Posts Tagged ‘asthma’

Pregnant? Have young kids? Learn how to stay safe during the holidays

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Holiday babyWith a little planning and a few tips, your holidays can be healthy, safe and bright.

Fireplaces

Roaring fires in your fireplace are a beautiful sight in the winter, especially during the holiday season. But, it is essential to take simple steps to ensure your home is safe.

Keep your fireplace curtains or door closed when the fire is lit and be sure the damper is open. After the fire dies down, wait until the ashes are completely cold before disposing them. It is best to place the ashes in a metal trash can to ensure that a smoldering ember does not cause another fire. Have you had your fireplace flue cleaned recently? If not, consider having it done, to help prevent smoking.

Live Christmas trees

Christmas trees are beautiful and fragrant, but should be kept far away from your fireplace or any burning candles. Be sure all electrical connections are in perfect working order, and water your tree daily so that it does not dry out and become tinder.

If you have asthma, or anyone in your family has allergies or breathing problems, a live tree may cause irritation to the airways. Check with your health care provider to see if a live tree will cause any difficulty. If so, an artificial tree is a great alternative.

Candles

No one loves the sight of flickering candles more than I do, but the risk of a candle tipping over and causing a fire is real. Since I switched to battery operated candles, I no longer worry about accidents. They look so realistic and create the same effect. Do yourself a favor and take one more worry off your mind by using battery operated candles, especially if you have curious toddlers or children at home.

In addition, sometimes scented candles cause allergic reactions in people with breathing problems. Look for unscented versions or use battery operated candles.

Got any tips for this holiday season? We’d love to hear them.

 

RDS and BPD – breathing problems in preemies

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

NICU sign 1If your baby was born prematurely, you are probably concerned about his lungs. A baby’s lungs are not considered to be fully functional until around 35 weeks of pregnancy. If your baby was born before that, it is possible that he may struggle with breathing.

 

RDS

A serious breathing problem called respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) is the most common illness in the NICU. But, the good news is that due to medical advances, babies with RDS have a 99% survival rate.

Babies with RDS struggle to breathe because their immature lungs do not produce enough surfactant, a protein that keeps small air sacs in the lungs from collapsing. March of Dimes grantees helped develop surfactant therapy, which was introduced in 1990. Since then, deaths from RDS have been reduced by half.

Babies with RDS also may receive a treatment called C-PAP (continuous positive airway pressure). The air may be delivered through small tubes in the baby’s nose, or through a tube that has been inserted into his windpipe. As with surfactant treatment, C-PAP helps keep small air sacs from collapsing. C-PAP helps your baby breathe, but does not breathe for him. The sickest babies may temporarily need the help of a mechanical ventilator to breathe for them while their lungs recover. Learn more about the differences between C-PAP and a ventilator, as well as causes, symptoms and treatment of RDS.

BPD

BPD (bronchopulmonary dysplasia) is a chronic lung disease common in preemies who have been treated for RDS. These babies may develop fluid in the lungs, scarring and lung damage. Medications can help make breathing easier for them. Usually babies with BPD improve by age 2 but others may develop a chronic lung condition similar to asthma. Learn about asthma, including questions to ask your child’s health care provider and how to help your child understand his breathing problems.

Even though the outlook for babies born prematurely has improved greatly, many babies still face serious complications and lasting disabilities. Many March of Dimes grantees seek new ways to improve the care of these tiny babies, while others strive to prevent premature delivery.

Have questions?  Email or text AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We are here to help.

 

Preemies and asthma – how to help your child

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

asthma inhalerResearch has shown that premature birth (before 37 weeks) can cause a baby to have lung and breathing problems such as asthma, a health condition that affects the airways.

Asthma causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing. It can be mild to severe. If your child has asthma, he is far from alone. According to the CDC, 6.8 million children have asthma, or 1 in 11 children.

Asthma can be controlled by taking medicine and avoiding the triggers that can cause a flare-up. It is important to remove the triggers in your child’s environment that can make asthma worse.

What causes asthma symptoms?

Many children with asthma have allergies. Coming into contact with an allergen can set off asthma symptoms. Common allergens are: dust mites, animal dander, mold and pollen.

Other triggers include air pollution, smoke, exercise and infections in the airways. Asthma symptoms may be brought on by a change in air temperature, perfumes and odors from cleaning products.

How can you help your child?

Understand your child’s asthma condition as much as possible. Learn how to minimize triggers and know what to do in the event of an asthma flare-up. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers ways to avoid asthma triggers or irritants.

What are common treatments?

Depending on how mild or severe your child’s asthma condition is, treatments will vary. Often quick relief medicines (such as inhalers) will be prescribed to help stop an asthma flare-up. These medicines help to open the airways making breathing easier.

