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Tips for getting the most out of your inhalers

“Darn! My inhaler is out and I am going to have to call today, a Sunday, to get a refill…”

Spring is here! And that means asthma season is back, and with the nicer weather, pollen counts are high. Flowers are wonderful and the trees beautiful, but if you are like me, some of those plants have your number. The beautiful smells come with itchy eyes, sneezes, and for some, a serious amount of wheezing.

Patients are reaching for their inhalers more often, and sometimes getting into serious respiratory trouble, especially if their medication is running short. Inhalers are expensive, too, and so using them optimally is both financially and healthfully important.

Fortunately, a couple of tricks can really help maximize an asthma spray’s value.

The medication comes out fast and hard when you squeeze the canister, and it can be difficult to time your breath to inhale the dose well, plus with the energy of the release being so high, a lot of misted drug can zoom right out of your mouth. The trick is to use a ‘spacer’, and the simplest is a rolled up piece of paper, to about a one inch diameter. Tuck the sprayer in the far end, wrap your lips around the outside of the other end, and take your leisure squeezing and breathing! The tube holds the mist in place for a few seconds, letting you better coordinate your inhalation and improve substantially the amount of drug you get to where it is needed.

The second tip is to use a steroid inhaler daily if you need your rescue inhaler more than a few times a week. The rescue inhaler will become less effective the more you use it if you don’t directly treat the inflammation of the allergic response in your bronchial tubes with a low dose of cortisone type medication. The dose of the latter is small and will not cause harm to the rest of your system if used according to directions, but it will keep your rescue medication most beneficial!

Two years in the life of the Swedish blog

For those of you who don't know, today is the official two year anniversary of the Swedish blog - this means Swedish has been blogging several times a week for two full years!

What have we been blogging about this year?

Who's been blogging?

We've had people from across Swedish blogging (more than 100 the last time we checked), including:

  • Surgeons

  • Nurses

  • Family Medicine and Primary Care Physicians

  • Dietitians

  • Educators

  • (And many others!)

Why are we blogging?

We started the blog as a way to connect with you (our community), whether you're a current patient, a past patient, a future patient…or just someone who stumbled across our site looking for health information. We believe our role is to be a resource of information, both online and off. Blogging gives us an easy way to keep you up to date, informed, and engaged on a number of health topics

MS Roadshow coming April 26 to Skagit Valley

The MS Center at Swedish Neuroscience Institute will present the MS Roadshow April 26 in Mt. Vernon, Washington. The MS Roadshow is a free, half-day educational workshop about living well with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Knowledge really is power when it comes to managing your health. For people living with MS, learning as much as possible about the disease makes it easier to make informed decisions about your care.

Whether newly diagnosed or looking for more information to help improve your health, the MS Roadshow offers a look at leading-edge research and tips for living a full life. Topics and speakers include:

Can stress cause a rash?

“Did my stress cause this rash?!”

A patient recently asked this question half-jokingly, but as we talked further about his life circumstances, he came to the answer of his own question. Issues between him and a loved one came tumbling out, his persistent unhappiness with the present state of affairs made it clear that yes, very much so, his stress is playing a role in his rash.

How can this be possible? And if it is true, that our mental states can give rise to very straightforwardly visible physical maladies, how are we to respond?

The interplay of our minds and bodies runs deep. The more time I spend in the practice of medicine, the more amazed I am at the powerful effects that run back and forth between the two poles of our being, the physical and the mental aspects of our selves. Physical events, such as broken bones, strokes, and degenerative disease strike ...

It’s National Nutrition Month! Eat Right - Your Way, Every Day

March is the month to celebrate healthy eating habits and Registered Dietitians everywhere making an impact on our nation’s nutritional health. Each year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promotes National Nutrition Month by selecting a theme to support Americans in making informed and sound decisions with their dietary intake. In 2013 the theme is Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day.

What does that this mean?

We are each unique individuals with different ethnicities, cultural practices and traditions, food preferences, and health concerns. These factors guide and influence our food choices on a daily basis. There is a common misconception that “eating healthy” means cutting out certain foods or feeling deprived. RD’s recognize that all foods can be healthfully incorporated into a well balanced, daily eating plan within a person’s energy needs.

National Nutrition Month at Swedish

In honor of National Nutrition Month, the Nutrition Services department at First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, and Issaquah has been featuring a nutrition booth in the cafeteria celebrating the health benefits of different country’s cultural cuisines. Swedish Registered Dietitians and Diet Technicians have been present each Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., providing healthful eating tips, handouts, and food samples from the featured country of the week!

The first week of National Nutrition Month highlighted foods from the Philippines. The native dishes displayed were Pompano and pinakbet:

10 things that doctors admire about their patients

Instead of only focusing on what patients need to do to improve their health, let's look at what they bring to a doctor’s appointment.

Here are 10 things that physicians love about their patients:

10. Their preparedness. One might think that doctors cringe when patients pull out “the list” of their concerns and questions. On the contrary: this adds great efficiency and still helps us to be complete in what we do. The last thing a doctor wants is for a patient to go home and worry about something they forgot to ask us.

9. Their self-discipline. I have seen many patients shed pounds, shake off cigarettes, trim down on alcohol consumption and put on those sneakers day after day. If I’m honest, I’d say that I myself exercise just so I can look these inspiring individuals in the eyes when we talk about fitness.

8. Their knowledge. I don’t always know the “latest and greatest” developments in medicine. My patients are well-informed, and not uncommonly alert me to something I need to research or bone up on. They are “iron sharpening iron.”

7. Their ...

How to deal with minor breakouts or major acne

Most of us experience acne at some point in our lives. It is most common in adolescents and young adults, but various forms can affect people well into adulthood. Knowing what you can treat with over the counter products and when to see a physician is the first step to improving acne.

The most common form of acne is comedonal acne and is characterized by whiteheads and blackheads. The next most common is inflammatory acne where deeper, pinker bumps appear on the skin. Milder cases of both comedonal and inflammatory acne can often times respond to over the counter (OTC) treatment with salicylic acid cleansers and topical benzoyl peroxide products. If you try OTC treatment for 6-8 weeks and see good benefit, you can avoid a trip to the doctor and keep using the OTC products.

More severe comedonal or inflammatory acne will commonly not respond to OTC treatment or get limited benefit. If a 6-8 week treatment trial with OTC products doesn’t control your acne, it’s time to see a doctor. There are...

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