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18 Month Old Fights the Breathing Treatment

Ever since my sons first cold, he has been wheezing. Everytime he gets a cold it goes straight to his lungs. (We always seem to have a check up right when he gets a cold) He is always in good spirits and it has not affected his eating. I have rarely heard the wheezing, just the doctor. When the cold goes away we are back to business as usual. He has no allergies or any other problems. The doctor wants him to have Albuteral every 4-6 hours and a breathing treatment of Pulmicort once a day. He fights these treatments by kicking, screaming and holding his breath. I have tried to give it to him in front of the TV, still didn't work. I tried sneaking in his room last night but he woke up crying. The doctor said it may create long term damage if we don't treat this. Does anyone have any ideas of how to get this treatment done? or are there alternatives? These treatments are really wearing me down.

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My son was started on breathing treatments at a young age also and he didnt like it at first but the dr told me that when the child is crying or screaming it actually works the best since they are continously sucking in air. Eventually he got over it and we made a game out of it. Give him time and he will come around with it. Good Luck!!!

E., I agree with one of the other moms, my now 6 year old had asthma from the time he was born. He has out grown it now thank goodness. But he had to have breathing treatments all the time. He even had the kid friendly mask and it still didnt work so I used just the plain mouth peice. And it worked so much better and what I did was let him mess with my husbands video game system while he did the breathing system. He was more involved with what was going on the tv and that he was moving the characters then what was in his mouth. Good Luck I know it is a challenge.

We had to do this with my son as well. I put him in the high chair so that he's a captive audience.

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Hi E.,
My son has asthma and has been on flovent since he was 8 months. He is now almost 4 and every time we have tried to ween him off he's been hospitalized. It has been very frustrating. We've used a nebulizer and he has been on lots of steroids.
I just got to the point where I decided enough was enough and I went in search of alternative ways to deal with it. I started asking myself what could be causing the problems since his diet had been changed and we had found a new home for our cat.
What I found was the Body Ecology Diet. Basically in a nut shell it was created for those of us who have an overgrowth of yeast in our systems. When our children are born they should be innoculated with all the healthy bacteria in our bodies, but when we don't have it to pass on, they're digestive systems don't form properly and they can get what is called leaky gut. What this means is that there are places along the digestive track that are permeable and when certain foods are eaten they slip through the holes and into the bloodstream causing allergic reactions and other ailements. The overgrowth yeast wipes out what healthy bacteria we do have in our systems making it very difficult for our bodies to digest food properly and/or heal themselves.
Even an 18th month old is smart. My son used to fight the treatments too. I wish I had known then what I know now. I urge you to please go to the body ecology website www.bodyecology.com and take the candida quiz. I also would urge you to get your child on the probiotic drink that it suggests. You can make it at home. Asthma will not correct itself, but we can correct it with proper diet and nutrition. Get the book, read it- join the messsageboard and poke around. And feel free to email me if you have any questions.

3 moms found this helpful

we just held down our sons arms. nobody liked it. but the issue of what was more important just ruled. safety and health first. it helped me feel ok with it. we only have had to do it in winter also. wasn't sure how old this child was... if it was an 18m old. i have a friend that does it while he's sleeping too.... just put in front of face and run a fan for noise all night so he doesn't notice.

My son has needed neb treatments on and off since he at RSV at 3 mo. He is 3 years now. He went for almost 2 years without needing any treatments, but started wheezing a few weeks ago with a cold. We did try to make it a game, we called it his astronaut mask and did it in front of the TV at times. You have a 4 yr old, I have two of those, so I used them to my advantage having them show him how to do it- since the younger ones want to do whatever their sisters are doing, he was a little more open to it. When he was younger, I would do it while he was sleeping. I would turn the machine on across the room or in the hallway while he fell asleep, that way turning on the machine wouldn't be a sudden new noise in the room to rouse his sleep. Once he was asleep, we would put the medicine in and do the treatment

I know it is hard! Good luck

Dear E.,

i am a mother of two daughters with ashtma and i also have it myself. I also have a child at my job that has a hard time. I know your son is only 18 months but i found it to be easier and helped calm them down when i went to walmart or any drug store and bought flavored chap sticks . I rub it on the mask where the child can smell it and i put enopugh on it to make the smell stay on it until the treatment is over. I have also tried the mouth piece and let my kids chew on it . I think the biggest thing for them and myself is the taste of the medicine that bothers us . I hope this might be of some help .. But always remember to ask your dr for the options of different meds or go for a second opinion . I did and we where changed from albuterol to xopenex which doesnt make our hearts race s fast and we shake less. Best of luck. Jenny

My son was started on breathing treatments at a young age also and he didnt like it at first but the dr told me that when the child is crying or screaming it actually works the best since they are continously sucking in air. Eventually he got over it and we made a game out of it. Give him time and he will come around with it. Good Luck!!!

