor plants if they irritate or produce symptoms for you or your family.
  • Use your air conditioner to help filter the air coming into the home. Central air systems are the best.
  • Keep the humidity level below 50% in your home.

Teens and Families »

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Teens and Families

The rebelliousness and need for independence that comes with adolescence can be especially difficult for teens with asthma and their families. Children who have been responsibly managing their asthma for years may start to have more problems with symptoms. This could be because of hormonal changes, or it could be because of changes in their attitude and behavior.

Here are a few things that might be causing problems for your teen:

Needing to be “normal”

Teens are some times frustrated about anything that they think makes them different from their friends. They may be nervous about having an asthma episode in public. Or they may be encountering asthma triggers at a friend’s house that they are uncomfortable dealing with. During family meal times you may want to encourage your teen to talk about their feelings. And it is important to keep the lines of communication open between you, the doctor and you’re teen

Smoking

Smoking and secondhand smoke can cause sudden and severe asthma flares. If your child has started to smoke, or is spending time with smokers, they are going to have a lot of trouble keeping their asthma under control. The American Lung Association Not On Tobacco program can help 14 to 19 year old smokers end their addiction to nicotine. Parent’s smokers can also get telephone counseling through the Freedom from Smoking their website information is www.FFSOnline.org. Kids with asthma who live in households with smokers:

• may have flare-ups more often

• are more likely to have to go the emergency department with severe asthma flare-ups

• are more likely to miss school because of their asthma

• must take more asthma medicine

• have asthma that’s harder to control, even with medication

Playing sports

Like everyone who has asthma, teens should be able to live healthy active lives, including playing sports if they want to. Check in with the pediatrician to make sure your child’s Asthma Action Plan is up to date, and make sure the coach knows your child has asthma, and has a copy of the Plan.

Keeping an Asthma Diary »

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A part of asthma self management is an asthma diary. Keeping an asthma diary will help your child monitor their asthma triggers and asthma medications. The asthma diary puts the state of your child’s wellness firmly inside their own hands.

The asthma diary is used to:

  • Record your child’s asthma symptoms and peak expiratory flow (PEF) readings
  • Compare PEF readings with their asthma zones
  • Keep track of how often your child uses medications for a sudden asthma attack

 Having a diary, we can record much more info than just the time and location of the attack. For instance, when recording a meal, an additional item worth recording as your child’s trigger might be a particular ingredient, e.g. wheat, sugar, cheese.

Recording this information will help you and your child recognize asthma attacks and head them off before they become seriously ill.

By monitoring the severity of their asthma symptoms, using their peak flow meter and practicing self-management using their peak flow zones, your child can live an active free life free of asthma symptoms.

Remember to take your child’s asthma diary to each of their doctor visits so that their doctor can assess how well their asthma treatment plan is working.

CAPW is here to help you.

For more information, call us any weekday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 904.202.5132 or send us an email or get updates