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 :)

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

Back up and running with Immunotherapy for dust mites

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About a month ago I decided to take a break from the Immunotherapy. Both the new cat and dog sublingual treatment and the dust mites that are subcutaneous (by injection). I had been reacting more than ever before to the dust mites and thought perhaps my body needed a break for the injections. I had been on the sublingual treatment for cats and dogs for a month and the oral itching seemed to be getting worse. Benadryl seemed to be the only solution, which made me EXTREMELY drowsy. In the last week, I have been reacting to dust quite a bit more than usual, and I decided to resume the subcutaneous injections for dust mites.

The sublingual immunotherapy was new for me. I like the idea of being able to take it at home, as I would have less allergist/doctor appointments than the subcutaneous injections. It seemed more convenient and I wanted to give it a try. I know that this treatment has been successful for many, though I seem to react a little differently than most people to these types of things…

Is anyone else out there using the sublingual immunotherapy? If so, is it working out for you? I’ve been informed that the oral itching usually decreases with time. Is anyone past the oral itching stage? I’d like to start it up again however I’m not quite ready for all that oral itching and antihistamine drowsiness yet…

Back to School and Asthma

With classes approaching, asthmatics (children and young adults alike) will be faced with unique challenges and awareness of the triggers will be of great importance. How have you prepared for your child’ return to school in the past? If you are a University student, what does back to classes mean to you, that is if you were off for the summer…

I know I had a tough time, especially during pollen season. However, there is usually a work around, and hopefully some of your professors are understanding and willing to accommodate. In my own experience, discussing your allergies and asthma with the professor at the start of the course and/or making an appointment to talk with them during their office hours is always a GREAT idea!

Here’s an interesting article about back to school with asthma. http://www.fortmcmurraytoday.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3598314

Asthma attacks and Flare-ups

Have you or someone you know ever had to be on prednisone? After such a flare-up were you able to fully identify what the triggers were that lead to the asthma attack? Most of the time it is hard to know EXACTLY what the trigger/triggers were. Sometimes it is a combination of things and our body is not able to handle it.

The last 10 days have been hard as I had a flare up with my allergies and asthma which has resulted in my being on prednisone. As annoying as the side effects can be, I am glad to be feeling better. This is the first serious flare-up for me in quite some time and it makes me realize that though I have lots of support, a great allergist and family doctor, there are still some actions I can take, which would make me even better prepared for any similar attacks in the future.

Do you have an adequate “Asthma Team” in place? Here in Victoria, BC we have an Asthma Clinic which has a pulmonary specialist on call. Do you have a pulmonary specialist? What is your action plan, or the action plan for your son/daughter or loved one? Having a proper plan in place is very important. Do you have a peak flow meter and know how to use it? Knowing what your lung capacity is when you are feeling at your very best and when you are feeling tight provides a great way to monitor your lungs. The American Association of Allergy Asthma & Immunology has a great article on peak flow meters and how important they are; “A peak flow meter for asthma is like a thermometer for a fever. It helps monitor what’s going on inside your body.” AAAAI

I highly recommend having a glance through National Asthma Patient Alliance – Asthma Society of Canada‘s website. Do you know many others who struggle with asthma? Are you wondering how others deal with their asthma and how they might have overcome some of the challenges we often face on a day to day basis? Have a read through some real-life stories on the Asthma Society of Canada’s website! It’s always nice to know you are not the only one :)

 

 

XXI World Congress of Asthma is around the corner!

I am very excited to be attending thanks to Allergen NCE. There is a little more information on their website now about the topics that will be discussed and the FINAL Program is also up!

Looking through the numerous sessions, titles and keynotes & speakers has been extremely inspiring, as my primary concerns and interest lie in why asthma is on the rise, and, how to manage asthma in the work place or school. It is one thing to have a home that is clear of mold and dust and is controlled, however I haven’t quite figured out how to deal with alternate environments which have multiple triggers that are beyond my control.

Over the next few days, I will be looking through the program and trying to figure out which sessions I will be attending! It’s like looking at a menu! Hopefully I will be seeing some of you there!

BTW, I can’t seem to find abstracts yet either…

:)

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