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The Asthmatic Child

Do you have an asthmatic child?  Have you been able to help your child better manage the condition?  Elizabeth would love to hear from you.  She emails:

I am looking to connect with other folks that have kids with chronic respiratory challenges. My son has been identified as opportunistic asthmatic. It is not allergen-based but more when his immune system is lowered or when he has some other virus, cold etc. I am trying to manage this condition and would love to hear how others deal with the challenges with medicine, inhalers, reactions to medications, hyper-activity etc. It seems like a constant cycle and I would love some perspective.


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I have found some good info on the Yahoo group "Families Dealing With Asthma". We also had a huge turnaround when we started seeing a pediatric pulmonologist rather than just our pediatrician. His office is able to get us in at critical times rather than waiting for an appointment 7 hours later. It's a really small office that doesn't have a waiting room full of sick kids, the nurse quickly got to know us, they return calls promptly and give lots of great phone advice. I've also heard of insurance companies paying for you to see an "asthma educator" but we haven't tried that. We found our happy place once we started using inhaled steroids every day and being more careful about avoiding her triggers. We have also found that at each step along the way - each doc visit, each ED visit, they all assumed that someone else had educated us. So we just keep asking questions and more questions and ask for advice all the time. There are a million books out there too. The first 6 months after our diagnosis were the worst but now we really have a handle on it and things are looking better for us. Once you start talking to people you'll hear a million stories about people with asthma that doesn't really affect their lives - like me! Hopefully we'll quickly get our kids to that point and all will be good. Good luck to you.

we have a very asthmatic little girl (set off by illness, weak immune system, severe allergies, etc...) and i'm just starting to navigate the process of management. it's overwhelming and frustrating! i would be so interested in hearing other people's stories... maybe even start some kind of group (in real life or virtual).

I am also interested in forming a group. Like the Yahoo group that I mentioned but local? Not necessarily on Yahoo. Not that I have spare time but this is a huge part of our lives. We might as well share resources. I've certainly logged a lot of hours trying to figure it all out.

thanks Sarah & Rae ann- I am looking into the yahoo site (I never remember my yahoo account info...) We have a pediatric pulmonologist but because my son doesnt have asthma that comes from excercise or allergens I end up just having to watch the normal colds etc to decide when to see the pediatrician vs when to see the pediatric pulmonologist. I find the PP always just puts him on inhalers. We have had some awful experiences on inhalers with behavioral issues. We are currently on xopenex/flovent/singular. We do the "blow test" every am/apm. (he blows into a tube that measures his output- not sure of the correct name for this. I track his general output this way via an excel spreadsheet)
I am trying to head off another hospitalization but also just ride out the normal cold/cough that comes this time of year. Its hard because I feel like so much of this is "wait and see" and then to get him breathing at 100% we go on an inhaler. It is so tiring to watch a cold turn into a breathing issue, then do the drugs and anticipate the reactions (hyperness) that many of the inhalers cause. I am getting a little more used to the symptoms now that we are about 1 year into this. Anyway I am glad to see there might be some other folks that can share their experiences. Thanks for your suggestions. I am very open to connecting either real time or virtually.

my daughter is now four. this time last year was her first trip to urgent care because she'd briefly passed out and was using her stomach muscles to aid her breathing. after that, we were at urgent care (once with a referral to the ER via ambulance) approximately every other month for a few months. at first, no one even called it asthma. then everyone was calling it asthma, with no one actually explaining anything to me. her attacks had only been triggered by certain colds. she was getting colds almost every month and i was so worried.

i started realizing what questions i needed to ask, and what her patterns were, and i realized the meds they were using at urgent care were the same we had at home, just in higher doses, so i could treat the attack at home. we've only had one attack since then, and it was a few months ago, maybe even six months. she has been sick less this past winter, as well, thankfully.

we did see an allergist, and i finally have a pediatrician for her (we were between peds when she started having the attacks). i think the good thing about this type of asthma is that is less likely to sneak up on us, we only have to be on alert when she's sick and she's usually closer to home at that time anyway.

Hi there all, I would also love to join a support group via yahoo. I'll work on that and post it here if I do.

My little guy is 4 years old and has a combination of allergy and opportunistic asthma. We went to our pedetrition when it started at 2 years and she prescribe flovent though it did help some but his cough and wheezing kept up for months so she prescribed a type of steroid inhaler. We chose to not start the steroid inhaler and try to manage his health holistically.

