Back to School

It’s that time of year again! The time that kids dread and parents can’t wait for: back to school. These first few weeks are stressful enough as it is, but for those with children that have asthma or a food allergy it can be a down-right nightmare!

Here is a brief overview of an article about dealing with food allergies in the Fall 2011 edition of Allergic Living magazine called “What Teacher Must Know” by Maria Acebal. Note: this is just an outline- be sure to check out the full article for more in-depth information!

5 Things to Tell School Staff About Food Allergies:

1. Food allergies are a growing health concern in schools across the country.

2. Allergic reactions can be fatal

3. Strict avoidance of the food is the only way to prevent an anaphylactic reaction.

4. Early recognition of symptoms and prompt intervention saves lives.

5. Epinephrine is the recommended treatment for anaphylaxis. Than call 911.

Did you know that this time of year sees a 46% increase in asthma-related emergency department visits by grade school children? For those dealing with asthma, a new classroom can harbor many harmful triggers to be mindful of- from that cute class hamster to the cold and flu viruses that your new classmates may have to the dust mites in the carpet. Being properly informed and trained by an allergist and using helpful tools like this Asthma Action Plan can cut down on the 14 million school day absences due to allergy and asthma in children.

Here are some additional helpful online tools:

For more information, to take a self-relief test, or to find an allergist visit http://www.AllergyAnd

For a Back-to-School Kit with free tools concerning food allergies visit

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Spacers and Valved Holding Chambers

The main disadvantages to using a pMDI is that a portion of each “metered-dose” is deposited into the back of the throat and into the nose, and they require a fair amount of coordination. Both of these problems can be greatly reduced by using a spacer or a valved holding chamber (or VHC).

No, these are not something found on a NASA experiment. They are both devices used to assist those that experience difficulty using a pMDI. A spacer is a tube made of plastic or metal that adds space and volume between the pMDI and your mouth, improving direction and deposition of the medicine. A valved holding chamber is a spacer but with a one-way valve that traps and suspends the medication giving you several additional seconds to inhale slowly and deeply.

By slowing down the particles emitted from the pMDI more of the medicine makes it into the lungs instead of the back of the throat, providing optimal drug delivery and making it much more effective. It is more cost effective too because less medicine is wasted, and in this day and age few can afford not to be conscientious of their spending.

According to the spacers and valved holding chambers article in A Patient’s Guide to Aerosol Drug Delivery (produced by the American Association for Respiratory Care) disadvantages to using a spacer or VHC include that they are “large and cumbersome compared to the pMDI alone; more expensive and bulky than pMDI alone; Some assembly may be needed; Patient errors in firing multiple puffs into chamber prior to inhaling or delay between actuation and inhalation; and possible contamination with inadequate cleaning.”

Here at Alliance Tech Medical, we offer products that cut down on these disadvantages. We have the BreatheRite Chambers that come in two styles: the rigid and the collapsible (a more compact, portable option making it much less “cumbersome”). No assembly is needed with these products and the pMDI is easily attached to the device. We also carry the Vortex Non-Electrostatic Holding Chamber which is made of metal, eliminating the static charge that holds small particles to the sides of the chamber and interferes with drug delivery. The LeverHaler is holding chamber that is ideal for the elderly, arthritic, and children. This device has a lever-actuator which increases leverage and improves coordination. We also have other options geared toward children. The Funhaler is a small volume spacer that gives positive reinforcement and encourages deep breathing, and is suitable for children 18 months and over. Masks are another product we offer that assist in providing optimal drug delivery in both children and adults. Check out our website for more information on these great products at


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Attack of the Cedar

Did you know that the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) has a Pollen and Mold Report counter that will tell you the amount of allergens in the air on that particular day for your general area? It’s broken down into 4 categories: Trees, Weeds, Grass, and Mold. Out of curiosity I checked out the Waco (Station 1), TX area which shows a High-Concentration of Tree allergens. Now those of you non-Texans out there may be wondering what would be causing Tree allergens in the dead of winter. Most Texans on the other hand can tell you exactly which tree is to blame for this, and usually in some pretty colorful language (if my family is any indicator). The Cedar Tree.

