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?