Scent-sitive – Tips to making those of us with Asthma feel safer during the Holidays

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Scented candles are one of many triggers that can cause a healthy person like me to have an Asthma attack. Many people do not understand that the chemicals, fragrances and scents that go into these candles to make them smell like cranberry and orange, pumpkin and spice, or vanilla (only a few mentioned) can trigger wheezing and serious troubles breathing for people like me. People who are Asthmatic.

I have always found it hard to explain to people that the scented candles are triggering my Asthma and are the culprit. Many do not believe a candle could do such a thing. But it does. Incense is just the same, and often worse, as it will give off more smoke. Don’t get me wrong, I love scented candles; my lungs don’t.

During the holidays if you are hosting and you know that one of your guests has environmental Allergies and/or Asthma please ask them if scented candles and incense are one of their triggers. There is a very good chance they are. Holidays can be one of the most stressful times for many of us who live with Asthma, environmental Allergies and food Allergies. If someone has told you that candles and incense trigger them, please respect that.

In the simplest of terms, think of scented candles and incense as you would perfumes and colognes. If friends and family have expressed that perfumes set off their Asthma, then candles and incense will likely have the same effect.

“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

hotels

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!!

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…

 

 

Wearing a mask on the bus

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Have any of you considered wearing a mask on public transit or on chartered buses? I have worn a mask when on larger chartered buses for longer trips, like 1 hr or more. I have never worn them on public transit. I will be taking a chartered bus at the end of the month and know, without any doubt that I will be wearing a mask. I have a stock at home and am ready to sit next to the window and strap my mask on. I’ve had reactions in buses before and wearing the mask makes me feel safe.

So what’s the difference with wearing a mask on local public transit over a chartered bus? Well, triggers are definitely the exact same, so the benefit would be the same. Well worth it! The difference is that I would get a whole lot more stares and feel much less comfortable on public transit. The crazy thing is that other countries wear masks all the time. But here it would get quite a bit of attention. People wear them for colds and illnesses, however wearing them for allergies might not actually be all that common, if in fact it happens at all.

How do you deal with triggers on the bus. Would you wear a mask?

An Asthma game you do not want to miss!

Quest for the Code

My friend recently discovered a terrific game from the starlight children’s foundation! This fun, engaging and educational game is free. Even at 24 yrs I had fun playing! :) It reminds me of the Magic School bus.

Have your kids play and learn about triggers, warning signs and symptoms, proper use of asthma medication devices, peak flow monitoring and other info.

“The game combines asthma education with rich graphics, an engaging storyline and the talent of eleven top celebrities to help young people learn how to manage their asthma.”
www.starlight.org/asthma/

This is exactly what we need more of!

Do you know of any others out there?