Spring is here!

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For many of us, spring can be a time we do not look forward to… Everything is in bloom… There is pollen everywhere!! Here in Victoria, British Columbia everything is flowering. I have been pretty lucky… knock on wood. Since moving out here in 2008, I haven’t had terrible seasonal allergies. I’ll get a runny nose and some sneezing here and there, however it is nowhere near the symptoms I dealt with in the spring and fall when I lived in Montreal, Quebec! My oh my! I do not miss those days… Not one bit.

In my teenage years, I worked with my father in the family company, doing weekly maintenance of swimming pools. Each morning, we’d leave with our ”allergy kit” for a day of work outside. This kit included tons of tissues, various antihistamines and eye drops and nose drops. During prime time allergy season, my dad and I were a mess. Driving together in the pick up truck, we’d be sneezing like there was no tomorrow! You could here us from a mile away! The worst thing for me was that it would flare up my asthma pretty bad. And that was the hardest part for me. We had a hard time as there wasn’t one antihistamines that worked for us all the time. We were constantly trying new ones, trying to find one that would work for us, to no avail.

When I moved out here, it was like a mini vacation. I’ve had scratch tests done and I do not react to any of the pollen out here. Hurray! With all my other allergies, it’s nice to not have to deal with seasonal allergies too.

For all those out there with serious seasonal allergies, an allergist can help you come up with the proper plan and one option is immunotherapy. I have been taking immunotherapy for 3.5 years now for cats, dogs and dust mites and it has made a world of difference! Black and white really! Back then when I started I couldn’t even take public transit due to pet dander on people’s clothing… nor could I go to a coffee shop or even attend classes at UVic, let alone actually go into a house with a dog (even on antihistamines)! Now, I can go to certain people’s houses, mainly ones with poodles, but also my family home, where there are two dogs!

I say that if immunotherapy can make such a HUGE difference for me with cats and dogs, I am fairly certain it has the potential for great relief to all you seasonal allergy sufferers out there! So schedule a visit with your allergist and ask them about immunotherapy :) It works :)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! The Allergy Fix – Airing February 27th, 2014 7pm

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If you ask yourself the same questions I do about why we hear about food allergies more these days, how might we be able to treat them and advances in science to date, I highly recommend you watch “The Allergy Fix”, a documentary by Dream Film airing on CBC’s The Nature of Things.

I will be tuning in on Thursday February 27, 2014 at 7pm (7:30 NL). Will you?

Here are a few links that might be of interest to you as well as the promo flyer:

Dream Film – The Allergy Fix

DEBUT: The Allergy Fix – David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things

VIDEO TRAILER for The Allergy Fix

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A safe and relaxing Valentine’s Day weekend away from home

 

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On Friday afternoon, my partner and I headed up island for a weekend away. A wonderful birthday gift from family. We stayed at Ocean Trails Resort. The place we stayed in had a full kitchen which was great. We packed up a cooler full of food from home and grabbed safe utensils (as I do not feel particularly safe using plastic utensils that have been used to cook things I would likely be allergic to). It is always great to bring our own food as I feel extremely safe and don’t have any worries about the weekend. I can fully relax knowing that all the food we brought is safe and there is no chance of a reaction, especially considering the fact that everything we made had no processed foods in it, just vegetables, meat and rice. Safe as can be!

Before we booked the suite for the weekend, I called and made sure to ask whether the suites were pet-free and non smoking. They had assured me of both. When we went to the front desk to check in on Friday evening, I was extremely excited to see they had a sign which clearly stated their allergy policy:

allegy signSeeing this sign was a huge relief and sparked a conversation with the receptionist who explained that they understand how sensitive people can be with pets and smoke and know that pet dander can stay on furniture and in the carpet for a long time.

It was the first weekend away from home EVER I have not had to take any benadryl or other antihistamines! The place was spotless, buildings were newer and there were lots of windows we could open for some fresh air. No itchy eyes, scratchy throat or asthma attacks. It was truly wonderful.

If you are looking for a pet-free place to stay on the island, with a well equipped kitchen and fireplace, I highly recommend visiting them for a weekend, or perhaps even longer! We will definitely be going back there. :)

Thank you Ocean Trails Resort for a weekend we will remember! Conveniently located right next to Rathtrevor Beach, which we went to today, though it was very wet and windy.

Denied the right to carry an inhaler on their person.

If your child is in school and has asthma, are they allowed to carry their inhaler on their person at all times? When I was in elementary school and high school in Quebec, I was. There were never any questions asked…

If you have not yet heard the story of a young Ontario boy who lost his life Oct. 9th, 2012 due to a severe asthma attack, you need to read this story. I am still shocked that some schools wouldn’t allow youth with asthma and prescribed inhalers to carry them at all times. Ryan’s mother, Sandra Gibbons is taking a stand and wants to ensure what happened to her son does not happen to another child.

Read here: Ontario Mom Urges Schools to let Asthmatic Kids Carry Puffers

 

When injury, asthma and allergy collide! Part 1 of 2

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You may be asking yourself how injuries, asthma and allergies relate…or perhaps you have already had a few experiences of your own, where these three factors have been at play…

I’ll start by saying that I’m a young adult who LOVES to be active and living with pain from an accident I was in 3 yrs ago has been challenging enough. Now if you’ve ever been injured, you know how tricky it can be both mentally and physically. It can be especially tricky mentally, when you are used to being active, and all of a sudden are either home with your ankle, leg etc. in a cast, or dealing with another injury, which limits and often entirely prevents you from doing almost all sports and activities, even walking.

