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Advice on asthma in children.

Sally21 profile image

Hello, my daughter is 3 years old and has suspected asthma. She is on 100mg brown inhaler x4 a day and montekulast 4mg tablet. We have has 7 flare ups since her review in September, this happens every time she gets a cold. Her current flare up is still ongoing, 2 weeks later, her coughing is no where near as bad but is still present. She has no break in coughing what so ever and I am really struggling with anxiety around it as nothing seems to be helping and I just can't bare to listen to her suffer anymore. During this flare up the nurse said it sounds like post nasal drip because there is no wheezing, post nasal drip won't make her cough to the extent that she coughs. They have now prescribed her anti reflux medication as she suffered with that as a baby. I have read about cough variant asthma and it exactly sounds like she has that as all of her xrays are clear each time and her chest is clear, despite being prescribed antibiotics all the time. I really am at my wits end with it all so I'm grateful for any advice. This has been a battle for 2 years Thank you.

19 Replies

Hi Sally,

Am I correct in summarizing that your daughter has had this problem since she was approximately 18 months old? It's good to investigate and find out what is out there. There are many people on Health Unlocked that will be able to give you some good ideas. We are all different and have different triggers, so it will be a process to see what works for your daughter and what doesn't. It sounds like the doctors are doing the same thing at the moment and trying different things. You are the one who sees her on a daily, moment by moment basis so you are able to see what is working.

I can only give you some pointers from my point of view.

a) Not all asthmatics wheeze when they are having an attack. There is such a thing as silent asthma and the cough variant asthma.

b) 7 colds are a lot in the time. Look at ways to improve her immune system. maybe see a naturopath or ask the doctor.

c) Antibiotics play havoc with the good bacteria in the gut which in turn can lower the immune system. We need the antibiotics and I would never go without it but I also take probiotics to replace the good bacteria. I have no idea the amount or which ones for a 3 year old however.

d) Was there something that triggered her problem off when she was young or was she always prone to colds etc?

e) Check that her bedding, clothing and everything is washed in a sensitive laundry detergent that doesn't have perfume/fragrance in it. An allergic reaction can set off a response that either triggers the asthma or leaves the body weakened and open to infections.

f) Some asthmatics do better in cold air / some do better in warm air. Is she worse at night? Cold air gives me asthma and I don't seem to be able to keep my body temperature in cold weather. Many asthmatics wear a scarf to keep warm and help them to breathe in warmer air. As my body temperature goes down, I develop a sore throat which usually then goes to my lungs unless I do whatever it takes to stop it. There are many natural things I take. Also be aware that just because it is natural doesn't mean it is safe.

g) Do you have a reliever for her - eg ventolin /salbutamol?

h) A naturopath and alternative medicine doctor would be able to order a "hair analysis". The naturopath would probably be cheaper. Here in Australia, alternative medicine doctors like to charge a specialist fee which isn't recompensed by our Medicare system so they work out very expensive. A Hair Analysis would mainly look at her mineral levels and would be easier than a blood test. For example "zinc" is an important mineral for many aspects of our bodies including the immune system. (A Hair analysis doesn't look at vitamins)

i) Different foods can trigger an asthma attack. These are hard to determine as the effect is not always immediate. I now know that meats like salami trigger my asthma. It also took me 26 years before I realized that wheat was damaging my body. It didn't give me asthma but my body can't handle it. By the way, it was while I was in England on a working holiday that a doctor diagnosed me as wheat intolerant and I shall always be grateful.

j) Pets can also be a trigger but once again not for all people.

k) Video her coughing so you can take it to the doctor. Sometimes they don't realize how bad something is until they hear it.

Wishing you and your daughter all the very best.

Sally21 profile image
Sally21 in reply to Tugun

Thank you do much for your advice. Uts really helpful. She has never been the same since she had bronchitis when she was 4 months old. It's got worse over the past 2 years.

I was looking at cough variant asthma because the asthma nurse said because she didn't have a wheeze it was just postnatal drip which I don't believe it is.

She has a lot of colds and I'm going to look at the hair strand test as I think she may have an allergy of some sort.

I use her reliver inhaler quite a lot.

I've videoed her too but havnt had a face to face app to show them. She coughs that much she is sick and when she coughs in her sleep can take up to 20 seconds to start breathing again so I just don't sleep. I'm just at a loss with it as everything we have been given doesn't help and i've tried everything to try and make it better for her. She started coughing a lot last night and she hasn't even got a cold but was outside lot and it was really cold outside which I think that might be the reason. I did make sure she had her scarf on.

