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

Crutches

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.

A fine balancing act

plane_landing_logo

Finding a balance between jobs, school, rehabilitation from injuries and volunteering, all the while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle can prove challenging at times. Even with many things on my plate, I find time to go for a walk, sit on a bench in the inner harbor to watch the float planes take off and land, or do some art. It CAN be done. Even if you think you don’t have the time. Find the time. Often times the reason I am not posting is because I have too much on my plate, and I am taking some much needed down time.

Like many other chronic conditions, allergies and asthma can add a significant time commitment to your already filled schedule. Reading all the food labels at the grocery store; on cosmetics, beauty or cleaning products, can take a fair bit of time, depending on the allergies you have. When I am looking for new products to use, whether it be; shampoo, conditioner, make-up or other soaps, I need to plan for a good hour or two for label reading, going to different stores if needed, and often, calling manufacturers. My most recent challenge has been to find a new shampoo as I have been getting hives from the one I used for years. It is becoming quite the search… A week later I am still looking.

This can often add more anxiety to our lives. Too much anxiety is not good. What do you do to wind down, relax, take a break? Who helps you to let loose and take some time where you are not thinking about the million things you have to get done?

Fun with friends in a trigger-free environment!

Carol and I

My friends and I had a fun time cross-country skiing the other day. An activity where I do not need to worry about my allergies in the least bit. And with controlled asthma I have even less to worry about. Even though I was only able to go for a short ski due to pain from injuries, I had an AMAZING time! That short ski made my day! Often times, it is the small things in life we need to embrace.

There have been several occasions when I cannot attend an event with friends, because the building the play or event is being held in, is old and dusty. There are also occasions I cannot attend a celebration or potluck dinner because the host has pets. However frustrating those instances can be in the moment, when I look at the big picture, there are many things I CAN do with friends where I don’t need to worry about my allergies. A hiking trip, a picnic on the beach (I make my own food), a bike ride or a walk along the inner harbour to watch the float planes take-off and land. Another one I like is; dinner at our place, where guests bring the wine and we make dinner.

Whenever I invite others into my SAFE & controlled home environment, I need to be sure they are not coming in clothes that are covered in pet dander. I also need to inform them not to wear strong perfumes or deodorants as these will trigger me. Most friends understand and are willing to take action. Friends who have pets will bring clothes fresh out of the dryer to change into when they arrive and avoid wearing perfume or strong smelling deodorants. I used to feel bad listing the precautions friends would need to take, to insure that my safe zone is not breached and I quickly learned that close friends will take the measures they need to, to keep me safe. There are occasions when I have felt like a burden, however I quickly learned that I am NOT a burden. And that I should never think that. Friends and family will listen. You just need to communicate with heart and honesty. Whether they understand how serious it is, or how to take precautions, well, that’s a story for another time…

 

 

A homemade $25 HEPA filter!

HEPA Filter

If you have environmental allergies, you will want to make sure your home is a safe place. Minimizing the triggers in your home is of utmost importance, and it is harder to minimize triggers in an office or in public transit. Having a controlled home environment means that you can come home at the end of the day, to a safe place. Where your body gets some down time and is not exposed to as many triggers. Air purifiers are very good at cleaning the air in your home from those smaller particles that could be triggering you.

HEPA filters can be expensive. They usually range between $100.00 and $800.00 and in some cases, for larger houses, you may need two.

The University of Michigan Health System has come up with a short, informative video that demonstrates how you can make your own homemade filtration unit for approximately $25. I fully intend on making one myself to see how it works!
Click here to view their video…

Another post I have written on dust allergies can be found here:
Dust here, there and everywhere

Dust here, there and everywhere

achoo

If you are allergic to dust, you may find times of the year are worst than others. In the winter when it is either very wet and rainy, or very cold and covered in snow, dust triggers will be indoors or in cars that have not been cleaned… When spring comes around, and summer, then the dust from unpaved roads, or even asphalt roads that haven’t been swept could trigger you, when walking or biking. When cars drive by, dust particles are kicked up and become airborne.

I like winter as I only need to focus on the dust inside the house and workplace. How do you control dust inside the home? We have an air purifier and use it daily. Vacuuming on a regular basis is another priority. We have a nifty vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) certified filter. This filter works by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles such as dust mites and other triggers like tobacco smoke, pet dander (dandruff) and pollen. Does your vacuum have a HEPA filter? Weekly vacuuming is often the suggested frequency. If I had time to vacuum more often I surely would. :)

If you are triggered by dust in the workplace, speak to a supervisor about it. It is a health risk. Workplaces need to be clean and safe for all employees. Do not suffer in silence. The truth is that there is bound to be someone else who is also triggered by the dust. Itchy eyes, skin, runny nose, asthma can all result from dust particles. Employers should be understanding and willing to work with you.

What are your biggest concerns around controlling dust in your home, workplace or other?

Things you don’t think about when you sign up for a gym membership…

gym

Having sensitivities and allergies to scents; perfumes, chemicals etc. can be challenging. If you deal with these, have you ever noticed how trips to the gym usually trigger allergies or asthma? My trip to the gym on monday night had to have been the worst yet in terms of triggers. The smell of deodorants and perfume was overwhelming! And I found myself taking antihistamines to make it through the session, chaperoning my athletes. What are your experiences? Have you noticed the same?

I am also very cautious using the cleaners at the gym, as I haven’t the slightest clue what they use. I wash my hands immediately after using the spray and cloth to clean off the machines. Anyone else do the same?