Our son Matthew, aged 12, has had several episodes of quite severe asthma this year which have needed nebulisation and steroids. During one of these episodes earlier this year we noticed that following nebulisation his breathing was still very noisy but only on exhalation. His tummy muscles were very tense just as though he was really â€œworking hardâ€ during an asthma attack but he could achieve near normal peak flow and his inhalation was completely clear. Listening with a stethoscope confirmed that there was little or no wheeze.
At first it was very difficult for us to tell the difference between this abnormal breathing and full blown asthma, particularly as it usually followed close on the heels of an asthma attack. On one occasion we called an ambulance after giving him many doses of Ventolin and by the time the Paramedic arrived Matthew was still breathing extremely noisily and shaking like a leaf from the effects of the Ventolin, but with no wheeze. The Paramedic was rather confused but decided Matthew definitely needed hospital attention. On arrival the doctors seemed rather dismissive of the problem.
Over the last few weeks Matthew's asthma has again been bad, requiring 2 â€“ 3 nebulisations a day.
Over the last week his asthma has slowly improved but this abnormal breathing seems to have taken over, often being triggered by environmental conditions, just like asthma, but not responding to inhalers/nebulisers, indeed these often make it worse. It is rather distressing to watch him having this abnormal breathing, sometimes for several hours at a time as we feel helpless to do anything.
Over the last few days he has been complaining of constant tummy pain which we are sure is muscular due to the great effort his tummy muscles put into the exhalation.
The Community Asthma Nurse came to see Matthew this week, right in the middle of an episode of this breathing, and was rather alarmed by it, saying she had never seen anything like it. She was particularly confused when his peak flow and lung function tests were all within normal range.
Has anyone else come across this before and got any tips for us?
Joe and Marion