Long term treatments include medications that aim to keep the lungs from becoming inflamed. These medications help prevent flare-ups, and need to be taken even when there are no asthma symptoms.

What about childcare and school?

The AAP has helpful info on the various treatments available and offers management tips for different situations such as at home or school.

The CDC has recommendations on how you can make your child’s childcare or school environment as successful and asthma free as possible. In the United States, there are laws to help your child at school. For example, a 504 plan might be needed to help your child access his education through reasonable accommodations.

What should you ask your child’s health care provider?

Ask for an individualized asthma action plan. This is a written plan to help your child avoid his particular triggers and respond to asthma symptoms. The plan aims to give you more control of your child’s condition, and hopefully, to avoid emergency situations. The plan can be used anywhere – at home, day care or school.

How can your child understand his asthma?

There are books, videos and podcasts available that you can explore with your child to help him learn about his condition (if he is old enough to understand):
How to use your asthma inhaler video shows kids using an inhaler properly.
Dusty the asthma goldfish and his asthma triggers is a downloadable fun book that helps kids and parents understand triggers.
• The CDC’s Kiddtastics podcast is another way for parents and kids to learn about managing symptoms.
• Here are other resources specifically geared towards kids. Check them out.

Bottom line

No two children are alike, and each asthma case is unique. As with any health condition, be sure to speak with your child’s health care provider about all of your concerns. With knowledge, medical advice and an action plan, your child can live a very full and active life.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org

Read more about how to help your child with a delay, disability or health condition.

 

Controlling asthma during pregnancy

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

inhaler2Asthma is a lung disease that causes your airways to tighten up, making it hard for you to breathe. Asthma affects 4 to 8 out of every 100 pregnant women (4 to 8 percent). If you keep your asthma under control, it probably won’t cause any problems during your pregnancy. So, it’s really important to keep all your prenatal care appointments and work with your health care provider to keep your asthma in check. If you don’t control your asthma, you may be at risk for a serious health problem called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a certain kind of high blood pressure that only pregnant women get and can result in poor fetal growth and other pregnancy complications.

Your health care provider needs to monitor your lungs while you’re pregnant so he can adjust your asthma medicines, if needed. Tell your provider if your symptoms improve or get worse. By limiting your contact with allergens and other asthma triggers, you may need to take less medicine to control your symptoms.

Lots of women ask if it’s safe to take asthma medicine during pregnancy. If asthma symptoms don’t stop or get worse, they can be a risk to you and your baby. If you were taking asthma medicine before pregnancy, don’t stop taking it without talking to your provider first. If you’re diagnosed with asthma during pregnancy, talk to your provider about the best way to treat or manage it.

If you’re already getting allergy shots, you can keep taking them during pregnancy. But if you aren’t getting allergy shots, don’t start taking them when you’re pregnant because you could have a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.

Asthma symptoms often change during pregnancy. Sometimes they get better and sometimes they get worse. We don’t really understand what causes these changes. If your asthma is not well controlled or if your asthma is moderate to severe, your provider may recommend repeated ultrasounds to check to make sure your baby’s growing normally.

Only about 1 in 10 pregnant women with asthma (10 percent) have symptoms during labor and birth. Take your usual asthma medicines during labor and birth. If you still have asthma symptoms, don’t panic, your health care provider can help control them.

Want to know more? Read our info on asthma during pregnancy, that includes symptoms, common triggers and how to avoid them, treatments, and medications during breastfeeding.

Asthma med no longer available

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

asthmaThe FDA says users of epinephrine inhalers containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) should plan now to get a prescription for a replacement product because these inhalers will not be made or sold after Dec. 31, 2011. Epinephrine inhalers, marketed by Armstrong Pharmaceutical Inc. as Primatene Mist, are the only FDA-approved inhalers for the temporary relief of occasional symptoms of mild asthma that are sold over-the-counter in retail stores without a prescription. The product uses CFCs to propel the medicine out of the inhaler so that consumers can breathe it into their lungs.

No CFC-containing epinephrine inhalers can be made or sold after Dec. 31, 2011, to comply with obligations made under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. This is an international agreement signed by the United States, in which countries agreed to phase-out substances that deplete the ozone layer, including CFCs, after certain dates.

If you or your children use one of these inhalers, speak to your health care provider now about switching to another product. For information, read the FDA news release. 

Mold exposure and asthma

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

asthmaFor those of us impacted by flooding from wicked weather, it is important to know that a newly published study revealed that exposure to household mold in infancy greatly increases a child’s risk of developing asthma.

Researchers with the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study analyzed seven years of data collected from 176 children who were followed from infancy. These children were considered at high risk of developing asthma because of a family medical history of asthma.

By age seven, 18% of the children in the study developed asthma. Those who lived in homes with mold during infancy were three times more likely to develop asthma by age 7 than those who were not exposed to mold when they were infants.