We chose to take him off the inhalers because research shows some alarming studies about long term use. Asthma runs in our family and I have seen my brother use steroid inhalers and have seen his struggle with their effects which include horrible tooth decay, weight problems, and constant nervousness.
So we try our best to avoid my son's allergy triggers (cut grass, cats, mold) and we have changed his diet to boost his immune system so that when sick seasons come he is better able to battle the effects. So very little dairy, little wheat when possible and daily immune and vitamin boosters. We seem to being doing well, if he starts to show signs we make him take a long hot shower with lots of steam and make sure he relaxes, we use honey as a cough suppressent which does seem to help. And so far in 2 years we have only use the flovent inhaler twice. But it's a day to day challange that we are still trying to get him out of. Oh and we see a naturopath that helps with choice of immune supplements.

Yes, I should have mentioned that we also see a ND and use daily immune boosters, probiotics, vitamins, cod liver oil, lots of sleep and lots of dietary restrictions. She sees a chiropractor for craniosacral therapy to aim for improved immune system (specifically the ear infections). We keep her bedroom relatively bare and clean, have the allergy mattress cover, etc. Our focus is on avoiding triggers although she does go to preschool so obviously has all the colds. She also has several severe food allergies as well as lots of seasonal allergies and of course the asthma.

Her asthma is triggered both by the "virus of the month" as the pulmonologist calls it AND by her allergies. She also sees an Allergy/Asthma/Immunology doc - it's interesting to see how his advice compares to the pulmonologist (they know about each other of course).

Our gal is prone to Pneumonia - basically with each cold. If she has the start of a cold or tightness, using the nebulizer (Pulmicort) is more effective for her than the inhaler (Flovent or QVar). We rarely use the rescue inhalers - if she's sick enough to need those we are usually at home and use the neb instead. We prefer Xopenex. With the nebulizer, she just seems to get more in.

We tried Singulair for 6 months and it made her insane at first. It didn't seem to help either. The docs said that it wasn't the Singulair making her terrible but I found lots of parents who agreed with me. We noticed no change in her health when we discontinued the Singulair.

Of course the OraPred makes her insane each time too but we are able to use relatively small doses now that we've figured this out a little better. Now that we know to have it ready and start it soon - we don't let her get as sick and don't need it for as many days.

As for rescue meds, we have found that our little one tolerates Xopenex (nebulized or inhaler) fairly well but Albuterol throws her over the edge - no hope for rational behavior, eating or sleeping after that. However, having grown up on Albuterol, I totally understand why she acts that way!

I don't see any issues with her behavior on the daily inhaled steroid and haven't heard of that issue before - interesting. As for the negative side effects, I still have research to do but the docs all said that the benefit is worth the costs (for us anyhow). (BTW, Flovent is also a steroid).

When she's *really* not doing well, DuoNeb (Atrovent/Albuterol together) nebs usually keep us out of the ED. But a little FYI for those with peanut allergies - Atrovent inhalers (not the neb) have caused anaphylaxis in people with peanut allergies - it's not commonly known though, scary!

Our docs agree that our daughter *may* be able to stop the inhaled steroids for mid June through mid August. Even the ND agrees that the steroids are necessary for now. Before agreeing to stick with them long-term, we had several ED visits where they sent us home after several hours because she wasn't getting worse but they weren't doing anything to make her better that we don't have at home. Our goal this winter has been to avoid a hospitalization and we have, but barely. Several ED visits and way, way too many doc office visits but our little one has not had to spend the night at the hospital and we plan to keep it that way.

Diana, who is your ND and are you happy with the asthma aspect of your care there? Sorry for the long rambling post but as I mentioned earlier - this has become a large part of my life and something that I'm always thinking about. I look forward to hearing experiences from others and sharing ideas. It will be nice to compare notes locally since many of our kids are suffering from seasonal allergies. My daughter is actually doing well right now although my allergies are awful. Go figure.

Thanks everyone for the messages and good luck to you all.

I'm glad to see this post. It looks like my 2-1/2 year old daughter has opportunistic asthma (when she gets a cold). Last time we tried an inhaler which seemed to help. It's pretty early on for us so I don't have any advice yet but would be interested in joining the Yahoo group if that happens. It was so hard to watch her struggle to take a breath.

