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Tracking expirations and counters

Have you discovered a way to prevent being caught using an empty inhaler or expired meds? Share your ideas with us. I have found a great app (free) for expire date reminders – expiry alert biz. I'm on the hunt for one to track inhaler counters. I may be able to use the same app. I look forward to sharing ideas!

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  • Jen

    Some inhalers have a counter on them.  I am curious to hear ideas for those inhalers that don't.

  • K8sMom2002

    Gigi, I think what you're asking is what are some ways to remind ourselves to actually CHECK the counter? because I don't always remember to. 

    One thing I've done for other meds (DD's prescription meds) is to count the days til the last dose, back up a few days and then put a recurring appointment on my Outlook or iPhone calendar. 

    I also have a habit of forgetting to take a med that I have to take late at night — it's some eye drops that I need to take my contacts out before I put the drops in. So I have a daily reminder on my iPhone that pops up at a certain time.

    I'm wondering if something like that would help — if you could put in a reminder on your phone to check your counter on, say, the inhaler on your nightstand at certain times of the month — maybe once every two weeks. 

    They're coming out with "smart" technology all the time. I'd bet that one day very soon, you'll be able to have an inhaler that will send you an alert to get a refill. 

    That's another thing that you might already have access to — does your pharmacy track your refill data? It may be that you can sign up for refill alerts from your pharmacy.

  • Kathy P

    Funny you should post this….I just saw this in my news feed….

    Propeller Health makes a . It doesn't say that it tracks remaining doses or reminds you to refill, but it it does track when you take it and you can record why. It connects with your phone.

  • K8sMom2002

    That's the one that I was referring to — it has recently received an that looks to be a long acting type as well. 

  • Brian Cushing

    I think that most do come with counters today. If they don't, a rough test is to fill a glass with water and then submerge the inhaler canister (only the canister, not the plastic delivery part) in the water with the outlet pointed downward. Loosely speaking, an empty or almost empty canister will float up high and turn sideways in the class, while one that has medication left in it will continue floating nose-down in the glass. A full canister will often be completely submerged. It's not very scientific, but I've used this test to help me decide when an inhaler is pretty much used up. 

    I try to keep my medications rotated so that the ones that are oldest get used first. Meds are so expensive today that I don't feel that I can throw any away. The jury is still out on whether a one year or even two year shelf life is appropriate for inhalers. Personally, I don't believe it, but I would study this point carefully. The government did a study on drug stockpiles that the military maintains; they found that many of the drugs they had on hand that were past their expiration dates were perfectly fine. I think it matters how they are stored and what they are. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Brian, I like your idea for rotating out meds! But do keep an eye on those expiration dates.

    As for the float test, on new meters, that's no longer recommended. 

    In , the researchers say the following:

    It has been suggested that floating an inhaler in water, known as a “float test,” can provide a measure of the inhaler’s useful contents … However, no universal flotation status accurately reflects when a device has reached the maximum recommended number of actuations … Moreover, this test is not only unreliable since some inhalers will float when they are full, it may damage the MDI by obstructing the metering valve.

  • GigiGibson

    The product is called the DOSER. It's awesome but $40. I think I'll get one in a few weeks when Christmas is behind me. It tracks doses per day and what's left so I could see how many times I used my rescue inhaler in a day. 

  • Brian Cushing

    That Propeller product looks very cool! The website doesn't explain much until you enroll, and I don't see costing info there. Do you need an Rx for this device? It would solve the issue of no counters on inhalers. 

  • Brian Cushing

    Just tried setting up an account at Propeller and they asked for a 'group' name. Sounds like this is a private service or something. 

  • Shea

    I carry an allergy bag with an extra (full) rescue inhaler, just on case I run out of mine or lose it. Then I always rotate it out when I get a refill so the new one is always in the bag. It has been a good system for me.

  • Brian Cushing

    Yeah, I always have a bag of fresh meds with me when I travel as well. I hauled a portable HEPA filter with me around China on a visit there! 

    I also never, ever leave the house without a rescue inhaler in my pocket!! 

  • K8sMom2002

    Brian, was China's air quality really bad when you were there? My DH and I traveled their in the early 2000s to adopt our DD — sometimes the air was just too hard for me to breathe. I can't imagine living there all the time. 

    Gigi, have you come up with a system to remind yourself about checking your inhalers for how many doses you have left? I ran across a free app that you might be able to use — . It's designed more for pills than inhalers, but I believe it has a way to program how many doses are in a bottle (or an inhaler) and then you just log when you take it. It will send you an alert. 

  • Kathy P

    Brian, I'd love to hear more about your travel to China too. My dh travels there for work frequently and I'd love to be able to go. But the air quality plus my food allergies makes me think it might not be a great idea.

  • K8sMom2002

    It's really an interesting looking device … I saw some links to clinical trials. When I get a chance, I want to look at those and see what they had to say.

  • Brian Cushing

    The air in China was horrific; in every city we visited (except for in the south), the pollution was as thick as fog most days. But, surprisingly, my asthma wasn't irritated by that kind of pollution – I was pleased about that. I did bring lots of meds and a portable HEPA filter along just in case. Mine is a Honeywell HHT011; it will give you about three air changes per hour in a standard hotel room – about 50 bucks on Amazon. It is small enough to fit in a large suitcase along with your other stuff. 

