Preparing for asthma season

Here are my visual checklists for preparing for asthma / flu / cold season. Keep reading below for a more linear version.

Inhaler checklist Nebulizer checklist

If you are like us, you have an assortment of asthma paraphernalia:

    • A cheery and squat ProAir inhaler, in cherry red
    • An officious-looking orange Flovent inhaler, with cap and dose counter
        • But watch out, because we have had two identical Flovent inhalers, with different doses
      • A rather elegant and lean Ventolin inhaler, with its pricy dosage counter (why else would it cost 6 times as much to purchase as its simple ProAir cousin?)
      • A space-age cylinder that is the chamber for your spacer, with the blue rubber hole in which to insert the inhaler on one end and the strange tube that fits the mask on the other
      • A mask that fits the spacer chamber (apparently pediatric masks are required to have some silly animal on them, because ours has an orange duck)
      • One of the many, many varieties of nebulizer machines
      • The tangle of tubing that fits onto the nebulizer
      • The plastic chamber/pot to hold the liquid medicine for the nebulizer. This one is tricky because it is made up of several parts that are REQUIRED to make the nebulizer work:
        • A base, usually with little legs
        • Perhaps a small piece that fits into the base—this is easily lost but the nebulizer does not work without it
        • A lid, that keeps the medicine contained and passes the medicine onto the mask
      • The mask that fits with the nebulizer, with yet another silly cartoon animal (a purple elephant or a fish, in this case)
      • And let’s not forget the plastic capsules that hold your bronchiodilator (or steroid), with their twist-off ends
      • You may even have—as we did once—a solemn brown bottle with a dropper lid so that you could add a bronchiodilator to either a saline solution or your steroid capsule, mixing them in the plastic medicine pot of your nebulizer so that you do not need to big back-to-back nebulizer treatments to get both the steroid and bronchiodilator. This became obsolete for us once we switched to the inhaler + spacer chamber combination
      • Those of you dealing with allergy-induced asthma may also have an assortment of allergy medicine. We have:
        • An over-the-counter environmental allergy medicine (cytirizine hydrochloride, or generic children’s Zyrtec, in our case, although we have tried Claritin as well)
        • Prescription-only singulair
        • Children’s Benadryl, for reactions to thinks like bug bites

Is it any wonder that getting organized for asthma season can be difficult? I did not even include in this list the snot suckers, the saline, the tissues, the humidifiers, and all the other goodies that ease congestion but can’t be precisely categorized as asthma medication, nor the thermometers, etc., that go with being sick.

At the start of asthma season, I need to sort through each of the asthma medications with a few goals in mind:

  • Is all equipment properly functioning? This means:
    • The spacer chamber is intact with no cracks in the section connecting to the mask. Being clean is a bonus
    • The masks are all the appropriate size for my child’s current state of development (he actually had an infant-sized mask for his school inhaler…woops)
    • The nebulizer machine can still plug in and turn on
    • There are no strange kinks in the tubing that would prevent medicine from being used. Bonus points for having a backup set of tubing
    • The medicine chamber has all the appropriate components. My vote is for an extra set on hand as well, because these little parts get lost easily in the wash, particularly when your child is sick and you are distracted
    • All medicine is well within its expiration date
    • You have the correct dosage of all medicines
    • There is a sufficient stockpile of medicine to get you through several months

As I go through the medicine, I am sure to get rid of any expired and unused medications. The FDA has information on how to properly dispose of medicine here. I have several steps to try and keep us organized for the upcoming months. For example, I have a system of tracking active prescriptions. I have a special place where I keep any medicine or equipment that I might need to access in the middle of the night while groggy and not thinking clearly (e.g., thermometer, Tylenol, albuterol). I also label medications with the appropriate dose for the appropriate child. But this is content for another post.

How about you? How do you prepare your household for cold/flu/asthma season? Is there anything that I might have missed?