A member of the cypress-juniper (Cupressaceae) family, the cedar tree grows naturally mainly in Central Texas, as well as smaller favorable areas of Texas, New Mexico, northern Mexico, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. This pesky tree pollinates from November through March-ish, January usually being smack dab in the middle of the heaviest pollination. It is an evergreen tree with grey-brown shredding bark, and has male and female plants. The males would (of course) be the pollen producing problem plant and have several reddish-brown cones 3-4 mm in diameter, while the females produce small blue-green berries. According to the People Against Cedars website (where most of this information is coming from), the Cedar tree is a plague with “no redeeming value: it is poor firewood, it is poor landscape plant, it is a poor source of food for native animals and it is poor wood for construction.” It also takes over valuable farm and ranch land quickly, and to top it all off this tree also soaks up more than its fair share of water – which is quite the commodity in Texas.

Symptoms of what is sometimes called “Cedar Fever” doesn’t include an actual fever, but plenty of itchy, runny nose, sneezing, nasal blockage, excess tearing and itchy eyes, fatigue, headaches, facial discomfort, sore throat, and ear plugging. With this pollen being so excessive in these areas you can’t avoid it completely but here (and here, hint: scroll towards the bottom) are a few steps to reduce its effects. Consult your doctor if you believe this sounds like something you’re suffering from.

I’m of a mind that these trees would serve us much better as pretty Fireplace mantles or chest/closet/trunk liners, but until everybody jumps on the Anti-Cedar Tree Bandwagon this is just one more allergen for people to contend with. Check back with us in the next few weeks for more allergy & asthma tips, advice, and general information. Until then you can always check out our website for more great information and products!

Sources: (Only one on this blog, which may seem odd but there is a ton of great info throughout this site)

People Against Cedars;

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Exercise-Induced Asthma

“Never tell your resolution beforehand,

or it’s twice as onerous a duty.”

-John Selden

So how many out there have getting fit/ exercising more at the top of your New Year’s Resolution list? Well you are certainly not alone; lists getting fit as one of those resolutions that are popular year after year. Not that much of a surprise huh? What may come as a surprise is the number of people that suffer from Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA), also known as Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB).

Symptoms of EIA include wheezing, tightness of chest, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain (rare, but not unheard of). Now some of these symptoms can be attributed to being out of shape and doing more than your body is accustomed to, but the time of onset is different. Trouble breathing for those with EIA generally occurs 5-20 minutes after the start of exercise, and/or within 5-20 minutes AFTER exercise. Talk to your doctor if this sounds like something you’re struggling with.

Here’s a fun fact: according to WebMD, one out of every 6 athletes in the 1996 Olympic Games had EIA.  It certainly does not mean you have to put an end to that get fit resolution if you are diagnosed with this, just keep these few things in mind. Activities that involve short intermittent periods of exertion are more tolerated than activities that involve long periods of exertion. For example choose volleyball, gymnastics, baseball, walking, and wrestling instead of soccer, distance running, basketball, or field hockey. Also steer clear of cold weather sports like ice hockey, cross-country skiing, and ice skating. Swimming, on the other hand, is a great sport due to the warm, moist environment. Follow your doctor’s advice and treatment plan, and be diligent with warming up and cooling down.

Also try to steer clear of strenuous exercise when you have a viral infection, if the temperatures are low, or pollen and air pollution levels are high. This is great example of when an asthma action plan and monitoring with a Peak Flow Meter would be very useful. Be sure to check out the sources below, there is a TON of great information out there. More than one little ol’ blog can contain. Be sure to comment below if you have any other tips for those with Exercise-Induced Asthma! And as always, check out our website for more information about our products (like the Mini Wright Peak Flow Meter).


“Exercise-Induced Asthma: Overview.” National Jewish Health.

“Tips to Remember: Asthma and Exercise.” American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.

“Exercise-Induced Asthma.” WebMD.

