Childhood Asthma {Signs & Symptoms}

I was the kid that had horrendous childhood asthma. Always wheezing and puffing away or, worse still, stopping breathing all together. I think it’s safe to say mine was the pretty severe type. My mum had to constantly hoover my room to remove every spec of dust and looking back it controlled a lot of my childhood and ruined many an occasion too.

I vividly remember being on holiday in Devon and being told we were going to a very ‘posh’ restaurant that night. My cousins and I were all super excited, so much so that by the time we got the restaurant I was in such a hyper state that I ended up being carted off to the nearest hospital in an ambulance and woke up with an oxygen mask on. My mum and I didn’t even get our starters!!

So given my horrendous asthma it was highly likely that one of my girls would end up with it.

I will state that this post is not a medical one, simply my own experiences of dealing with Alice’s apparent asthma and the advice and treatment we have been given thus far. You can find out more details on the Asthma UK website.

Since she was a tiny baby Alice has always suffered with numerous chest infections resulting in more courses of antibiotics than I care to remember. She also ALWAYS has the most horrendous cough. The poor thing sounded like she smoked 50 a day and when she was younger this resulted in much projectile vomiting as she struggled to control the cough.

The cough was probably the worse thing as everywhere we went people would look at her as if to say ‘do not bring that child near mine’.

It was actually her pre-school teacher who realterted me to the fact that perhaps Alice has asthma. We did have a blue salbutamol inhaler from one of her many chest infection episodes so we always made sure she had this at school and this would be given to her instant relief anytime she had a coughing attack. Over time, and following another chest infection, she was given a brown inhaler as a preventative measure and I was meant to give her this every night. This works to reduce inflammation in the breathing tubes and stop asthma symptoms occurring.

When she was younger it was very hard to get her to take the inhaler. We have a spacer which is basically a tube and mini mask that fits over their mouth. The inhaler squirts in to this and they breathe through the mask. She didn’t like it at all but I’m pleased to say she is brilliant with it now.

I think we would have just carried on giving her the odd puff of inhaler had it not been for yet another bout of illness around her fourth birthday. The poor thing was coughing so much that she was constantly being sick. As she starts school in a few weeks I wanted to make sure she was well enough to cope with that and most of all I wanted her to be able to do everything she wants to without being wiped out.

So off we went to the GP. He advised me to increase her brown inhaler dosages to two puffs twice a day. I had previously only been giving her one once a day. I was to return in two weeks and if there were no changes then she would be referred as he was also keen to understand why she is always ill.

I was sceptical as despite knowing what it is like to have asthma Alice has never been wheezy. What I would have thought was the tell tale sign. Instead she only had her ridiculous hacking cough. I did a spot of reading, as you do, and some kids do only have the cough.

After a week of her increased dosage her cough had gone. And it hasn’t returned.

Asthma can’t officially be diagnosed until children are over five however the doctor is pretty confident that given how she has responded, coupled with the family history, that she probably does. This means we are to continue with her treatment for the immediate future. She will be monitored every three months and they want to see how she copes this winter, as that is historically her bad time. If she still continues to get ill then she may be referred to a paediatrician for some scans and tests.

I know some people have concerns about giving their children steroid inhalers on an ongoing basis however it is a very small dose and, having experienced asthma myself, if it helps Alice I am happy to do so. I also hope that one day she will grow out of it like I did. Till then I will be trying to remember her inhaler and keeping an eye on things such as pollen counts in the summer or dampness and cold in the winter. I will also be regularly hoovering under her bed!!

I’m so glad the inhaler is working and I now wish I had upped her dosage years ago. I also wish I’d made more of a point of the cough to the Doctor on one of our many trips but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

We are very lucky that at present Alice’s asthma isn’t severe and she doesn’t suffer from attacks or struggle with her breathing. I know first hand how scary that can be. For me the preventative measures are the most important as well as ensuring you always have an in-date inhaler with you. Yep, I was the mum who never realised Alice’s was past it’s best!

Has anyone else had experiences of childhood asthma, either yourself or your child, and have you got any tips or thoughts to share?

{Asthma Signs & Symptoms}

Childhood asthma signs, symptoms and treatments

Image by We Are // The Clarkes

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Lottie loves teaching her girls to be cake baking and crafting supremos. It may be messy but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
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10 Comments. Leave new

Jacqui Matthews
4th August 2017 7:40 am

Can I second don’t dismiss the cough?! And don’t think just because your child has made it to 11/12/13 without asthma they’re going to stay asthma free. I was about 12 when I developed an horrendous cough, it used to keep me awake a night, which was a diagnosed as asthma and I was given a brown and a blue inhaler. They are still my companions 20 years later! I only wheeze occasionally, usually in winter when going from the cold to the warm and vice versa. My husband however had quite severe asthma as a child which he’s completely grown out of. So as awful as it sounds we’re hoping if our son follows in our footsteps (which he probably will as he’s already showing signs of hay fever) his asthma now as a small child and grows out of it.

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That cough is a nightmare isn’t it? I’m not sure why I never put two and two together before but I guess when Alice was young it never really crossed my mind. My asthma was always the ridiculously wheezy kind and although I remember the hacking cough too it was the shortness of breath and wheeze that were my signs. I too am hoping Alice grows out of it or at least only needs a blue inhaler occasionally like I do. xx

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Great post Lottie! My husband and I both have asthma (his since childhood that he didn’t grow out of, mine started as a teenager out of the blue).
We’ve been quite conscious of the fact that there’s a high chance our little boy could get it to.