When we had to put my son on Flovent (inhaler w/ a mask), at around age 2, he fought this too. My husband and I had to hold him, one held his head, the other his body, so he could get the breathing treatment. It was a nightmare. Even worse, he needed this during the day so I had to have his preschool staff administer it. I warned them and the first afternoon picking him up they said they prepared themselves but he did fine. What?! Seriously?! After that, he didn't fight us anymore.

So, perhaps having another relative try it without you around might help.

I'm also a big advocate of preparing your child and explaining to them what to expect. I don't think I did that with him originally with the inhaler so maybe that scared him. Usually we do though, even when it comes to shots ("It's going to hurt, but Mommy will be right here holding your hand. You have to be really still though 'cause if you move, it'll hurt more. So let's be really still together so it only hurts a little bit, and then it'll be all over.")

Good luck.

We had to do this with my son as well. I put him in the high chair so that he's a captive audience.

Hi. My son had the same issue. He is 7 now but we started with his inhalers, etc. when he was just 3 years old.

I would recommend getting a second opinion, because this is a lot of medicine and for sure it affects behavior. I am not not recommending holding off on the medicine (we did medicate my son) but just get a second opinion from our WONDERFUL allergist - Dr. Paul Detjen in Winnetka. He has never steered us wrong. My friends, whose children have the most severe asthma and allergies, only go to see Dr. Detjen. His number is ###-###-####. Good luck!

Hi E.!
I am sorry to hear you are going through this, the treatments are no fun, and pretty much every child I know that has had to have them has fought them. My little girl has had to take them from the time she was 7 or 8 months. She is 4 now. I am wondering if your nebulizer came with a mask instead of the tube. That is what I have used for my little girl ever since we began..you can tighten the mask and it fits over there nose and mouth. Our mask looks like a fish..(child friendly).

It can cause scarring on his lungs if he continues to wheez...causing more problems in the future. When I asked the Dr. what to do about the fits, they told me better an upset child, (for a few minutes) than a child that has lung problems long term.

The good news is, he will eventually realize this is what we have to do, and whether he likes it or not, it will be over. I know it seems like forever when you are doing them...but it will get better if you are consistent with it, and him.
When he fights you you say "NO" and say "it will be done soon"
Try reading to him.....tickling his back....sitting w/ him watching t.v....hold him....anything that can get you through 15-20 min.

This is a "have to thing" not really an option! GOOD LUCK
and if you need to talk, or have any other questions, feel free to send me a private message.


My daughter had to do breathing treatments starting about the same age, we allowed her to put the mediecine in to contanier and turn on the machine and then I would sit and read to her, as she got older she did it all herself including the reading. By the time she was about 5yrs.old she no longer needed them and has always played sports and is a healthy 17 yr.old high school soccer player, with mild allergies. Good luck.
Alann A.

Have you tried letting him be the big boy and hold it. My son fought his nebulizer treatments as well the few times that we had to give him those, kept pulling the mask off his face, etc. He hated it tons. He pulled so hard, he broke on of the pieces and we had to replace it. So finally, I tried letting him hold it himself and that seemed to help. I strapped him in his high chair and turned on his favorite cartoon and then told him that since he was a big boy, that he could hold it himself and he really did pretty well. I mean, he doesn't hold it on there the entire time and you have to keep reminding him to put it to his mouth, but it is better than fighting him the whole way. Hopefully it works! Good Luck!!

Play a game with him you put in your mouth and said boy this is great and then said it your trun and he should be better at it . My 1 year old like to play the game and then i can't get it back.From ____@____.com

I have been giving my son albuterol since 6 months and have been giving him Pulmicort twice a day since April. My son is now 17 months. He went through this and sometimes still doesn't like his treatments. He loves watching fans so I have the fan going in his room to help distract him. His big sister (4) sings and dances to him which makes him laugh so he gets big breaths of medicine. I sing various songs to him. We play "This little piggy" which he loves. We have 4 extra masks from being in the hospital I let him play with those so he has something in his hands so he's not pulling the one off his face. Our newest thing is that we have this fiber optic light that changes colors and spins around. Kinda looks like a mushroom top and he likes to watch the colors at night. I hope these suggestions help!

