Wizdy Pets Offers Fabulous Asthma Awareness App For Children

I was lucky enough to cross paths with the folks at Wizdy Games (formerly known as Wellapets) a few years ago.  This group is fantastically creative with a heart to educate children about health in a fun way.


So what is Wizdy Games?  Wizdy’s mission is to create virtual-pet games that can be leveraged to empower kids to manage their health and stay well.  Continue reading


AAFA Releases U.S. Spring Allergy Capitals™ Report

To say that winter has outlasted its welcome in much of the United States is an understatement, if judging by the complaints on social media.  I understand that even now, the first half of April, the northern half of our country is still experiencing snowfall!

Snow and Spring

Oddly enough, the extreme winter weather and cooler than normal temperatures have many Americans complaining of symptoms commonly related to the warmer allergy season.

The following is an excerpt from a recent press release from Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

“Nearly 45 million Americans are living with nasal allergies and 25 million have asthma,” says Dr. Clifford W. Bassett, Medical Director of Allergy and Asthma Care of NY and an Ambassador for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). “Allergy and asthma patients already have a chronic sensitivity to things like pollen, mold and other airborne allergens, but they can also be more susceptible to rapid changes in temperature, moisture and air quality,” says Bassett. “A blending of the winter and spring means these patients are at risk of multiple symptoms simultaneously.”

This fickle combination of spring and winter meteorological phenomena and extreme precipitation means an increased presence of mold in areas affected by all this moisture as well as intermittent tree pollination, all of which can trigger allergic reactions. “No matter what time of the year it is, and no matter what Mother Nature sends our way, people with allergies need to be prepared and proactive to avoid allergy misery,” says Dr. Bassett. “Now we have the ability to prevent symptoms before they even occur, but patients have to take the first step to visit their doctors and to get ahead of their disease.”

One readily available resource in getting ahead of environmental allergies is AAFA’s recently released Spring Allergy Capitals™ report.  The study ranks the 100 most challenging cities to live in with allergies in the United States. “It’s the 12th year for this report, and it’s a reminder that, no matter where you live or what the outdoor conditions are, people need to take allergies seriously and have a treatment plan,” says Mike Tringale, AAFA’s Senior Vice President for External Affairs.

Curious about the top allergy offenders?  The below Top 20 list is courtesy of AAFA.  Want more information on how your city and/or state ranks?  Visit the complete findings here.

Top-20:  The 2014 Spring Allergy Capitals™ (Full List of 100 Cities at www.AllergyCapitals.com)

2014 Rank  Last Year’s Rank  

Metro Area


Total Score
1 5 Louisville, KY 100.00
2 8 Memphis, TN 97.10
3 10 Baton Rouge, LA 91.93
4 9 Oklahoma City, OK 91.19
5 1 Jackson, MS 90.61
6 3 Chattanooga, TN 90.18
7 23 Dallas, TX 88.82
8 22 Richmond, VA 88.68
9 14 Birmingham, AL 87.71
10 4 McAllen, TX 87.61
11 7 Dayton, OH 86.52
12 6 Wichita, KS 85.47
13 43 New York, NY 85.46
14 34 Columbia, SC 84.96
15 24 San Antonio, TX 83.63
16 2 Knoxville, TN 82.80
17 16 Providence, RI 81.69
18 13 New Orleans, LA 80.99
19 21 Tulsa, OK 79.68
20 31 St. Louis, MO 79.50

Many thanks to Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and Mike Tringale for the above information and for their express permission to share it with you!

Money Can’t Buy Safety

To be a parent of a child with food allergies is to do the absolute best you can all the time to ensure your child’s safety.  Period.

To say, “do the best you can” is such an oversimplified statement of the dedication these parents (myself included) give to their families every day.  Their work is endless…finding safe foods, trying new recipes, keeping up with industry news, learning about new allergy tests and research studies.  The list goes on…and you see my point.

So, I get my feathers ruffled when a company or leader within the food allergy community implies or sometimes right- out verbalizes that I could be a better parent and do more to ensure the safety of my child if I would only (fill-in-the blank here) by using a product or service that will require lavish amounts of money with a “guarantee” that it might improve my family’s quality of life.


Many of my readers’ families have been on a food allergy and/or asthma journey for varied periods of time, but the result is the same, a wild and expensive ride.  We spend money on allergy testing (blood and skin), allergy-safe food, epinephrine, epinephrine carriers, antihistamines, breathing treatments, and much, much more.  These are the things our children need to survive.  It’s a matter of life or death, literally.  Many of us sacrificed more than we care to remember to do all of these things.  Yet we are privileged to be able to do so and to be able to care for our children’s immediate needs and we would do it again in a heartbeat.

We spend hours each week researching and studying to keep abreast of the latest industry news.  Is there a new epinephrine dispenser on the market?  Is it safe and effective?  How much will it cost compared to the brand I’m using now?  Is the new peanut allergy blood test so accurate that it can give you peace of mind for your child’s situation?  What is the new technology allergists are using in their offices today and is it right for my child?