Thank you so much for your advice xx

Tugun profile image
Tugun in reply to Sally21

Hi Sally,

The hair analysis only gives the minerals and if there are any toxic metals like, for example, lead. It also gives the ratio of one mineral to another as many work together in tandem. So too much of one might lead to too little of another.

The hair analysis doesn't give you any idea of allergies.

With allergies they usually give a skin prick test. This works for some allergies but doesn't pick up others. With me, the skin prick test picked up dust mites / cockroaches / she oak. However it completely missed the fact that I get sick with gluten. I get asthma with preservatives and I start sneezing and become a watering pot from my eyes and nose - leading to asthma - with perfumes or any strong fragrances.

When I was about eight my parents asked me if I wanted carpet or lino in my my bedroom. I still remember the smothering sense that overtook me when they mentioned carpet and I asked for lino. I didn't know it then but I now know that carpet was full of dust and dust mites. Even now for some reason new carpet practically closes my lungs. I can't stay in a room with new carpet. I don't know the reason but the effect is usually immediate. When I found out that a hotel I was going to be staying in had been newly renovated, I had to ask for one of their old rooms. Even with new clothes, I always wash them first before wearing.

Forgot to add last time that when you have an attack of asthma (eg wheezing or coughing) I find it best to sleep in a slightly raised position. When I was really bad I slept in a chair. However another position (from Google) is to sleep on your left side. It would be interesting to see what other asthmatics do when they are having difficulties.

Tugun profile image
Tugun in reply to Sally21

Hi Sally,

Not breathing for 20 seconds sounds like she needs to see the specialist again and soon. if you can video that and take it to your GP, you might get some action.

You see her on a daily basis - trust your instincts.

See your GP and insist on seeing a consultant. In the meantime, keep the room warm, but not too dry, distract her as much as you can and distract yourself so you don't worry all the time, and keep as calm and as reassuring as you can.

Sally21 profile image
Sally21 in reply to ChrissieMons

She us under the respiratory consultant but has had about 6 flare ups since her last review I call each flare up and speak with the asthma nurse. Thank you. I have tried everything and nothing seems to help which is very frustrating xx

Ah, I really feel for you. I went through exactly the same with my now grown up son. He had asthma from babyhood and was very poorly. Cold after cold which always affected his chest. He also had reflux problems and sinusitis.Apart from all the medication I used to give him extra vitamins and put tea tree oil/lavender in his bath. Anything to help boost his immune system.

All I can say by way of comfort is that your daughter will get stronger as she gets older. My son improved greatly when he started Xolair injections in his teens.

Good luck and I hope things for your daughter. xx

Sally21 profile image
Sally21 in reply to angievere

Thank you for your reply. I just hope she does grow out of it. I will look at other things to boost her immune system too. I do give her vitamins xx

This must be so hard! I'm so sorry! Tugun's post is spot-on and very thorough, I have nothing to add other than to keep a journal throughout the day, just jot down notes of when symptoms get worse / better etc. as you might to see a pattern you wouldn't have noticed otherwise. Colds and viruses wreak havoc on the lungs so that sounds normal. Has she had allergy testing?

Sally21 profile image
Sally21 in reply to hilary39

Thank you I will do. She gets so many colds and that's when it flares up. I think I will look at keeping a journal too. No bit I'm going to look into it. I was looking at an hair strand test so may check that.

Hi Sally I know its hard when dealing with little ones and their health problems As has already been said above insist on seeing your GP and tell him/her that you want your little one to see a consultant The reason for me saying this is cos though I am an old guy of 73 and have been through it myself am now a lot better thanks to my consultant In the meantime try to relax and enjoy your Christmas

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 2022

pat

Sally21 profile image
Sally21 in reply to eccosse

Thank you for your reply. She's under the respiratory consultant and I speak with him for her reviews and the asthma nurse when I always call for each flare up. They just keep trying different things and not much helps so far I guess it's trial and error but it's very frustrating. Merry Christmas to you too xx

Hi Sally, I’m so sorry to hear how unwell your little girl is, and your anxiety really resonates with me. My daughter is also 3 and we have experienced many difficulties with her respiratory problems, which has been very distressing (thankfully, it seems under control for our daughter now, but we are always on high alert). One thing I wonder is whether aspiration has been considered as a possible cause / contributing factor? My daughter had a video fluoroscopy undertaken (referred by her consultant) to rule this out, as she was coughing alot when eating / drinking sometimes (particularly when unwell) - the symptoms can be comparable with asthma symptoms. Also, I have just been reading up on how aspiration of small objects (eg food / plastic) may only show up on ct scans rather than x ray, so this may be worth investigating? I wish you all the best.