Hi E.. I am a respiratory therapist, and it is difficult to listen to your child cry throughout these treatments, but keep in mind when he cries he takes a deep breath and the medicine gets right to his lungs. They have come out with a new nebulizer that is called 3 minute neb, we us them at the hospital, they seem to work pretty well. Ask your doctor about it or where you got your neb machine (health equipment store) The nebs at home do take forever, but trying it for a little while will help. This time of year is bad for young kids with the changes in the weather. Your doing a great job, keep trying he will tolerate them soon???

Hi, my two-year-old is on the exact same treatment and has been since he was a few months old. My doctor started him on Singulair about a year ago -- it sounds like this might me an alternative for your son. It is a powder that you give them straight up. It presents its own challenges in adminstering, but might be better than the breathing treatments. I sometimes nebulize my son when he is in his high chair eating and watching TV. I realize he might not be getting as much as if he were concentrating on the treatment alone, but it is better than nothing. good luck!

Dera E.,

My daughter was born 3 1/2 months early & came home on oxygen & was under the specific care of a pulminologist for about 1 year after release from the NICU--as she got older the breathing treatments were more & more difficult & she fought them--I tried TV (didnt work) but what I found to work thru 3/4 of the treatments would be to sing as I held her on my lap & really look into her eyes---I am a little confused about the use of these meds from your doctor. The albuterol is in an emergency situation to open up lungs, so should only be used when there is specific gurgling, wheezing & whistling. The Pulmacort I used 2x's daily as a preventative measure...as Lia got older I would listen to her chest & back with my ear or a stethascope & see if I heard anything resembling wheezing & whistling & thats when I would start Albuterol.. I tried not to overly use these & they really helped when I needed them, but my daughters Pulminologist stopped the Pulmacort 2x' daily after about 10 months & her pediatician said to only start it again when I heard night-time coughing & use the Albuterol with my discretion.(if I needed to open up lungs immediately) I guess due to all the issues I had with my daughter, they left a lot up to me as a parent. I have not given Lia Pulmacort or Albuterol in over a year & she is able to fight thru her colds/coughs pretty well. (I watch & listen to her like a hawk, espceially during winter) Try & let your son hold the mouth-piece too--that helped a little....my best advice is to get in tune with the wheezing your doctor says he hears & identify it for yourself.. Pulmoacort is a steroid used as a preventaive measure & Albuterol is used to open up lung passages immediately( more of an emergency measure)I still have both at my house in stock with my nebulizer, but hope I dont have to use them this winter either.

Are you using a nebulizer with a mask? My son started breathing treatments at 4 months old and at some point he decided he didn't like them. Some options if you are using a nebulizer--let him hold the mask on his face without the band around his head, look for a cute dragon looking mask made for kids to be used with the nebulizers, let your son to the nebulizer on and off when it is done. It was a long time ago and these are some of the things I remember.

First thing first. My prayers go out to you and your family. This is a very challenging situation. My daughter started around 18 mos and continued until 7. (3 to 4 x a day, depending on her health). It is not easy, but it has to be done. The crazy part of it is that she now looks fondly at her time when we played "dinosaur", her favorite mask looked like a dinosaur and the mist looked like smoke to her.

Think of this time as an opportunity that most people do not get. You have several times a day where you get to just snuggle, sing, read, watch tv etc with your little guy. Kids can read your emotions and anxiety. If you act like it is a special time, soon you will realize that it is. Your baby needs this medicine and like all babies, he need you. Have your husband take the evening treatments as his opportunity to be with your son alone. Eventually your baby will be able to be left alone while he reads or what ever on his own. You will miss the time where you can just hold him. We all try to multi-task, but truly try to do nothing but be with you son during his treatments. This will relieve plenty of the fight, who doesn't want to snuggle with mom, dad or care giver.

Also, I removed all toxins, pertoleum, etc. from everyday cleaners, detergents and such from my home. I know it helped in the long run. I use nothing, to this day, but Melaluca products. There are now many alternatives found even in most grocery stores. They may seem expensive, but actually are way less expensive because they are so concentrated. If you want more info, feel free to contact me.

Best of luck to you and do not give up! You can do this (and alot more) than you are aware.

