HELP- 3 year old son suffering from asthma

Hi there, I'm new here and I'm hoping to find people in the same boat. I have a three year old son called George, who suffered last year with a persistent cough throughout the winter period. he hospitised about 4 times and eventually got referred to a peditrican. Because of his age they can't diagnose asthma, yet he's got all the symptoms and on all the inhalers. The peditrican we saw did a number of tests, and was pretty adamant it was due to the fact when he had his immunisations as a baby they didn't have an effect on him so he put him forward to have all these done again and said we can only tell if it's worked by waiting till winter again to see If it comes back. Well it's winter again and it's back, and it's back worse than ever. Last night we had to call 999 as he was having what I would describe an asthma attack, the inhalers wasn't having an effect on him, and the steroid tables he was prescribed prior to this clearly aren't touching him. As soon as they put the oxygen on him he was absolutely fine,but tonight we are back to the coughing. All day he hasn't had 5 minutes break with no coughing and at night it gets worse. He can't sleep due to it, and normally ends up project vomiting from the amount of coughing he's doings. I'm at my absolute wits end, I feel helpless and exhausted and I dread to think how he actually feels. The doctors have said they will send a referral to a respiratory consultant, but luckily we have private health care so looking to get seen sooner as the NHS has a huge waiting list on this. I just don't know what else to do in these attack other than call 999, I spoke to the doctor earlier and said is there something at home I can be doing when he's having these attacks to help him but they just go round the question. There is nothing worse than seeing your 3 year old suffering to breath and coughing constantly..... ok so update, I had to stop writing this midway as he's had yet another attack and my husband has gone with him in the ambulance again whilst I stay with our 7 month old baby. I just feel completely helpless. Am I the only one out there with this because I feel like I am 😢

7 Replies

  • Do you have a spacer with a face mask? I presume yes because of his age. As soon as he starts coughing give him 2 puffs of blue inhaler. Try to get him to breathe slowly and calmly (I know it's hard, I remember with my son. We tried counting games, rhymes, anything that will distract him even a bit while you get that medication in him.) Wait 5 minutes. If he's still as bad, repeat. He's too young for peak flow monitoring and all of that so call 999 if he is still coughing. While waiting keep repeating the 2 puffs, wait routine, but don't lose count and no more than 6 in a child his age? Don't let it get to the projectile vomit stage before dialling 999. By this point he can't get air in at all and he could suffer lack of oxygen. The more you ring 999 the quicker the experts will get this under control. Do not suffer at home. Even if it's 999 every night...Don't drive him to A&E either. The ambulance has oxygen.

    Best of luck. It's horrible. I know.


  • PS me again. In the day time, ask about an antihistamine safe for a child his age. It might be he is allergic to something and it might help. They'll have to do a load of allergy testing possibly at a later date. Also ask about cough syrup.

    Honey soothes the throat, and sucking on a sugarfree lolly like chupa chups will reduce the cough. (Obviously your call as the mum on that. I used to have visions of running with lollies in mouth and falling) Sometimes breaking the cycle of needing to cough might help see how much is asthma and how much is annoying cough...

  • Don't drive him to A&E! I hate to say this Jenhcat, but sometimes you have no choice but to do that. I can remember calling 999 at 2.00am when my son had an asthma attack only to be told that it would be an hour before an ambulance could get to me and it would be quicker for me to drive him there (nearest A&E to us is eight miles away). So I had to drive him there having asked my husband to call through to the A&E to tell them what had happened and that we were on our way. That did mean that we got seen very quickly when we arrived - thank goodness.

  • We did get this with our younger son who developed asthma, aged three. I don't know whether it was because I was also asthmatic (also developed it aged three) but my local surgery suspected it was asthma almost at once but were reluctant to put him on a steroid inhaler whilst he was so young and small (and he was small for a three year old). They had a change of stance after four emergency call outs in the space of four months. He was put on a steroid preventer inhaler shortly before his fourth birthday - it changed his life.

    As Jenhcat has already said, it's horrible to watch, and I speak as a mother who knew all too well what it was like to be a small child experiencing an asthma attack having been through it myself. With me, my mother used to sit me on her lap and rub my back whilst giving me a lump of jelly to suck on, which was an attempt to get me to relax (not great for teeth but low sugar treats were not known of in the 1960s). With my son it was rather different. My local surgery was fantastic about it and when he had an attack that wasn't responding to what I had at home, I would call them at once and would then rush him round there so he could be put on a nebuliser which gave him very quick relief. Once he was on a steroid inhaler the number of attacks reduced markedly, but I can still recall the time he threw up in the car on the way to the surgery to get him nebulised.

    I was lucky in that I had terrific support from my local surgery (in stark contrast to what my mother had when I was a child). Can I suggest that you make an appointment with your GP at a time when your son isn't having an attack to discuss a possible plan of action for when these attacks occur. You might want to have to hand the number of times you've had to dial 999 and the action the hospital had to take. You need to get your local surgery on side with this.

  • Yes absolutely do drive him there if it'd be quicker than the ambulance. I simply meant that the crew have access to oxygen etc that you don't. I went through this a couple of times when my son was tiny. He was on a preventer inhaler by the age of 2 because of a couple of admissions, and he had never once slept through the night before this. Within 2 weeks of the preventer he slept through and we never looked back.


  • It is amazing the difference those preventer inhalers can make. The problem comes from the fact that medics are so reluctant to prescribe steroid inhalers for small children. Their caution is understandable - steroids are very powerful drugs and they would want to be certain that the situation really does warrant them - but that's of small consolation to frantic parents having to deal with the attacks.

  • I was initially diagnosed with asthma at the age of 7 months old (I'm 30 now so things have definitely changed)

    But I would be surprised if they are fairly sure it is asthma why they wouldn't give him a diagnosis of asthma so he can get better care

    I know there are issues with children and steroids preventer inhalers but there are non steroid inhalers that are suitable for some people (those who can't have steroids) and I do believe some of these can be used for children where steroid use is a concern

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