    Oh, and one other thing: if you have persistent asthma like me and you travel internationally, I highly recommend buying trip insurance to cover your trip. You probably have insurance at home, but if you (God forbid) have a flare in a foreign country that doesn't have single-payer nationalized insurance, getting treatment could be costly, and fighting your existing insurance provider to get them to pay for it may be futile. For a little over a hundred bucks, trip insurance will cover getting you out of where you are and to a hospital with reasonably professional facilities and staff. You will have to get a note from your doctor that you have not had a treatable flare for three months in order to be covered for asthma by your trip insurance. But I believe that this is money well spent.

  • K8sMom2002

    Brian, I remember the really weird smell that accompanied some of the air pollution we encountered — as well as how strange the sky looked, even at night. I guess it was the reflection of street lights off the smog. 

    Good tip about the trip insurance! I'm guessing you packed your air filter in your checked baggage?

  • Brian Cushing

    Yes, it was in my checked bag. The Chinese airport security checkpoints (which are FAR more intense than ours, by the way!) let it pass through without problems. 

  • Kathy P
    Brian Cushing posted:

    The air in China was horrific; in every city we visited (except for in the south), the pollution was as thick as fog most days. But, surprisingly, my asthma wasn't irritated by that kind of pollution – I was pleased about that. I did bring lots of meds and a portable HEPA filter along just in case. Mine is a Honeywell HHT011; it will give you about three air changes per hour in a standard hotel room – about 50 bucks on Amazon. It is small enough to fit in a large suitcase along with your other stuff. 

    That's great to know! I think I might be able to get one shipped/purchased there since DH has colleagues all over. That would avoid having to take it through customs. Hmmm….

    Oh, and one other thing: if you have persistent asthma like me and you travel internationally, I highly recommend buying trip insurance to cover your trip. You probably have insurance at home, but if you (God forbid) have a flare in a foreign country that doesn't have single-payer nationalized insurance, getting treatment could be costly, and fighting your existing insurance provider to get them to pay for it may be futile. For a little over a hundred bucks, trip insurance will cover getting you out of where you are and to a hospital with reasonably professional facilities and staff. You will have to get a note from your doctor that you have not had a treatable flare for three months in order to be covered for asthma by your trip insurance. But I believe that this is money well spent.

    That is a great tip! Always check your insurance coverage before an international trip. I've had to go to the ER twice on international trips – not asthma related! One was an infection in my eye (Australia) and the other was a broken wrist (Spain). I don't recall how things were managed in the Australian outback, but the hospital in Barcelona had an international relations person at the hospital who handled things. We had to pay the bill upfront and then they gave us the necessary paperwork for submitting through our insurance when we got home.

    An extension of this would be to find out how the medical system works. In Spain, we were asking for an "urgent care" type facility, but they don't have anything like that! We are not even sure what the place was that someone sent us to! But eventually, we wound up at an emergency room at the hospital – about 2 hours and several subway rides later! If that had been a breathing emergency, that would have been too long! So, make sure you know how to call for emergency help as it's different in every country. We always carry a cell phone that works in that country. Sometimes we've rented them, other times we've just bought a SIM card that will work in one of DH's demo phones (he has several demo cell phones for work).

  • Jen

    Brian – That dosing device does look like it could be helpful.  I just wonder how much it adds to the overall size of inhalers.  Just thinking of how bulky it might be when people are out and about.

  • K8sMom2002

    I'm thinking that as technology catches up, that we'll have more and more options like this. 

    Gigi, how's the tracking going?

  • Jen

    Has anyone else found anything helpful for tracking doses, expiration dates, etc?

  • Jimbb
    Kathy P posted:

    Funny you should post this….I just saw this in my news feed….

    Propeller Health makes a . It doesn't say that it tracks remaining doses or reminds you to refill, but it it does track when you take it and you can record why. It connects with your phone.

    This is  good idea. I wonder if my health plan might pay for them? Would I ask them directly or work through my son’s PCP?

  • K8sMom2002

    Maybe first check with your insurance company and see if they participate? Or talk with your son's PCP and see if their office will help you get set up?

  • Kathy P

    Jimbb have you checked into it more? 

    I saw your post in the welcome thread…I too have a 20 yo with asthma. Mine coughs all.the.time. And makes comments about her allergies/asthma being bad. The response to "did you take your meds" us usually "no, I should do that!". Ya think?

    Emerging adults are really a challenge!

  • Jimbb

    I have sicced the insurance company's nurse case worker on him….when I mentioned to him that he might get a call from them, he was cynical about what kind of help they would provide him. Maybe I will be surprised.

     

    We have to to change insurance companies July 1, so I am not going to invest a bunch of time in figuring out what I can get from them … I'll wait for the new one to come online in the summer. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Good plan, Jim! I was very pleased at the nurse who worked with us via my previous insurance — she offered great suggestions and encouragement and had tons of resources available. Sometimes it's easier for kids to listen to not-a-parent than parents.

  • Jen

    I definitely find that other adults can get through to my kids better than I can sometimes.