My son had the same problem when he was about your son's age. We have been very lucky that he has grown out of it although his lungs are still a weak spot for him. We had to give him Albuterol. I don't know how you are administering the meds, but we found that he absolutely hated the mask. We were able to get him to cooperate by using a tube and putting it just in front of his nose and mouth. And yes, he still hated it but at least he would let us give it to him. Sneaking in and doing it when he was asleep did work for us. Make sure he's very sound asleep and then turn the machine on outside his room. Good luck.

My daughter started needing breathing treatments periodically when she was 20 months old. What worked for us ... a special favorite video that was only watched during the treatment. For us it was Elmo, but I've recently purchased a video called "20 Trucks" for my 2 year old nephew and he loves it. I also let her be involved as much as possible with the process (ie. turning the machine on and off when it was time, holding the mask on her face -- or choosing to just hold the "stick" in her mouth, letting her "tap" the vessel when it was near empty). Any small way that you can let him feel like he has some power and control over what is happening will probably make the treatments go smoother.

We have also recently seen a homeopathic doctor for her symptoms, but it is too soon to tell if there is any improvement. I am scared to have her on so much medication at this young of an age and wanted to try an alternative method.

I feel your pain! We give my daugter albuterol as needed every 4-6 hours and pulmicort 2x per day. She hated it! We have been doing this since she was 10 months old. She is 16 months now. We have found that when we have included her in setting everything up and putting on her favorite show she does much better. We have her turn the machine on, and off when we are done. We let her take breaks in between. (not sure if that is ok, but if it keeps her from fighting us, it is worth it) I try to sing and act silly as I hold her. It took a while, but she is finally getting better with it. she still has her moments, like this morning, where she got half a treatment, but I figure it is better than no treatment at all.
Hope this helps!!!

Hi E.,

Sorry your son and you have to go through this. I wouldn't skip the treatments though if they are recommended by the doc. I second what Jennifer suggested as far making sure you explain what is going to happen before and also trying to have someone else in the family administer the treatment. Sometimes kids just give their moms the hardest time. He senses that you already feel guilty about having to do this and then plays on that. Its hard, but you are doing the right thing by giving him the medicine. Some other suggestions I have would be to try everything and anything! Put some head phones on him and have him listen to music. Let him pick a special snack or toy after he does the treatment. Pretend to give your self or one of his dolls the treatment so he sees that it doesn't hurt. Maybe you can give him the treatment in his car seat while dad or another person drives you around until he gets used to it. (I don't remember if these need to be plugged in) Basically just get it over with as quick as possible and don't waste time arguing about it with him. The sooner he realizes it isn't negotiable and it doesn't hurt, the easier it will get. Also try giving the treatment while he is confined in a seat like the highchair that has a seat belt. He is probably going to protest (loudly!) but you just have to get through it. Good Luck and just remember you are doing whats best for him as his mom! (Easier said than done I know)

Hi! I have a 19 mo. old who has the same issues. Our doctor suggested waving it under their mouth/nose instead of using a mask, also I don't know if your child uses a pacifire or not, but they also make a pacifire attachment for the neb.

Hi E.,

My daughter was one year old when she got RSV and had to be hospitalized for a short period, and needed regular breathing treatments for a couple of weeks thereafter. Since then we've had a few periods of time where she has needed them, but it has gotten better over time, both her not needing the treatments, and her attitude toward them. For your part you have to be as matter of fact and as consistent as possible. It's a health issue. Think of it like a diaper change. It just has to be done. You've already gotten some good suggestions about how to make it more pleasant for him from some of the other moms, I just wanted to reaffirm what you are already doing. Hang in there. It can be really rough to have a child with breathing issues, and tiring! Hopefully over time his issues will resolve or improve.

We have had similar issues with colds triggering asthma symptoms. My son in now 2.5 but we have been doing treatments since he was under 1. He is on Pulmicort regularly during cold/flu season and at the onset of any cold symptoms any other time of the year. We also use albuteral between pulmicort as needed. I can't say it has always been easy but has become part of our routine. Currently we do all treatments in front of the tv. We also previously read books. We have pretended to give a stuffed animal treatments. My son thought that was funny. I do think you will find it will get easier. I agree with a previous poster in terms of trying to explain the process and the steps to the treatment. Good luck.

E., I agree with one of the other moms, my now 6 year old had asthma from the time he was born. He has out grown it now thank goodness. But he had to have breathing treatments all the time. He even had the kid friendly mask and it still didnt work so I used just the plain mouth peice. And it worked so much better and what I did was let him mess with my husbands video game system while he did the breathing system. He was more involved with what was going on the tv and that he was moving the characters then what was in his mouth. Good Luck I know it is a challenge.

