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Asthma? My son has it.


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My son, who is 8, was dx'd w/ asthma this year. He has bronchitis now and his asthma symptoms were so bad he almost ended up in the ER. He is on 2 diff. inhalers, anti-biotics, steroids, and cold medicine. I picked up his meds from the pharmacy and couldn't help but think he is coming close to the amount of meds I'm on. I ask his dr. questions, but i still feel like I don't know what constitutes an emergency or when I should call the doctor or when he needs his inhaler besides wheezing, and can he go outside and run and play. He is going nuts being stuck in the house but the dr. said he needs to be restful but didn't mention for how long. He is much better this morning. When I woke up this morning, he looked peaceful sleeping and breathing nice and normal.

It's really scary that I have had to have him sleeping with me so I can watch his breathing. I've had to wake him up in the middle of the night to give him his inhaler because he was breathing weird in his sleep. What if I was sleeping and he has an attack and I don't know?? i'm freaking out!

What I'm asking for is info. from people who have asthma or exp. w/ someone who has it. I don't even know if I'm spelling it right.

I really want to know if he is going to be able to play outside and be active. He is a very active child. He loves being outside alot of the time. He is not one of those couch-potatoe kids. He will stay outside most of the day. All the neighborhood kids come over to our house. I feel really bad. I don't know what to do. I know the dr. scared him the way she talked about how it is bad for your heart and other things. I had to talk to him about it. It's good I know my son well enough that I knew he was scared about what the dr. said because he would never say anything.

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Hey Mel,

I have asthma, and so does my younger brother, who is 13. When my brother was first dx'd, he couldn't play sports without having an attack (he LOVES soccer) and he wound up in the hospital on a ton of meds, including prednisone. But now he can play sports again, and he is only on two meds (pulmicort and zyrtec, and the latter is OTC). He just uses his rescue inhaler sometimes (but not much, as far as I can see) and when he is sick, he sometimes gets more prednisone. But I can say for sure, his life is a LOT more normal now than when he was first dx'd (around 4 years ago) and if I didn't know, I probably wouldn't guess he has asthma.

Anyway, asthma is really scary, both for kids and for parents, and it can take a long time to get it fully under control, but it can be done: my brother was in the same situation (almost the same age, too) and he is leading a normal life again. It just takes time and patience.

I agree with Blue - a peak flow meter might be a really good idea. You blow into it and it tells you how much air you can blow out. If you've been using it for a while, you get a feel for what your normal numbers are, and if your numbers start to drop, you know to up your meds/go to the doctor before things turn into a full-blown attack. I'm asthmatic, but I rarely wheeze, even when I'm having an attack, so my peak flow meter helps me to decide if I need to use my rescue inhaler or if I need to look at another cause (I have anxiety problems, which really complicates things in my case).

I'd guess that things seem especially bad because he is sick - I know with me, any infection I get goes straight to my lungs and I can't breathe for weeks. Nothing burns through asthma maintenance meds like a chest/lung infection, believe me. Probably once he has been on controller meds for a while, and isn't sick, he can be stepped down to less medication. If you look in my signature, you can see that my asthma cocktail is MASSIVE, but this is mainly because my asthma isn't well controlled at the moment. Once it is, I expect I will go down to less meds. In fact, my med cocktail is probably about the size of your son's, maybe a bit larger.

Asthma is one of those things with a learning curve. Right now, you don't really know what your son's "normal with asthma" state looks like, which is why you feel a little lost in terms of knowing what constitutes an emergency/a reason to call the doctor. At this point, you should probably call any time you're unsure if you should call. I think you'll find that over time, you'll need to call less and less. As you begin using a peak flow meter, and watching your son's asthma ebb and flow due to infections, exertion, good controller meds etc., you'll start to get a feel for what's going on. When I was first dx'd, I'd go to the doctor as soon as I felt something was even a little bit out of whack, but now that I have more experience, I tend to wait it out, and/or tinker with my meds myself. I know it's terrifying right now, but it will get less scary with time.

Also, if it helps, one of the signs of asthma exacerbation is WAKING UP short of breath in the middle of the night. Mostly, if you can't breathe, your body will wake you up. It's not like psych meds that can depress the breathing centers of your brain and kill you in your sleep - most probably the shortness of breath will wake you before you suffocate to death. If you have your son keep his rescue inhaler by the bed, he's more likely to wake up and take it than just suffocate in his sleep.