Now, there’s good news for most of us… And that good news is that more commonly than not the injury is a sprain, break or other injury that will take a few months, or perhaps a year to heal and then we can start getting active again. Slowly at first of course. Alternatively, the injury is such that the pain you are dealing with is like a roller coaster, where some days are better than others. You are up and down, and often somewhere in between your high and low.

Soo… being lucky enough to have an activity that I CAN do, to stay active and strengthen means that nothing can get in my way from doing the activity. For me, it is swimming. Now, I swam back in high school, and always seemed to get sick and struggled with asthma, due to the chlorine in the pool. As  result, I was only on swim team for a season, and then I opted for another intramural.

Swimming on a regular basis, means that I need to be extra cautious about managing my asthma and allergies. Taking my controller medication morning and night for the asthma is a HUGE priority for me and I never miss a dose. Aside from ensuring my asthma is well controlled so the chlorine does not trigger me, I am getting lots of rest, to ensure my body is in top shape in case I get a cold. The last thing I need is to get really sick and not be able to swim, because my allergies and asthma have flared up! I also make sure my skin is well taken care of, so it doesn’t not break out into a rash or hives due to the chlorine.

It is thus extremely important to stay on top of your asthma and allergies, ESPECIALLY if swimming is your rehab therapy for an injury, because if you get triggered, well, your rehab therapy might be on the line.

There you have it.

Injuries + Allergies = The need to be extremely proactive.

Have you ever struggled with injury all the while trying to manage your asthma and allergies which were being directly affected?

What strategies did you come up with?

 

“Defining allergy fact from fiction”

I’ve been busy lately, and am trying to organize my routine, so I can still have time to post and share interesting articles and research I come across with you, my readers.

Nowadays, there is so much information on the internet that it can often feel like you need to sift through fact and fiction or myth and reality. I always say to go with what you hear straight from a board-certified allergist and/or physician. Who knows what the real source is on the internet. I know if I have questions, whether it be about contact skin reactions, food reactions, potential allergic reactions to medications, I go to my allergist, and if he’s not available, then I’ll run it by my physician. And then, once they’ve diagnosed, or explained it to me, yes, I may do an internet search to see if others are living with the same challenges, because it’s nice to not feel alone.

I hope the following article will help you see some fact on a few topics you or perhaps someone you know believed, and in the end is fiction.

Defining allergy fact from fiction” – Press Release from American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

What was the biggest “Ah ha!” of this article, that you perhaps wish your friends or family read, so they would see that it is “just a myth”.

For me it is hands down #5; “I’m Allergic to Cats and Dogs, but Can Have a Hypoallergenic Breed”. So many people say “oh, it’s a poodle, you won’t be allergic”… actually, yes, I am.

Hotel stays… Not always exciting for us folks with allergies and asthma

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It’s all in the title. This coming weekend I am taking some kayak athletes to an out of town race. What this means is that we will be staying in a hotel for 2 nights… As there weren’t many options to choose from in this town, this place was our best bet. Coincidentally, they allow pets. Now if you have environmental allergies as severe as mine, it’s a little worrisome.

Yesterday I called the hotel and asked my “slew” of questions… I was lucky to have a receptionist who was not flustered by all my questions and was helpful. It went something like this… (not verbatim)

Me: Hi, I will be staying at your hotel this coming weekend and have a few questions for you as I have severe allergies, especially to pets.

Reception: Ok, sure, go ahead.

Me: Well, it says that you allow pets, is that correct? 

Reception: Yes

Me: As I am extremely allergic to pets, I am wondering whether you can guarantee that the room I stay in has not had a pet in it. 

Reception: Well, we generally don’t have pets above the 1st floor. And it looks like the room you reserved will be on the second floor. When you arrive, you can go to the room and if it affects you, we can move you to another room.

Me: Ok, thank you.

Me: All rooms are non-smoking, correct? 

Reception: Yes

Me: Are there windows or patios in the rooms? And if windows, can they be opened?

Reception: No patios, there are windows that can be opened.

Me: Thank you so much, umm, just one more question… Can you please make a I am extremely sensitive to cleaning products and such. Is it possible to have them use less scented products for cleaning our room prior to arrival and not spray any air fresheners or other products in the room, as I am extremely allergic.

Reception: I cannot confirm that now. I would recommend you call on thursday morning, prior to your arrival to confirm your allergies with the reception as it will be closer to the date. They should be able to accommodate.

Me: Ok, thank you very much. I appreciate all your help. It is tricky traveling with allergies. I am also wondering if there is a fridge in the room.

Reception: You are welcome, I can only imagine. Yes, there is a mini-fridge in all rooms. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Me: No, you have answered all my questions. Thanks you again. Have a nice day.

Reception: You too.

Though the answers did make me feel better, I am still a little hesitant about the hotel and will be sure to take all my antihistamines and asthma inhalers with me. I will likely bring a few masks just in case there is no other option. Thursday morning, first thing, I’ll be calling them back.

Have you ever had a conversation like that with hotel reception? Have they been helpful or did they not really understand? My questions about the patio are the result of a bad experience two weekends ago, when all rooms in the hotel had patios. Though the hotel is non-smoking, there had definitely been people smoking on the patio in the first room we checked into as my asthma was triggered almost instantly upon walking into the room. After talking to the receptionist about the room, she moved us into another room (upgrade) and I was symptom free! Thinking back, had we stayed in that first room overnight, my asthma would have flared up and I would have been sick and miserable. I am so glad my boyfriend convinced me to go to the reception right away. Yes, even I sometimes try to settle because I feel like I may be “annoying” about my allergies. I am so lucky to have someone to help me keep my game on. When it comes to health, it’s not worth the risk! Step up and speak up. I’m good at this, but sometimes I slip. Luckily this time when I slipped I had someone to catch me. :)

Travel safe!!