We are proactive in keeping our children’s best interests at heart, with their safety first and foremost.   Any food allergy company or leader worth their salt knows this  about the food allergy/asthma parent.  Unfortunately, a few of them use this fact to capitalize on their own gain.

Many seasoned food allergy/asthma parents are used to seeing this push for bigger, better, and more expensive products and we know that talk is cheap and we proceed with due caution.  Parents just entering the world of food allergy and asthma don’t have that experience to fall back on and feel pressure that if they can’t provide that expensive product or service, they have failed their child and ultimately put their safety at risk.  And that just breaks my heart.

We all have our special indulgences, that one product or service we just feel we couldn’t live without.  But… you don’t have to buy the $50 box of twelve allergy-friendly chocolates.  Building a concrete house just isn’t affordable for parents of a child with asthma.  You can buy a plastic allergy warning bracelet instead of that 24K gold bangle.

To the companies and leaders today who tell parents of children with food allergies and asthma that they could be a better parent and do more for their child only if (fill in the blank with expensive and unnecessary), shame on you!  Mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and caregivers everywhere are dedicated to doing everything they can to ensure the safety and very best quality of life for their children and their families.  As fellow members of the food allergy and asthma community, we expect nothing less from you.

A Book Review: Feeding Eden by Susan Weissman

A week or two ago, I received an email from author Susan Weissman.  I’ll confess, that up until that moment, I had not heard of her.  Susan is the mother of a child with severe food allergies and asthma and Feeding Eden is her first book.

I don’t take my reviews of products lightly.  My first duty is to you, my reader, to provide my blunt and honest response when I am reviewing any kind of product, be it a book, food, or a website.

Another confession…I sometimes cringe when I’m asked to review a book because I fear that it will have wild, unfounded suggestions and claims that are so outrageous, you instantly understand why the food allergy community is so misunderstood.

Gladly, this was not the case with Feeding Eden.

Although I can’t say that all of her choices would be the same choices for my child and myself, Weissman actually recognizes that point of view in her book and ultimately encourages moms to do what is best for their personal situation.  I applaud her for not caving to the one-size-fits-all recommendations made in some food allergy literature.

There were moments where it was if Weissman’s own fears and feelings were so reminiscent of my own, it was as if she had a window into my soul.  She’s walked miles in the shoes of mothers of children with food allergies and asthma everywhere…she gets it.

Her introduction is titled, “Crazy” and was perhaps the chapter that hooked me…the moment when I knew she knew exactly how it felt to be a food allergy mom.  My of my favorite lines is, “When I try to tout my sanity to teachers and friends – ‘Oh, and I try not to get too crazy’ – Crazy laughs its a** off in the corner and continues to flit and fly all around.”  I think most of us have had this feeling of trying to play it calm, cool and collected when we feel anything but.

On her journey through a parade of dozens of pediatricians, specialists, therapists, and more I learned a lot…about myself, my son, and our own parade of physicians.  There are times when the detail was so overwhelming it would have been easy to begin skimming, but without giving away too much, I can only say the detail is there for a reason.  Read it and learn from it.

Weissman chronicles what it is like to be the mother of a child with food allergies and all the ups and downs that come with it.  Like many of us, I suspect, Weissman is resentful of her situation in the beginning.  She eventually makes peace with the situation and shares a rather poignant sentiment:  “I stopped wishing I were a different person…Instead of becoming invisible to myself, I could look directly into the eyes of other parents and think: somewhere, sometime, within the context of your own lives, you are me.”

Can you imagine how different the world might react toward the food allergy community if we all shared that sentiment?  Too often it is easy to get caught up in how “unjust” or “unfortunate” our own burdens are and we don’t stop to consider that another’s burdens, although different from our own, are just as consuming.

I especially loved Weissman’s blunt and open account of her feelings…it felt like a big hug from a fellow food allergy mom.  When I read the following, I teared up at the comfort and validation it gave me:  “Despite all our very best parenting efforts – vitamins, rest, sports, Ritalin, homeopathy, yoga, Claritin – there are mornings many of us parents will lean over our coffee cups and listen to the distant sounds of our children waking and wonder if today will be the day their head cold or indigestion or anxiety or adenoids or teething pains or leg cramps or some other weakness will get the best of them.”  She goes on to say, “We parents can’t make magic.  We can’t transform our children.  But we can heal with our touches, our words, and our love.  We can show them how to take their medicine.  When we do this, our children can save themselves.”


Bottom line:  Susan Weissman’s Feeding Eden was a lovely book written with intelligence, humor, and a rare candidness that will speak warmly to mothers of children with food allergies and asthma everywhere!

*Special Note:  All excerpts from the book are printed with express permission from the author.*