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3 year old's asthma attack



Just looking for information about your young children with asthma.

My daughter had her first asthma attack yesterday. It came on suddenly and six hours later we were in hospital. She was given a salbutamol inhaler, and sent to a different hospital for observation on a ward.

This morning she was still struggling, but the inhaler helped and she was back to her normal self by lunchtime.

The doctor at the hospital said they wouldn't be able to diagnose asthma officially just yet, but essentially said it is. However, when I asked about getting a second inhaler to leave at nursery I was told there was no need yet. This was just the activation of asthma and we'll probably not see another attack for a year or so.

I fully trust the doctor's judgment and he was fantastic with her, but would love some personal experiences from parents of young children. How did you find things progressed after the first attack?

I had asthma as a child but obviously don't remember the very early progression.

9 Replies


Normally, something triggers asthma. These triggers can be Allergies. Did they test to see if it was being driven by anything. Asthma attacks don't just generally happens because asthma develops. They normal happen due to inflammation within the airways; and they airways being hyper responsive. I don't think your request for a secondary inhaler for school is a bad idea. I would cerntainly ask you GP what they think about this.

I would also monitor the situation to see how they are. But certainly book an appointment with your GP to keep an eye on the chest and see if any further steps are required

Thanks Wheezy19543,

They think a virus triggered it - she had been complaining of earache as well, and a sore throat.

I'm just particularly concerned as when I was younger I used to have attacks frequently, often without doing anything at all. Running around, even for a short time, was often quite difficult for me.

She does also have an allergy - she's allergic to cats, as am I - so there's that to think about as well. We do visit homes with cats quite frequently, including one that isn't well cleaned, and I'm wondering if those might affect her more now.

Based on what you've said I will book her a GP appointment tomorrow just to ask about the next steps and potentially getting an inhaler so that she has one at nursery as well.

I just wasn't sure how I would be overexaggerating to go and ask for a second inhaler after being told that 'she won't have another attack for probably another year or so'. I just feel like I'd like to be prepared, now that it's happened once.

Thank you. :-)

Just make sure you give her plenty of warm water it helps alot with asthma. And if its a virus it will help with her circulation to fight it of.

It tends to happen in winter with less water in take.

I think part of the reasoning behind not officially diagnosing asthma is a wish to see what develops. It may all just go away in time, or she may need more regular medication. The big thing is to be relaxed about it. If your daughter feels your anxiety, it will probably make her worse. Provided the school has your mobile number and the staff has had training on how to recognise and cope with an asthma attack (I'd check this) she should be ok. It is now ok for schools to keep spare inhalers for general use in the office as children forget theirs quite often. Have a chat with the school if you're worried and keep away from the cats.

I suppose it's not really my place to challenge a doctor, but that advice seems like utter nonsense. As others have said, if it's atopic (allergic) then she'll get a reaction every time she's exposed to the allergen. That might happen of course, but it seems more of a guess than a diagnosis.

My son developed asthma as a baby & had repeated attacks right up until he was probably 3 or 4.

Re. the cats - I would seriously stay well away from them.

(And I probably shouldn't say this, but you can always tell the GP in a few weeks you've either lost one or it's used up & get a spare).

Blader87 in reply to Minushabens

Thanks Minushabens.

That was my concern, though I'm generally inclined to trust the doctors. The one at the hospital did say that he was sure it looked to be asthma - the presentation was in line with asthma and the salbutamol offered the relief that was expected, and all the signs were there - but then said that usually it's activated by something but will then take time to develop to the point of further attacks. Essentially, that having one big notable attack did not mean that we needed to be concerned that she'd have more for quite a long time.

When I went to see our GP yesterday and mentioned asthma, he checked the hospital discharge note and said "Funny you should mention asthma - here it just says she has a 'viral wheeze", which made me feel a bit like I was being dramatic and sounded like I was inventing the possibility of asthma, despite that being what was said in hospital. His tone was one of a bit of disbelief. So I did reiterate that yes, the doctor in the hospital did say that they wouldn't formally diagnose the asthma at such a young age, so it would be labelled as a viral wheeze until further symptoms presented themselves, and he said "Well, we'll just see how it develops. It may be nothing."

I know it may be nothing, and obviously I'm hoping that this was a one-off, but at the same time I'd like preparations in place just in case, having been through it once. I felt like there was no point going through this and then going "Well, it may never happen again" and just ignoring it. If it did happen again, I'd at least like her nursery to have access to the right medication (which they now do) rather than us immediately needing to take her to hospital again.

Minushabens in reply to Blader87

I think you can obviously take on board that "it might be nothing". That's clearly true - it might be nothing in which case this will soon be a long forgotten one-off.

I had two kids (both now grown up). My eldest was diagnosed with asthma, had an inhaler for a while, all seemed well & she stopped taking it & has never had a problem since. Although interestingly she has had a baby herself recently & has had a mild but discernible tight chest & wheeze since giving birth.

My son, however, was a totally different story (there's a strong asthma gene in our family - especially men; me, my dad & my son all quite serious with it). If he hadn't had effective treatment through his early childhood he'd have probably ended up with a far bigger problem.

There's a research paper here that might be of interest as it looks at how asthma might evolve in children, starting with pregnancy. It's not really saying that there's anything like a model of 'you get this attack, then a year or two passes...'


Anyway, at this stage, I think you're all broadly agreeing that you need to monitor her & see how she goes, so in that context having an extra inhaler seems like a fairly small thing to ask for.

Blader87 in reply to Minushabens

Exactly. The end result was exactly what I was hoping for, so I'm happy that we have what we need in place to allow us to hopefully just forget about it all and move on. :-)

Thanks, all.

I'm not anxious about it exactly, but I don't want to be carting one inhaler backwards and forwards to her nursery, potentially leaving it behind by accident, just in case.

All sorted now, though. We had a GP appointment yesterday where we were prescribed another inhaler (but forgot about a second spacer, so now need to get hold of one of those). He also checked her and said she's still wheezing somewhat, but this doesn't surprise me as I've needed to use the inhaler a bit more with her though we have weaned her down considerably. It's just needed when she wakes up now.

He also said that if I feel like we get symptoms regularly, we can book in to see the asthma nurse to discuss more of a plan. For now, I'm hoping we can get this little bit out of the way and I can then spend some time working out what's just a cough and what's potentially asthma related - she's the kind of kid that coughs all the time and constantly wakes herself up coughing, so I want to realistically find out where the borders lie.

Good for us to have a plan, though, and an inhaler to keep at nursery. Yesterday they made me put hers in a ziplock bag in the office and go and collect it at the end of the day, but I know my memory isn't good enough to do that every day!

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