I hope that helped :) If there's anything specific you wanted to know, feel free to PM me/ask - I have asthma experience up the ass, and then some ;)

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Like anyone with bronchitis, your son needs to take it easy until he is well. Other than that, he can and should do absolutely everything that he can do. In fact, the more exercise, the better even if he needs to use his inhaler. Exercise increases lung capacity and elasticity, two important things for asthmatics.

The peak flow monitor is a good idea. That will help give him an idea when he needs to use his inhaler. (I am stressing 'him' because it is his condition, not yours. The monitor in fact will help you, too.) Wheezing is a good indicator, but I always found tightness and reduced capacity more important. A little minor wheezing, meh, the world is not ending. Not to say that meds aren't appropriate then, especially for an 8 y/o, but to point out that relaxing and not panicking can sometimes put an end to it right there w/o meds. I mention this only to stress that part of what he needs to learn is how to relax, not panic. This lesson will be much, much easier if you can relax about his episodes. Make sure he takes his meds. If you hear him wheezing, calmly inquire about it w/o concern. Ask him if he needs his inhaler. Let him manage his condition, know that he has control over it, know that almost always he can manage it on his own. That is very important role modelling. If you panic, he will panic. If you treat him like he's sick, he will see himself as sick. Those aren't lessons you want to give.

Try to get more info on asthma. Then work on trusting that your son can manage this all by himself. Breathing is one of those things that doesn't require a lot of maturity or age to know how to do. ;) He will soon know when he needs meds and when he needs help if he needs help at all. Although asthma can be very serious, once people (kids, too) are provided meds, become comfortable in when to use inhalators, and learn how to not panic, it only rarely if ever escalates to a serious situation.

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Hi Mel. the steroids pulmicort (preventer meds) should kick in with time and he will be able to do sports. That will mean that he has good control over the asthma and he won't need the temporary meds (ventolin).

I lived in an old house (tiny amount of mold in the basement)and was in and out of the emergency room until I moved to a new house. In the new house I no longer needed meds once I got rid of the carpet, my foster dog, and books.

None of the air purifires helped and a consumer reports magazine also concluded that they don't help people with asthma that much and monthly air furnace filter changes do more. Duct cleaning does not need to be done each year but if they have never been cleaned or there has been some renovations then it does need to be done.

It is important to keep a dust free home. Wash curtains. Clean air return vents. Books, carpets and stuffed animals a no no in the bedroom. Use a foam matress and no down/feather pillows or comforters. Try to make the bedroom a safe place where he can sleep safely and go to when he has trouble breathing. Use baseboard heating in his bedroom and cover forced air heating that blows dust around. Seal everything in his bedroom with cauking.

I heard one pediatric asthma expert say that he can tell which child will have asthma based on the child's address. He linked apartments that have roaches to childhood asthma. He thinks they are highly allergenic. As a child I lived in an apartment where roaches moved in and maybe he is right. I don't know but thought it was an interesting association.

As much as possible try to keep him from getting chest infections. Flu shots are indicated for him for sure. Keep him home from school during times when all his classmates have colds.

I hope this helps and I know how difficult it is to see your child having asthma. It is scary.

Lachesis

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Thanks so much for the replies. My son desperately wants to go outside and he hasn't had any wheezing since yesterday. I want to let him go out, but the dr. didn't specify how long he should stay inside and rest. He knows when he is wheezing and says he will come in if he starts wheezing. Any ideas?

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I found this. I don't know if it would be helpful at all, it's just a short form to fill out an action plan so that YOU know for yourself when to do what when certain symptoms are presenting.

I used to use an inhaler and it got confusing sometimes because we didn't know when I should use it at times. [obviously I'm ok now. heh. It was mild, so no trips to the ER]

Anyway, I don't know if that chart or that site might help at all, or if you just only want first hand experience. Sorry I can't be more help.

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Thanks so much for the replies. My son desperately wants to go outside and he hasn't had any wheezing since yesterday. I want to let him go out, but the dr. didn't specify how long he should stay inside and rest. He knows when he is wheezing and says he will come in if he starts wheezing. Any ideas?

You should really call the doctor and ask how long, so that you have a time limit to set for your son - most active kids will take "stay in for two weeks" better than "stay in indefinitely" and it will probably put your mind at ease. If your son is still symptomatic with the bronchitis, I'd be careful not to let him overexert himself - chest infections are terrible for asthma, and I'd be worried about a relapse, especially he's still pretty newly diagnosed. At this point, you probably don't want to even let him start wheezing, because stuff like that can be hard to stop once it gets going.

