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 ourΒ “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 πŸ™‚ It works πŸ™‚

The September Asthma Spike

As many of you probably know, the month of September has been been known as the Asthma Spike. The “so-called asthma spike – the day on which many parents will show up at the hospital with school-age children in the throes of asthma attacks” is a common thing, as the return to school and more exposure to allergens, like dust can cause youth’ asthma to flare up.

How do you try to prevent this from happening? Do you have a plan with your doctor? Perhaps you have discussed a plan with your pulmonary specialist or allergist. Do you feel your lungs are getting the best attention they can? When you have asthma and you know what triggers it, being proactive is the way to go!

Allergic Living has a great article on this, I suggest having a read πŸ™‚

http://allergicliving.com/index.php/2010/07/02/asthma-spike-in-september/

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.Β http://www.fortmcmurraytoday.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3598314

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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What flares up your asthma?

Do you have times of the year when you feel your asthma is worse? Perhaps your asthma is not majorly influenced by the variances in seasons like mine is. Do you know what your main asthma triggers are? Mold? Pollen? Exercise? Managing our asthma is often times very tough. For me, the hardest part of it all is when I can’t figure out what my trigger actually was for a specific attack. I have found myself coughing and coughing and before I know it I am wheezing, and I haven’t the slightest idea why. The worst is the asthma attacks that are brought on by laughter. I must say, I really do not enjoy these as I usually need to leave the group or whom ever I might have been with, to take my inhaler.

What do you do to try and get better control of your asthma? When do you go see your allergist or a doctor about your asthma not being as controlled as usual? If my asthma is still controlled, though I know it could be better, I will first try to ensure my sinuses are not a factor. Then if I am still having trouble controlling my asthma, I will go see a doctor, to get assessed. Often, this will mean trying a new medication or taking a closer look at what other triggers could be present in my life that I may have overlooked. Sometimes it is evident my immune system is weak and I have a cold or an infection, and it results in a prescription for prednisone or antibiotics. No two visits are identical.

In trying to be proactive in my approach, I exercise regularly as I know that it really helps me. This however, may not necessarily the case for everyone with asthma. I am also trying to add more yoga and meditation into my life in hopes of becoming more “in-tune” with my body. In practicing yoga, I find my ability to focus on my breathing has greatly improved.I am now using this skill in situations when my breathing is a little more rapid than it should be; particularly if I find I am anxious.

Here is an article written in the Yoga Journal about asthma. Have a read, maybe you’ll want to take up yoga too! πŸ™‚

http://www.yogajournal.com/health/127

** PLEASE NOTE that if your asthma is NOT controlled and you are having an asthma attack, yoga or breathing is NOT a substitute for your inhalers. It is best to consult with your doctor before taking on any new exercise routines.

Whoa! Something is in the air!

My boyfriend and I just went for a bike ride and my nose just wouldn’t stop running! Symptoms also included itchy eyes and nose, tighter chest and now a headache. I am clueless. Anyone else notice worse allergy symptoms today than usual? I have been considering myself lucky because in the last few years, living out in Victoria, British Columbia, I have not had crazy seasonal allergies. I was always so relieved. Several of my friends have been telling me “Just wait, I didn’t have seasonal allergies for the first few years after moving to Victoria. The symptoms will come around”. Β Makes me wonder what keeps us from reacting the first few years, and them BAM! Oh well, it means another detective type project for me. Not going to lie, I do find it fun to try and figure out WHY. Unless of course I am unable to come up with any reasons or even a hypothesis.

Maybe when we move to a new place, our body isn’t used to the new pollens and we don’t react. No idea πŸ™‚

Spring in Victoria, British Columbia

Many of my friends are expressing that their seasonal allergies are crazier than normal this spring. If you live in Victoria, have you noticed any difference? How about colleagues at work? I even know a few that have NEVER before had seasonal allergies when living in Victoria; who may have had allergies when they lived in other provinces, like Alberta and Quebec, but in moving here with the change of pollens, things seemed to change.

I don’t know EXACTLY why our seasonal allergies are particularly worse this year… More things in bloom at the same time? Wider range in temperatures (rain to sunny and warm, to rain again) ? Maybe there are different kinds of molds out. I do not quite know.

What I do know is that when I moved to Victoria, almost 4 yrs ago, my INSANE seasonal allergies seemed to disappear! I could not have been any happier! It has been soooo nice! Well until now. The stuffy/runny nose, itchy eyes, headaches and congested sinuses, itchy skin and other symptoms have probably gotten to your head. Maybe you had a day or two where your nose was soooo stuffed you were insanely frustrated. Perhaps you keep taking antihistamines and it feels like you are “popping candy” as one of my friends’ said. We have all had days like that, however it is super important that we try to stay positive despite it all, because a negative attitude is no good. Trust me on that one. So when you start to get aggravated, take a deep breathe and try to relax because “it is what it is”.

As I am prone to sinus infections and the constant runny nose doesn’t help, I try to take a proactive approach and use either the Netti pot or other nasal rinses on a daily basis. Actually, right now, I am on it morning and night and it has been helping so much. It may seem like so much work and you may ask yourself why you are doing it if your sinuses are not completely blocked. Answer is… If you wait until they are completely congested, you won’t be getting much of the saline solution through, will you? πŸ™‚

So smile, rest up, exercise and stay healthy. And don’t forget to laugh!! Laughter can do wonders.

Do you have other tips to share with readers? I am 100% certain if you are reading this post you or someone you know has been “hit” by seasonal allergies, whether in Canada or any other county in the World! Lets all help each other. Suggestions? Stories? Sympathy? Please share.