how treatment and attitudes seem to have changed.....views please!


this is my first message here, i thought it would be the best place to put down what i have been thinking lately. i'm 33, i've had asthma all my life. My daughter is 6 and has also been diagnosed, but the differences between our asthma (comparing mine at 6 to hers now) and how they were/are treated is enormous. I have a few thoughts i hope you could all help me with.

Firstly the character of how it presents - i didn't realise there was such a variety, although i know there are huge differences in severity. My daughter just gets progressively wheezier to the point that she begins to struggle, it can happen over the course of a day or 2 or 3 days, it doesn't happen often, every 3 months or so, and we have to seek further treatment over the inhalers she is already on. Luckily with my history i can spot trouble a mile off! However when i was that age, i used to have sort of explosive ""attacks"" which thankfully my daughter hasn't (yet?) had, i would be wheezy anyway but i knew that as soon as i coughed, off it would go, really awful constricted breathing, lots of coughing, a real struggle for air in and out, and after downing a lot of ventolin it would ease off, with heart racing and sore ribs! I just dealt with it myself when i was older, my parents monitored it but left me too it. when i was below 12 i had pretty severe asthma, i think i had about 2 or 3 attacks a week or more, most of them in the early hours, which were really frightening, particulalry when i was under 7, i felt i was dying! but we just got on with it, it never occurred to anyone that maybe an ambulance was needed or casualty, it was a sort of attitude of ""this is what the doc gave us, we just sit here until it works"". Only once did they call out a doctor, and he called an ambulance (which actually involves my bizarre tale of out of body experience - maybe another time! i was admitted and stayed for 5 days) but the ""way things were"" it was sort of deemed that unless you were blue or unconscious, people didn't really like to make a fuss or drama by maybe being a bit more assertive. Only after that admission at 6 or 7 did our gp give us our first inhaler - he told us children under 7 weren't allowed them. I remember my first attack after being given it, and mum saying ""shall we try the new thing?"" and they got the box out of the cupboard, i took 2 puffs and it worked instantly, we were all gobsmacked that something had been invented that worked. All we'd have before was intal spinhalers - who wants to inhale powder when having an attack?? Even then, the doc told mum we were only allowed 1 inhaler per month, cue awful anxiety when i knew it was getting empty and the month wasn't up, i'd be afraid to tell mum, so i'd run out then end up in a mess with nothing to take, get bollocked for it and then bollocked for using it ""too much"".

So I am (pleasantly) amazed how the treatment of this has changed, wondered what you thought about it. I think a lot of it is to do with how the general public viewed the ""authorities"" and the health services maybe 30 years ago compared to now. Parents generally did what they were told and didn't question it. Now it seems thankfully you are encouraged to act straight away, certainly if i saw my child anywhere near a single attack like i had, i wouldn't mess about, it'd be hospital or 999. Not suggesting of course my parents were neglectful, they were just doing as they were told and didn't question it. I never once had steroids apart from becotide, which i was introduced to late teens. My daughter has had prednisalone quite a few times (4?) already, there's just no ""leave it and see how she is"" anymore, which is great. I now wonder if i was a child now, with the symptoms i had then, how different would my treatment be? Would my asthma have a further label to classify its severity? How much time would i have spent in hospital?

I would love to hear your thoughts. DD's asthma is changing, she was admitted at 5 months, 7, then 14 months. Nothing until december (just before she was 6), when she got incredibly wheezy over the course of an afternoon, which resulted in an admission that night, and then another episode last week where she was given prednisalone and amoxicyllin but not admitted. She is on serevent and becotide daily, and up until december she didn't take it unless she started wheezing, but after december's admission she's stayed on it. I'm not overly concerned, i know it could be so much worse, and i know what i'm dealing with, i'm thankful i've had it so i can spot it coming, i can't imagine if i had no experience of it and then having to deal with a small child with it, very frightening!


3 Replies

  • Wallaby, I too remember my first encounter with ventolin via the turbo-haler it was like a miracle, I completed a x country run shortly afterwards thanks to as puff or 2 on my new best freind, the world had re-become my oyster. I became paroniod about being anywhere without it. Thankfully I had a very indulgent GP who wrote me enough scripts to enable me to keep one at school by my bed, one in my bag, one Mums, one in my desk car etc etc. I remember the old no more that 4 times a day thing and having to stick to that glue. It sure beat the hell out of hours sitting up in bed coughing till I puked, being scared by the stairs at school. My family never called an ambulence I guess I did not need one but if I had to sit up with my 6 year old night cos she could not breathe I would be dialing 999.

    For those who get diagnosed now and handed a script for a blue inhaler you have no idea just how bad it was to be an asthmatic pre the 1980's!


  • So much of this sounds ever so familiar, but I think a lot of the difference comes down to the acquired understanding of asthma that has occured over the past 20-30 years. I think relatively little was really known about it when we were kids (I too am 33), let alone medications that were available, and that as the disease has been researched and more has been learned about it, attitudes have changed and treatment protocols have been established. This, of course, going hand in hand with advancements in drugs for asthma have led to huge benefits for the treatment of asthma today, and the different 'experience' of the disease for children with it.


  • I remember learning as a very young child how to break the glass ends off my intal nebules without the little plastic thing that always got lost without cutting my fingers and although i'm only 31 my first neb was a porta neb foot pump thing like for pumping up tyres as we lived in an area with frequent power cuts!

    I'm glad i haven't had to go through the battles regards inhalers being locked in school offices with my daughter's school but i do think that attitudes have changed so much that the general perception of asthma is being a bit puffed and having a squirt on your blue inhaler not as a condition that if not correctly managed can land you in hospital apart from my gran who still thinks it's all everyones head noone has it it our family we all just had a touch of bronchitis and inhalers should not be seen in public.. can't win em all.

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