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I he can climb stairs alright then he should be fine outside if you can trust him not to run climb or jump. If he wants to run around or if he might have SOB (short of breath) then you should go with him outside. Tell him to wear a scarf over his mouth and to stay close to home. Give him some Ventolin before he leaves. If he has any wheezing, gets tired, or has SOB then tell him to come home. Is he self-aware re: symtoms?

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Thanks for the replies. I don't have that thing that tests his breath...ummmm....peak flow meter? He goes back to the dr. thurs. so I will ask about that. He was seen by a NP when he went on Fri. because the office was so busy. She wanted me to come back and talk to the reg. ped. because she said he is an "asthma guru".

I finally let him go outside for an hour on his promise that he wouldn't run or exert himself and he promised to come in if he started coughing or wheezing. He is self-aware enough to know when he needs his inhaler. His hour is almost up. He is not going to be happy w/ me. But if he does ok w/ the hour, I think I'll let him go out for an hour after a while being inside. He's happy because the dr. said caffeine was good for him when his asthma is acting up. so he gets to drink mt. dew and pepsi.

I really appreciate all the advice. Keep it coming! I really want to get a handle on this. I've been researching asthma on the internet and it hasn't helped too much. I am looking forward to talking to his dr. I am going to write a list of questions so i don't forget. Thank God we have Medicaid!

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Has he been allergy tested yet? That is the best way to figure out what he should avoid. Allergy shots also are a great investment if you can swing them. They made a very big difference for me... eventually. They are a long process, but worth it, IMO. In fact, I just started them again a couple weeks ago.

Lachesis had many good suggestions. Changing your furnace filter frequently is a great one. If dust, mites, etc are a problem, then try for hardwood floors or a really good vacuum cleaner that you use often. This place is one of many that sells hypoallergenic mattress covers, pillow covers, and etc. The mattress (and box spring) covers are well worth it. Pillow covers are if you don't want to wash pillows regularly.

Once you figure out what his allergies are and minimize what you can in his environment, particularly his room, things should get easier. Assuming that meds work, asthma eventually becomes more of an inconvenient PITA than anything.

I'm glad you let him out to play. FWIW, I think that was the right call.

edit - missing word

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I just thought to mention that the lack of wheezing can be misleading. There can be decreased air entry without wheezing and things will sound quiet. What you want to know is if your child is getting tired with activity and checking for SOB ie is he chatty and can babble long sentences one after the other. If he mostly not a talker and it is usual for him to say Yes mom, and no mom well that's not enough.

If you need to: ask him to walk up two flights of stairs while singing the alphabet to see if he is sounds/looks SOB then you will have an idea. As he goes up the stairs does he pause as he sings. Thats Shortness of breath. If he can do that then ask him to run upstairs and then sing the alphabet. If he can run up the stairs without being tired then he's probably alright to go outside. It's the shortness of breath that you want to be picking up on. Waiting to hear audible wheezing is too late.

And not to scare you but - for imformation purposes, if there is no air entry at all there will be no wheezing cause there can be zero air entry and then you call 911 if ever his lips are blue or he's hunched over gasping for breath.

Pick up on subtle signs of him being less vocal from being SOB. Or subtle signs of decreased activity where he gets tired with activity and does not know. They are subtle symtoms, we hope, and can't always expect children to see them.

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Sure, they can socialize outdoors. My youngest brother is 5 and has had asthma for two years now. Often he suffers from bronchitis. His pediatrician administers -- antibiotics, steroids (prednisone), bronchialdialators (albuterol) -- the whole nine. Honestly, it seems like a condition that he will always be fighting. The steriods help when the condition becomes severe, but its never ending.

Check for allergies -- food and environmental. Fortunately, it is normal for kids (in public schools) to pick up viruses (causing lung problems), so as they age you may see the condition cease. That is one exception that may void asthma as a lifelong condition. Once they get away from that environment their lungs may become healthy.

The best thing to do is teach them manners, how not to spread germs, and medicate when necessary. You may want to research the medications their medical doctors are prescribing. As you may not know, prednisone, an anti-inflammatory medication, has been known to cause problems with long term usage. Its not just for asthma, its for serious illnesses, and post-operative regimens. Doctors hand it out like candy. Ask for something safer and effective if possible.

Good luck and don't worry too much!

