Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Anaphylaxis 101: Get the Facts, Be Prepared

Karen was pruning a wayward philodendron plant when she broke out in hives and had a difficult time breathing. It was the first time anything like this had happened to her so she washed her face and waited for symptoms to subside. She didn't know she'd just had an anaphylactic reaction or that her frightening symptoms, while short-lived, could have been life-threatening. She didn't think to notify her doctor but decided to stay away from the plant in the future, just in case it was causing these symptoms.

Karen's story is not unusual. Many of us are not aware that hives; swelling; rashes and difficulty breathing; nausea and vomiting; and severe gastric pain can all be symptoms of anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition. Rather than go through life in fear of the unknown or next episode--get the facts.

AANMA is partnering with EpiPen this holiday season to make families aware of what steps to take if an anaphylaxis emergency take place. Most anaphylactic reactions are rather dramatic and scary. Knowing what to do ahead of time is important. And because EpiPen has recently introduced a new design (with very simple instructions), you'll want to take a moment now to get the details.

Be prepared. Refill your prescriptions before the holiday rush gets away from you. And don't forget to ask family members to review the website before the holidays as well!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Perfect Presents and Last-Minute Dashes

It’s a white Christmas in the Washington, D.C. metro area – which is relatively rare. Having lived here all my life, I only remember a few, and they all involved blizzard conditions. I remember being a gawky 11 year-old and stepping through knee-deep snow across our front yard to Kathy’s house to play Barbies when suddenly I plunged into a drift so deep that only my head and arms and the yellow Barbie-doll case stuck out.

This snow is photo-perfect--but driving? Impossible. Even now with the roads plowed, perils abound. There’s the black ice. The cars that didn’t scrape the 20 inches of snow off their rooftops, sending the snow flying like a missile onto the cars behind them. The scarcity of parking spaces. The lines at the gas stations.

So, hunkered down with my hot decaf coffee, I finished my Christmas shopping online and found a great website with a few functional funsies for the people on your list with allergies:

The Spoon Sisters has the CUTEST little "Dust Bunny" microfiber dusting mitten. I love the microfiber dust cloths I use at home, but this one was way too cute. He’s (or she’s) machine-washable and one-size-fits-all. Ordered one for my daughter, Brooke, who loves bunnies but hates dust (and dusting – don’t we all).
It’s easy to find plenty of washable and adorable stuffed toys for little ones, but I love this wild and zany book, "Stupid Sock Creatures – Making Quirky Lovable Figures from Cast off Socks." They don’t mention the author’s name in the write-up – but someone really ought to do something about that, because these critters are simply too fun to pass up. And since they're socks, they're washable--which is a must for dust-mite control.

Now, to make sure that dust mites have no interest in orgies (yes, all they do is eat, poop, have sex and babies) the key is to control indoor air humidity. (Get a hygrometer from the hardware store; indoor air humidity should be between 35-50% but no higher.) But to de-nature the body part and fecal matter or little live wires still clinging to life, make sure you wash clothes in a product such as The Ecology Works Anti-Allergen Solution Laundry Detergent. One 40-oz. bottle washes 40 loads and is 100% biodegradable, plant-based and free of perfumes. You can even wash clothes, Stupid Sock Creatures that you make, washable stuffed toys and the Dust Bunny in COLD water! No need to turn up your water heater and gas or electric bills, buy a new washing machine (unless you need one) simply to rid your washables of dust mites. Check it out at

If you want these items in time for Christmas, move on it today! Or draw a picture, print out the website page, wrap it in a box and put it under the tree--but these are gifts that can be truly appreciated.

And please have a great time with your family and friends!

Happy Holidays!

By way of disclosure, AANMA does not endorse any products or manufacturers and was not paid to mention the websites or products mentioned in this blog post.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pleasie No Cheezie; Cheapie Makes Wheezie

I as watching HGTV recently and saw a tip segment that recommended using cheesecloth as cheap air filters -- you place the cheesecloth behind ventilation grills in your house. I checked around online and found a lot of little tipster blogs recommending the same thing.

Trouble is, it’s bad advice for a number of reasons. Your home’s heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system controls the quality of the air circulating through your home -- and ultimately into your lungs and bloodstream. It's true: You are what you breathe! So changing or cleaning your air filter on a regular basis should be Priority No. 1.

Second, a well-maintained system costs less to operate than one clogged with bacteria-laden dust! A dirty system forces motors, fans and coils to wear out faster than one a system that gets an annual or biannual check up. You can buy maintenance contracts that cover parts and service from reputable HVAC companies.

Third, if you don't use the right type of filter for your system, or if you neglect to clean the filter or to maintain the unit properly, you could void your warranty. Then you're looking at BIG money that you would not have needed to spend.

And finally, you never, no not ever want to impede the flow of air to any vent in your home, in any manner. That means no cheesecloth, furniture, cardboard or other obstruction should get anywhere near the floor or wall registers that allow air to flow into a room or the return vents (these are where the air inside the room gets sucked back into the HVAC unit, filtered and then sent through the ductwork to the floor or wall registers completing its circuit). This not only creates the problems described above -- it can alter the distribution of air, making it damp or cold in some rooms while others are too hot.

With the holidays upon us, the turkey and ham in the oven, the kids running in and out of the house, friends and family joining the throng – we want and need to breathe clean air. Nothing cheezie, please!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Gift to Remember

A Gift To Remember

So you’ve been crunching the holiday budget and need to cut back on spending here and there. Join the crowd. Cut back on junk food, use coupons and carpool but do not ration or skip medications or dodge your asthma action plan!

Would you want to receive a gift from your parents knowing they can’t afford their high blood pressure, diabetes or heart medications? Would you want a gift from your brother if you knew he didn't refill prescriptions for your niece and nephew?

Gifts that mean the most come from the heart, not the wallet. Your family and friends would rather you give the gift of health to your children or yourself. They might also empty photo album with a promise to help organize the photos to go inside. Or try a homemade voucher redeemable for babysitting, washing the car, taking out the trash, folding laundry or running errands. Try posting this blog on your FaceBook or Twitter pages and help friends with asthma and allergies discover many helpful resources and support.

Make this a holiday you’ll remember because of what you and your family and friends enjoyed together rather than what you gave or got.

Take care, Nancy Sander