He had bronchiolitis four times in two months this winter, each time resulting to a trip to A&E and the last time he was put on oxygen. We have a brown and a blue inhaler since then and luckily he hasn’t had a bout since then. We’ll see what winter will bring, he’s not a year yet so an official diagnosis is a few years away but it seems pretty likely.

Did you know that the UK has amongst the highest rates of childhood asthma worldwide (https://www.asthma.org.uk/about/media/facts-and-statistics/) 😞

Definitely get your little one checked it you’re at all concerned. And if you’re worried about the stereoids in the inhalers, please remember that the dosis is quite small but in the end, saves lives.

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Thank you so much Maike. Alice too had bronchiolitis and ended up in hospital, on Christmas Eve no less! I’m pleased to say as she’s got older the amount of chest infections has reduced so hopefully your little one may get better as time goes on.

It’s pretty scary reading about the UK I have to say. Maybe time to move!

x

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Thanks for this, it’s interesting to hear that a cough is now a sign of asthma, as I’ve never heard that before. I have asthma, as do all my siblings and my Dad, so family history runs pretty strong with us. My 4 year old has had repeated coughing fits and wheezing episodes over the years, and we eventually got prescribed salbutamol and a spacer, which we use as needed. It definitely helps her, and we use it fairly regularly, but as yet we haven’t been prescribed a preventative (brown) inhaler, so perhaps I need to push harder.

From a personal perspective I think it’s all about finding the right combination of meds, my asthma was pretty bad as a child and it never seemed to improve. Then I moved away to Uni, and had a different doctor who introduced me to long acting relievers alongside preventers and my life was changed. I now take a daily dose of Symbicort (a long acting reliever combined with steroid in one) and I rarely need my preventer. My siblings and Dad have moved to similar treatments and have had excellent results too. None of us every grew out of asthma, but our lives aren’t ruled by it and many people are surprised to hear we have asthma (especially my brother who used to be professional mountain biker). x

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Morning Sara. It definitely runs in the family doesn’t it and sorry to hear that it sounds like your little one is struggling too. I completely agree on making sure you have the right medication as I know a lot of people who have changed and seen results. Also I find it interesting that most doctors give Salbutamol now rather than ventolin, which I had as a kid, as I think the ventolin is meant to be more effective. It’s definitely worth an ask if you don’t think it’s helping. I also love how under control your family have their asthma, it’s so lovely to hear stories like this xx

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I had asthma as a child, along with my older sister (hospitalised a fair few times) and, as it typically does, it altogether disappeared during my teenage years. It crept back a little but was manageable, until I had my baby and then – for some reason?! – it got really bad. I had my last asthma attack on Monday which scared me senseless as I didn’t actually realise what was going on as my symptoms were totally different (breathlessness, no audible wheeze, cough, not the terrifying turning blue attacks I’ve had in the past). It has really caused me to stop and think over my treatment and get a plan in place and actually start to take it seriously, it really is such a scary thing.

I do worry I’ve passed it to my little boy but, fingers crossed, he seems well enough now with no early indicators. One chest infection in two years (touch wood) and very active with no problems running for hours at a time! My main advice would be to really research the symptoms as you have said, try and identify triggers where possible (dust/pollution/certain animals/pollen) and ALWAYS take your inhalers – don’t think because you feel OK you are. Steroids may not be the nicest, but not being able to breath is definitely worse. Would also agree that Ventolin is far more effective than Salbutomol, and for severe cases I would push for a Seratide inhaler, which is a combination of preventative and relief and works absolute wonders. I think Seratide might be an expensive drug to prescribe as my GP is reluctant, but really push for it if your current inhalers aren’t working as effectively as they should.

And another tip! I live in London so the pollution is obviously a difficult thing to avoid but I have the City Air and Cleanspace app which give you updates on pollution levels in the area. When high I won’t exercise outdoors and will try to keep inside where possible – difficult with a toddler but planning ahead and knowing when I might need extra help can never hurt.

I hope your little girl continues to improve! X

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I would also like to give a shout out to the Dyson air purifier – spendy but does remove pollen which has seemed to make a bit of difference to the night time cough in our house!

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Hi Lottie, I suffered from terrible asthma as a child too. Probably a product of being born in the late 70s when smoking was rife in every environment around me. Worse were the myriad of allergies: dairy, cats, dogs and oddly – grass cuttings. Fortunately I grew out of the allergies but the asthma is still with me at 38. So when my twin girls were born I was nervous they would inherit my predisposition to allergens and asthma. Interestingly my eldest ( the two minutes between her and her sister are very important to her) had a very dry cough when she was about 5yrs old – and after trying cough syrup, water, dehumidifier, humidifier – pretty much everything we figured might help according to the doctor – we went to see another GP who diagnosed her with Asthma too. I actually felt quite emotional about it because I remember how it stopped me from participating in certain activities ( was always triggered by sport). However, she used a brown inhaler for a period of around a week and the cough disappeared along with her asthma. Thankfully it hasn’t returned either so I’m extremely pleased for her. I do remember being a kid and just wanting to get air in to my lungs – so my dad used to drive me round with the window down – breathing in the cool air seemed to help me – and as I have got older, distraction helps too. I used to become so aware of my breathing that I could almost hypervenitilate – focusing on every wheeze – when I get asthma now – I make a cup of tea and tidy something up – and for whatever reason – I forget I’m wheezing, I calm down, and the asthma eases without having to take my medication. Anyway, great article above with the illustrations too. Thanks for sharing and I hope Alice continues to enjoy herself without the worry of asthma.

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[…] child). Sadly my little girl Alice seems to have also developed asthma (which I wrote about on Rock My Family). Luckily I seemed to grow out of it in the main and, apart from a bout of asthma when I lived in a […]

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