As someone who has battled asthma her entire life, that seems like a lot of treatments for wheezing that only the doctor hears. Since you seem to have reservations yourself, I'd definitely get a second opinion. In the meantime, simply holding the neb near his face and letting him breathe naturally should get enough of the medication into his system. That's how we medicate my nephew when he has breathing problems.

I know you have many suggestions, and even one at least that I read referring to diet, such as body ecology(first time I've heard about it). In the past I had horrible asthmatic sumptoms, and couldn't even leave the house without an asthma medication and spacer, just in case I would need it... having some kind of coughing attack where my lungs would just close up and I couldn't breathe. I even had those treatments you are speaking of, as a teenager, adn I hated the way the medicine made me feel- anxious and shaky.

All of that changed once I started on the Eat Right For Your Blood Type program. I do not use any medication at all right now, and I only have some congestion and issues like that if I eat things that I know will cause me trouble.

I am so relieved to be able to be in control of my health, and it is as simple as eating right for your blood type, and much less invasive that those treatments and medication.
Do yourself and your baby a favor. I really hope you do. I have been eating this way for the last eight years and it really works. It is specific to each person, so it will help.

Been there, done that. I think the child instinctively knows that the treatments just arent' natural. My son was in the hopital 5 times with Asthm by the time he was 1 year old. It made sense to me to find the cause, not the curem because the cure would be fixed if I found out what was causing the asthma.

First place I started was the household cleaners in the house and the laudry products which he was exposed to 24/7
because he slept on the sheets, wore the jammies and wrapped up in the blankets

I found out that one of the causes was the Monoethanolamine ( MEA) in ALL the laudry detergents I was using. for my clothes and his clothes. My son was nearly 5 when I figured this out. Not one person or physician ever suggested figuring out what caused it, it was MY efforts. I pass this information on to you in order to make a difference in your families life. I found some great products that have been "green" from the time they hit the market, 52 years ago. They are even recommended in a new book that just came out valled Green Goes with Everything.

So I'm sorry I can't help you with your immediate problem, but perhaps wiht a different view point, you can prevent the situation form occuring at all, which is what I would think would be more appealing anyway. Let me know if you want to know more.

I wanted to let you know that I feel your pain, my daughter takes these and has been for the last 4 years, we have done them since she was 8 months old every time she gets a cold.
One suggestion that i have is do you have special books or toys that he loves you can get him something special that he can only use/play with during treatments, or a special movie that is only for treatment time, that really helped us, also I am not sure if you have the masks with characters that seemed to help also we have a dragon right now used to have a fish. lastly let him help you with it, by helping put the medicine in it or turning the machine on and off. the more you do it the easier it will be, i have had my fair share of pin down breathing treatments and it is not easy and i feel bad for them, but it does help them breath better. Good luck if you have any other questions feel free to ask.

My son, who is now 5 years old, hated to do the nebulizer treatments. He would fight and cry. We had a fish mask from the doctors office and I would call it the "fishy". I would sit with him and let him watch his favorite show while he was doing the "fishy" and that was a treat for him but also a distraction from the medication and noise. I would turn off the TV if he took off his mask and he would put it back on to get the TV on. It took awhile, but now he is use to the fishy and doesn't mind it.

We've actually had pretty good luck when we let our little one chew on the plastic mouth piece versus using the mask. I think the mask scared her more than anything. Also we let her play with her toys while we're giving her the treatment. My doctor told us that we could hold the mouth piece under her nose as long as she was breathing in the medicine it was fine. Good Luck!

The first time we had to give my son a nebulizer treatment was a complete nightmare, but we worked through it by trying to make it less scary...we wore the mask and acted silly, let him see himself in the mirror with the dinosaur mask on, let him push the "on" switch, etc. Now, he's fine with the nebulizer...especially since he is allowed to watch a favorite video during the treatment. We also have been giving him special "puffer beans" (1 jelly belly) after he uses his inhaler every day. It really helps motivate him and it's especially fun (for him) because each one is a surprise flavor. Maybe try to tie the treatment to something positive during and after...maybe one parent holds him and helps him with the treatment while the other reads a book, makes a play with puppets, rolls a ball back and forth, etc. Afterwards, he can choose a favorite activity, a small treat, sticker or stamp. Good luck.

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