Sally21 profile image
Sally21 in reply to Nlank

Hi I've never heard of that before, I will look into it thank you. I'll have to keep a look out to see if she does it while eating and drinking. When she has a flare up the coughing is constant with about 10 second breaks in between so it's really hard to pin point it.

It's just really stressful isn't it and she only has to cough a couple of times and I am on edge thinking its starting again. I have to sleep next to her too when she has a flare up as during the night her breathing can be awful and stops for a while after coughing. I google everything to try and find a reason to why she gets colds so much or why she's coughing so much etc. We are on the verge of going private as I feel like they don't listen and just fob me off. I think it's partly because they don't understand how bad she gets. She has had so many courses of antibiotics when she's not needed them. I will literally try anything to get answers.

Is there a particular treatment your daughter has to have? X

Hi Sally, I totally understand that feeling of being constantly on edge - it’s so stressful and exhausting. We actually did research for a specialist paediatric respiratory specialist and were lucky to be able to lay to go private for an initial consultation to speed things up,l and because we were pretty desperate, and then unexpectedly got on the nhs books of the consultant which was great. The video fluroscopy was through the speech and language therapist team at the hospital, also on the nhs. Where are you based? (My daughter is responding well to brown inhaler which is a relief).

Oh that's good. We are in Wakefield so she's under the pinderfields respiratory team. She started on 50mg brown inhaler which didn't do anything and is now on 100mg 4 times a day and montekulast tablets but they don't help. Her last flare up at the beginning of December was her worst one and she's still coughing but not as much, her flare ups used to just last for a couple of days but seem to be lasting longer now. they sent her for an xray and it was clear and started her on anti reflux tablets as she suffered with that as a baby. We have to test these for a month. So glad the inhaler is helping your little one, it must be such a relief!!

Poobah profile image
Poobah in reply to Sally21

You may find this an interesting read. thelancet.com/journals/lanr...

Hi Sally, just wanted to say hang in there, I know how awful it is looking after a young child in this position and I hope you have good support for yourself too. I am in a very similar situation with my 5yr old son and am also find it so distressing to see him struggle. Constant coughing, worse at night, often to the point of vomiting. He has had inhalers for over 18 months (blue and brown) and recently had steroids but they have done nothing to ease the coughing, we are 6 days in to using montelukast, no real difference so far but fingers crossed. Waiting for drs to open tomorrow but we are also going to bite the bullet and go private, at least for an initial consultation. We are lucky we can do so, but we just feel like we are going in circles with our GPs between asthma, reflux, post nasal drip, post viral cough. Everytime we go we get a different GP saying something different and we just want the guessing to stop and get a proper diagnosis. I am going mad reading the Internet! It can't be right that children are left in this position, never sleeping through, vomiting every day, missing school and socialising. I can't really add to what has been written above though I would say I phoned the Asthma UK helpline last week before the xmas break and spoke to a nurse there, she was fantastic and helped me go much more confidently into the drs to move us to the next stage, for us steroids and montelukast, and whilst this doesn't seem to be working it did at least push the dr to try the next thing, we have been fobbed off with "inhalers take a while to work" for over a year 😡 so do give them a call as they are very understanding and might help you work some things through. I hope you get some good news and a good night's sleep soon x

Thank you so much for your reply and I'm so sorry you are going through it too. Its so sad so many children are suffering like this. I hope the montekulast works for you. My daughter has been on it since September and it hasn't worked for her but I've heard it has for some children. We are going through another flare up at the moment. Took her to the walk in centre on the 27th and typically she didn't cough once while there so all her stats were fine, I argued with the Dr saying that's because she wasn't coughing at the time, he was so rude and refused to give her anything. We had a few awful nights after that and finally got some steriods for her, she's finished them now and they have helped through the night but she's still coughing a lot through the day. I recorded her coughing to show the Dr how bad she gets and she even said it was bad. The last time she had steriods was 2019 because they refuse to give them to her when she needs them. She is due a review in a week or so for her reflux medication but they havnt worked so will ask for something else. She hasn't even got a cough so they cant call it post nasal drip this time. I'm waiting for my mother in law to enquire at her work as she she works for spire as a nurse.

I have been wondering whether if not to give them a call, I think I will do.

I've bought a nebuliser too to see if that works but it says it won't be here till the end of January which is frustrating!!!

I really hope your little one is OK and you get sorted. Communities like this are good for support and it makes you realise you are not alone xx

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