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Wintertime Triggers, Part 3 of 3

Hello everyone, hope you all had a safe and wonderful Christmas! Here is the final installment of our 3 part series about Wintertime Asthma & Allergy Triggers. In the previous posts we covered the seasonal weather related triggers (including the cold weather itself, cold viruses and infections, and exercising outside), and the Holiday season related triggers (like air fresheners, food allergies, and Christmas decorations). Now we’re going to go a bit more in depth about triggers lurking indoors like pests, pets, and dust mites.

Pests (we’re talking of the varmint and insect variety, not of the “5 year old nephew hyped up on major sugar overload” variety) can attack even the cleanest of homes and include unwanted rats, mice, and roaches- just like you they are trying to escape the blistering cold winter winds. Rats and mice (like any furry critter) produce allergens like dander (dead skin flakes) and urine. Cockroach droppings contain a protein that is a main trigger of asthma symptoms. The fix: call the exterminator (but don’t let them hear the panic in your voice, their prices usually correlate to your level of hysteria), keep food crumbs to a non-existent minimum, and block any cracks/crevices where they may be gaining entry.

Next up is man’s best friend: pets. It’s a common misconception that it is the fur causing those allergic reactions, but it is actually the allergen found in the dander, saliva, and urine of your little furry friend. The fix: find Fido and Fluffy and new loving place to call home, or confine them to the great outdoors. If that isn’t an option then at the very least keep them out of the bedroom- where you spend most of your time, and off furniture. Also have someone else wash and brush them weekly.

Dust mites are tiny bugs that live in dust, and like cockroaches their droppings are a common allergy & asthma trigger. The fix: Don’t provide them a space to flourish. Cover mattresses and pillows in airtight covers. Use this as a reason to get rid of that worn out carpet and replace it with those beautiful hardwood floors you’ve been dreaming of. Wash bedding and curtains in hot water every week or so and dry in HOT dryer. Also simplify and remove clutter that collects dust, and dust weekly with a damp cloth (it’s also recommended to wear a dust mask when doing so). And vacuum often.

The triggers discussed in these 3 posts are the more common, but don’t include all of the threats. Be sure to talk to your doctor about allergy testing to find out what YOU need to watch out for. Did we miss any important triggers/information about the ones listed? Be sure to let us know below and we will remedy that in a jiffy!

Dinnall, Alres. RN, M.Ed. “Breathe Easy This Winter!”
Asthma. Web. 17 Dec. 2010. <;
Bouchez, Colette. “Breathe Easily: Winter Asthma Advice.”
WebMD. 13 Nov. 2007. <;
Seidman, Howard. “Asthma Triggers Lurk Indoors in Winter.” 10 Nov. 2008. < item/Asthma+Triggers+Lurk+Indoors+in+Winter?archiveChannel=Home/Article&clicked=true>
Unknown. “Handling the Holidays.” Coping with Allergies & Asthma Nov 2010: 8-10.
Frea, Rick. “Watch Out For These Four Cold-Weather Asthma Triggers.”
HealthCentral. 30 Nov. 2009. <>
Dr. Rob. “Wheezing in a Winter Wonderland.” MSN Health & Fitness. 16 Nov. 2006.
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Wintertime Triggers, Part 2 of 3

“…But the fire is so delightful.”

Hello, and welcome to Part 2 of the 3 Part series about Wintertime allergy & asthma concerns. This post is going to focus mainly on Christmas and Holiday related triggers, because we are rapidly approaching that time of the year! Very rapidly. As in “4 short days from now” rapidly.

Well, if you “cook” anything like I do and frequently turn to candles and aerosol sprays to cover up the aroma of your most recent charred disaster you might want to consider any asthmatic guests before blasting the air with dangerous chemicals or lighting the wick/fuse of a soot and smoke producing mini bomb. The fix: think green. Here’s a few ideas from Oregon Environmental Council in their article “Safer Scents: Air freshener alternatives:” pomanders (clove filled oranges), simmering pots, and odor absorbing houseplants (see this article for more info). If you’re “domestically challenged” and can kill the hardiest of plants then you can give them as gifts after they have served their purpose.

