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Is it Asthma?

My daughter is 5, she had a stubborn cough and raised allergy makers in August this year. Our GP gave her a brown inhaler which made the cough go within 6 weeks, we agreed that we would stop the inhaler and see how she did. She then got a cold again in October, so we started the inhaler again and the cough went. About a month ago she started coughing on waking then she started with a slight sniffle so I started her on the inhaler again and it has helped to settle her cough down again. Silly Question: Does this mean she has asthma? The GP told me there is no real test at this age and the use of an inhaler is the main way of diagnosis. Thanks.

5 Replies

At that age it is still difficult to be absolutely sure but if the inhaler is visibly helping then I would say keep using it, keep in touch with the Gp/nurse for regular reviews and, as she gets older, it should be easier to do testing etc.

For me, if the inhalers help then it’s worth using them to keep her as well as possible and able to enjoy day to day stuff, not miss school or activities....



Sorry to hear your daughter is suffering, as Eckat says I would keep using it and maybe ask for a second opinion. I'm going back many years but a similar thing happened to me as a child where I was always in hospital with what the hospital called "chest infections" and it was only when my parents got a second opinion that asthma was diagnosed. Shortly after we found a local GP who specialised in it and I became a lot more stable. There are reversibility tests they can do involving testing her lung function before anfd after taking inhalers but I think this done at the hospital rather than the GP. So i'd keep perusing it with the doctor and you know her best so if your gut instinct tells you to keep her on the steroid inhaler, keep her on it. Sometimes children are prescribed blue reliever inhalers without a steroid inhaler and this sometimes this isn't enough. Does she have a blue inhaler as well in case she gets breathless? And call the asthma nurses on the advice line on Asthma UK they have loads of good advice.

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Your girl could have asthma - there is no single definitive diagnostic test, so a diagnosis has to be based upon a review of symptoms. Asthma-like symptoms that respond to a brown inhaler over a 4-6 week period would suggest that it is very possibly asthma.

My experience is as and adult with asthma, so there may be some differences for a youngster, but as a plan of action I'd suggest that you go back to the GP, or possibly to the Asthma Nurse if the practice has one, and ask for confirmation that the brown inhaler is the correct one, and that the dosage is OK.

Also, ask if your daughter should be given a blue inhaler. Brown inhalers are long-acting preventers, blue inhalers are used if there's an acute flare-up of symptoms. Ask for detailed guidance - ideally as a written plan - on how and when to use the inhalers. Inhaler technique is really important, so ask for a demonstration! I'd guess that you should be offered a spacer, but it wouldn't hurt to ask for one!

Ask the GP /nurse to check your daughter's peak flow, and also if it would be appropriate for you to learn how to do this. Peak flow is an indication of how well the lungs are working, and by keeping a regular check you can see trends before significant symptoms appear. Checking peak flow is easy and painless - it could easily be turned into a game!

Hopefully your daughter will never have an acute asthma attack, but it would be sensible for you to be taught how to recognise the keys signs, and what to do in an emergency. If asthma symptoms do flare up into an attack they tend to do it late on a Saturday night, or over a Bank Holiday, when it's much more difficult to get help! A conversation with the Asthma Nurse on this subject could save you a great deal of worry and stress should your daughter become unwell.

Lastly, I'd guess your girl is at school, so it would be sensible to have a discussion with her teacher. Asthma can be scary, but having knowledge and understanding makes it much easier to deal with, both in the routine day-to-day, and in an emergency.

All the best.


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Thanks for the advice, I have booked an appointment for after Christmas, my daughter is also Type One Diabetic so if the GP cannot clear things up I'll have a chat with her Paediatrician at her next appointment. Merry Christmas x


Difficult, but why stop the inhaler? It is preventative medication and I have been taking this for years without any side-effect and I haven't had any asthma for years. Speak to doctor and see what strength is brown inhaler and after a period reduce the strength and see how you go.


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