Thanks Moms!

Our son (22 mo) has an asthma reaction when he gets a cold. We were trying to control it with his albuteral inhaler -- we would start giving doses every four hours as soon as he started to show signs of a cold. I really wanted to be able to control it with the inhaler rather than relay on preventative medicine. But after three weekends in the emergency room and prednisone, our pediatrician suggested we start a preventative medicine. We chose to go with Singulair. I almost went with the inhaled steroid because it has been around longer and is better tested. But ultimately I chose Singulair, in large part because I asked the pediatrician and a couple of nurse friends which one they would give their kid, and they all said Singulair.

Since starting Singulair, our son has been so much better. In fact, we almost made it through the entire winter without any asthma episodes. He just got a new cold this past week and had an asthma reaction, but we gave him two doses of prednisone and he was fine the next day.

I was very nervous about starting a preventative med, but I am very glad that we did. Our guy has not had any problems with Singulair, so I guess we have been lucky. Also, our pediatrician calls our son a "happy wheezer" because while he is wheezing and working hard to breathe, he can still play and talk. So while Singulair has worked for us, that maybe because he does not have severe reactions.

When we were trying to figure out how best to manage this, our pediatrician had my husband and I come in for an appointment without our son, just so that we could talk about the options and ask questions and not try to manage a kid at the same time. I really recommend this. It was very helpful. I went in with a list of questions and concerns.

It's very scary when your kids first starts having reactions. After our first ER trip I was very confused. It wasn't until our follow-up appointment with our pediatrician the next week that I got some answers. I don't think the ER is equipped to educate -- you have to go to your primary provider for that.

Hang in there -- I will be thinking of you!

sorry -- one more thing -- our son was a monster on prednisone. He would be awake until midnight and then woke up at 5:30 am. And it was not a good awake -- it was a hyper manic awake. One of the major benefits of the prevenative medicine is that we are not having to deal with the prednisone high followed by the crash when he comes off it.

I'm interested too in making these connections. I am a naturopath (not for kids) and we do everything possible from a holistic perspective. I can't imagine what the situation would be if we didn't. Our son also gets asthma with viruses, and so far, knock on wood, it is only at that time. And yes, the meds for his acute attacks make him insane. I remember him standing up in his jammies at 11pm and throwing his head back and maniacally laughing. Too freaky. Keep me in the loop ladies.

Hi there again, I mistyped on my earlier post, we were first given albuterol,then flovent was given, the steroid. We chose not to try flovent and try to not use the albuterol. So every once in awhile we use the albuterol inhaler, not flovent. So thank you Sara for pointing that out. I was just on mothering.com and if you go to the link of listen to mothering, there is a podcast from an ND who discusses asthma and allergies.

We are very happy with our routine. It's very much about prevention for us. If I see my guy starting to itch his eyes or nose, we go inside and wash his face and clean his nose with warm salted water. We keep his chest warm with lots of layers, always a hood when it's cold. And we avoid milk and cold foods when he's coughing at all. We have never been to the hospital and we are so lucky...but it is so frustrating and you feel helpless, when you little one is suffering. It may be pretty hippy of me to say this but if you can still nurse or give the older child breast milk somehow in their food, this will boost their immune system tons.

Prednisone = crazy boy! My son is 2 and has had four or five courses of P in his life so far, each time making him a little crazier than the last. His asthma is also just the cold/virus induced kind (so far, anyway -- I grew up with the allergy and exercise induced variety, so I'm crossing my fingers his doesn't expand) so like in many of your posts, we shudder with each new cold that comes home from daycare. He's been on Singulair for over a year and I think it's helped a bit, but with the last few colds we've had success with aggressive Albuterol (at least every 4 hours when awake, inhaled with the mask at home, liquid at daycare) and with Chestal Honey (homeopathic cough syrup from New Seasons, but it's a major commitment: dose every 2 hours when awake). His pulmonory doc said I had it backwards when I theorized that his cough triggers more inflamation, but I really think that minimizing the cough keeps the wheezing from getting full-blown. Does anyone else have thoughts on the cough/wheeze relationship?

Massage often helps children with Asthma as it aides in their relaxation, and opening of the chest to more fully take in oxygen.

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