Another potentially dangerous trigger as far as guests are concerned is food allergies. According to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, only 4% of the population have food allergies (that’s 1 in 25, or 12 million Americans), but the incidence is highest in young children (1 in 17 among those under age 3) and result in over 300,000 ambulatory-care visits a year. So take that into consideration to avoid a harrowing ride in the Band-Aid Buggy during “the hap-happiest season of all.” If your guest list is short just ask each guest, and write any down if they do so you can avoid preparing anything potentially hazardous. If you’re one of those brave souls inviting half the town, then be sure to label each dish with the name and ingredients. If you’re a guest tell your host/hostess ahead of time, or offer to bring allergen-free dishes, and have your epinephrine injection kit with you at all times.

Next up is for those Christmas decorators out there, even those who don’t deck the halls in full-blown Clark Griswold style. Live Christmas trees are covered in triggers- from the molds growing on the bark, to all that leftover pollen. The alternative is an artificial tree but (along with the ornaments and decorations) they can be covered in both mold and dust thanks to being stored for a year. The fix: pack decorations and tree in an air tight box (not cardboard) that can be sealed tightly. When you go to unpack them, let them air out first either outside or in the garage, and dust them off thoroughly before bringing them inside.

I will leave you with one final thing tip: most clinics and Doctor’s offices have irregular business hours during the holidays, so double check your medicine cabinet and stock-up before hand. Check back with us on Thursday for the final installment of this series!

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Wintertime Triggers, Part 1 of 3

“Oh the weather outside is frightful…”

Welcome to part one of a 3 part series about wintertime allergies and triggers. For those of you saying “now wait a minute I thought you only had to really worry about triggers during the Spring and Summer?!” well I’m about to burst your bubble. But there is a silver lining in this message because I’m going to tell you what to look out for and how to reduce if not eliminate the cause. This post is a little wordy but stick with it, there’s some good information throughout.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Speaking of frightful cold weather, you folks in the North have been seeing plenty of that in the past few weeks! Did you know that the cold weather itself is considered a formidable trigger? When you inhale a blast of cold air your airways respond by going into bronchospasm- a fancy word that means they contract and narrow. You can attribute that to the severe temperature difference between that cold air and the inside of your body. Now for the fix (which is actually quite simple): wear a scarf over your nose & mouth. When you breathe out through the cloth it catches moisture, when you breathe back in it warms the air and makes it moister. Now for those of you in the negative degree weather you might need more help than a little ol’ scarf. Luckily for you there is a heat exchanger mask that is specially designed to warm up that cold air (look for it in some sporting goods or medical supply stores).

Next up on the list is closely related to the cold weather: cold viruses and infections, which can trigger a major asthma event especially in young children. Chest tightness, wheezing, and other asthma symptoms usually won’t respond as quickly to asthma medications, and last longer when paired with a respiratory infection. This time of year also increases your chances of coming in contact with a virus/infection due to the increase of travel and family gatherings. The fix(es): You can either become a hermit during the holidays, or take the necessary precautions: get your flu vaccination if you haven’t already, wash your hands often and correctly (scrub well with warm water and soap for at least 15 seconds), and avoid touching your face (the point of entry for those nasty little germs). Also try to avoid those who are sick- something that can come in handy as an excuse if you’re trying to avoid your overbearing in-laws.

This next one is for those health conscious folks that are exercising outside. Now I’m not saying you should give up that head start on your New Year’s resolution, but be mindful of your asthma and how your body is responding to the cold, dry air on top of the strenuous activity. We’re going to go straight to the fix on this one because most of the cold air effects have already been covered. First off, pre-medicate yourself 15-30 minutes before beginning activities that can cause your asthma symptoms to worsen and warm up indoors. Talk to your doctor about what medication is right for you & be sure to take your medication as directed. Also keep your rescue medication with you. For those days that are particularly cold and frosty work-out indoors. If that sounds too boring for your tastes, try an indoor sport like ice skating or hockey. Next, wear a scarf or mask, and avoid running/jogging/walking along busy roads or where outdoor pollution can further irritate your symptoms.

Be sure to check back with us tomorrow for Part 2: triggers that are linked directly to the holidays (foods, scents, and all those pretty, shiny decorations).

Sources will be provided in Part 3.

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