“Early life exposure to mold seems to play a critical role in childhood asthma development,” lead author Tiina Reponen, a professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati, said in a university news release. “Genetic factors are also important to consider in asthma risk, since infants whose parents have an allergy or asthma are at the greatest risk of developing asthma.”

“This study should motivate expectant parents—especially if they have a family history of allergy or asthma—to correct water damage and reduce the mold burden in their homes to protect the respiratory health of their children,” added Reponen.

If you have suffered water damage, take care to make sure you have no mold growing in your home. This link will take you to articles from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protectioin Agency (EPA) on cleaning up mold.

Air quality index issues

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

smogThe air quality index (AQI) tells you how healthy the air is to breathe each day. It tells you how clean your air is or how polluted it is with solid particles and gases. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.

Harmful ozone forms when pollutants react to heat and sunlight. This is why we see more smog in the spring and summer. You probably have noticed your local weather report now includes a number or color for each day’s AQI. It’s important to pay attention to this. Here’s a link to a chart that explains the air quality index.

For their size, children take in more air (and pollution) than adults when they breathe. Their young lungs are continually growing and their airways are more likely to narrow in reaction to pollutants. When running around, which is most of the time in our house, children breathe faster and more deeply than adults. This can bring the pollutants in the air further into their lungs.

Children with respiratory ailments, asthma or other breathing difficulties should be kept indoors when the AQI rises. Keep an eye on your local AQI and adapt your planned activities for the day if necessary. It’s important to follow their doctor’s instructions for asthma treatments and to have assistive devices (like inhalers) nearby when the AQI is high.

Asthma during pregnancy

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

inhalerAny illness that affects breathing can be more serious during pregnancy. If you have asthma, it may stay the same, worsen or improve during pregnancy. If you have moderate to severe asthma, you’re at increased risk of an asthma attack during the third trimester of pregnancy and during labor and delivery, so you and your doc need to keep a careful eye on it to keep it under control.

Poorly controlled asthma can deprive the baby of oxygen, increasing the risk of premature birth (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy), poor fetal growth and low birthweight (less than 5½ pounds). Babies who are born too soon and too small are at increased risk of newborn health problems, such as breathing difficulties, and lasting disabilities, such as mental retardation and cerebral palsy. Women with poorly controlled asthma also are more likely to develop preeclampsia, a pregnancy-related form of high blood pressure that can result in poor fetal growth and other pregnancy complications.

About 70 percent of people with asthma have allergies. Fortunately, if a woman is already receiving allergy shots, she can safely continue them in pregnancy. However, women should not start allergy shots for the first time during pregnancy because of the slight risk of a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.

Luckily, most asthma medicines are safe in pregnancy. A pregnant woman should never stop her asthma medicine without the advice of her health care provider because persistent or worsening asthma symptoms can pose a risk to her and her baby. Want to know more?  Read our info on asthma and pregnancy, symptoms,  common triggers and how to avoid them, treatments, and medications during breastfeeding.

Cleaner air helps children breathe easier

Friday, March 6th, 2009

barn-smallAir pollution can lead to inflamed airways, which can cause breathing problems such as asthma.

It makes  sense:  When the air is cleaner, children breathe easier. An article in the March issue of the medical journal Pediatrics reported these research results.

So what can parents do to help their children breathe the cleanest air possible? Moving to the country where the air is clean is a good idea. But that’s probably hard for most of us!

Here are some tips:

* When local health agencies issue air pollution or smog alerts, keep your child indoors. If you must take your baby out on these days, do so early in the morning or after sunset.

* Don’t use paint sprayers around your child.

* Keep air conditioning units, heaters, furnaces, wood stoves and fireplaces in good working order.

* If your baby has asthma or other lung problems, ask her health care provider what else you can do.

For more ideas, read the March of Dimes article Protecting Your Baby from Air Pollution.

Children most vulnerable to secondhand smoke

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Nearly half of all children in the United States are exposed to secondhand smoke each week, according to a new survey by three prominent institutions.  Even though we have come a long way in reducing second hand smoke over the past decade, the Social Climate Survey of Tobacco found that 4 out of every 10 children are exposed to secondhand smoke each week.

We have the power to make changes that protect our children and it certainly is within our children’s best interests to eliminate secondhand smoke exposure.  Babies who are exposed to smoke suffer from more lower-respiratory illnesses (such as bronchitis and pneumonia) and ear infections than do other babies. Babies who are exposed to their parents’ smoke after birth also may face an increased risk of asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). And the danger starts even before a child is born.  Studies suggest that babies of women who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy may have reduced growth and may be more likely to be born with low birthweight.  Pregnant women should avoid exposure to other people’s smoke.

Various studies have concluded that secondhand smoke is just as dangerous as cigarette smoking.   If you’re a smoker, visit this site and try making quitting your New Year’s resolution.