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I talked to a nurse today and she gave the go-ahead for my son to go outside and play. And if he feels bad or starts to wheeze or whatever, he has to come in. Yay! He is so happy. Oh-the prednisone(sp?) is only for 5 days and it is obvious that it makes him feel better. His dad is very much against him taking steroids. I guess he thinks he's taking the "bodybuilder" kind. And he hasn't grown any hair on his chest. I have noticed that he's having a hard time getting to sleep early at night. I'm thinking it's the prednisone. I think I remember it may make him hyper. I must warn his teacher. Although he has a really cool teacher who is pretty hyper herself. Once again, thanks ev1 for the info. It really helps me to get some knowledge. I let my son read through this thread and it was very helpful to him. He's mature for his age and can handle knowing the facts. I just love him to death!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Wow...I'm surprised by all the people that use peak flow meters. I use one but when I talked to our doc about getting one for my son (age 11) he said its falling out of favor and they are suggesting going by subjective symptoms (SOB) instead of the peak flow. I've also found this to be the case when calling doctor's offices for asthma action plans for my students. Maybe its a regional thing since I live close to a huge teaching hospital that most of our local docs are farmed out of.

My son really only has reactive airway which is more of a bronchial reaction to a trigger rather than the full-blown inflammation that asthma entails. He uses an albuterol inhaler for bronchospasms.

I have asthma. I use Advair 50/500 (max dose) 2 x/day. I also use my albuterol as a rescue med. My asthma often leads to pneumonia if I don't catch the bronchitis in time. It happens every Spring and Fall. I use steroids short term. Sometimes, I've needed more than prednisone. Don't let your husband get too upset about steroids. They can literally be a life saver. They can cause behavioral/mood problems at high doses or without tapering so you need to be observant.

NEVER ABRUPTLY STOP STEROIDS WITHOUT MD APPROVAL...that CAN be dangerous.

Keep your child's teacher, school nurse and phy ed teacher aware of what is happening with his asthma. Supply copies of an asthma action plan to them and a rescue inhaler.

Does he use a "spacer" or Aero-chamber? These are tubes that allow him to breath in all of the inhaled medicine. I even use one myself because they make the inhaler more effective.

Good luck! I hope he is feeling better!

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I think the reason peak flow meters have fallen out of favor is because there's no real way to determine a normal reading based on age/height/weight/whatever. However, I find that it's still useful to keep track of your personal best and deviations from your own normal values. After using one for two or three years now, I know what numbers correspond to what severity of symptoms and it helps me decide how I should medicate a flare-up.

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I asked his dr. about the peak flow meter and they were like you, N$P, watch and observe symptoms. He has been in a "wait and see" period to determine if his asthma is triggered by exercise. So far, thank God, it doesn't seem to be. He hasn't had any ashtma symptoms, even when being active. He takes the reg. prev. inhaler, I forget the name, twice a day. And his normal "rescue" inhaler twice a day. He goes back to the dr. next week so I'll see if he still needs to use his albuterol daily. I hope not.

He doesn't use the tube. I thought it was for kids who couldn't do the inhaler regularly. I will have to ask the dr. about that. I'm so glad to see him active and healthy. It's amazing how much color he got back when his symptoms were treated and under control. He seems so colorful now. Bright eyes, rosy cheeks, dark pink lips. That may sound like a weird description, it is just that when he was really sick, he was without all that color for a while and I didn't know it I guess because I was used to it. Now I know if he loses his rosy good colors, to take action.

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He doesn't use the tube. I thought it was for kids who couldn't do the inhaler regularly. I will have to ask the dr. about that.

Last time I had pneumonia, my respiratory therapist told me that everyone should use a spacer because medicine is still lost when you use the inhaler correctly. It also gives the person 2-3 breaths to get all of the medicine in instead of just one. I never used my spacer before... I thought I didn't need it because I knew how to use my inhaler. When I asked my doctor about this, he said he orders spacers for all of his patients and expects them to use them. OOPS!

I've noticed a considerable difference in the relief I get from my rescue inhaler since I started using it.

I'm so glad to hear that your lil' man is feeling better! ;)

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I wish I were organized enough to keep up with my spacer...It's buried in my car under piles of dumpster-dived stuff.

Pale/bluish lips are a sign of really super-obstructed airways.

Something I find helpful for really bad attacks, in addition to the prescription stuff, is guaifenesin, an over-the-counter expectorant. If there is mucus buildup or plugging the expectorant helps me to cough it out. Ask your doc first, obviously.

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