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3 Year Old with Low Oxygen Saturation Levels.

My son is 3, and has been very healthy and active, he has stayed at home until now. We started him in daycare 3 days a week in February (purposefully waited until flu season was almost over). Since he started school he has been sick several times, mostly with upper respiratory infections. Last month he started with a runny nose, fever and then a cough that would not go away so we took him to the pediatrician they said his ears were a little red and I was shocked when they checked his oxygen level it was 83%. They put him on an antibiotic, steroid and albuterol treatments with a breathing machine and he got well quickly. He has done great for almost a month until last week he started with a runny nose and fever (so I do not think this is allergies or asthma) and then the cough started again so I decided to give him the albuterol treatments to try and avoid it getting worse, well his oxygen levels stayed up around 97% for the first few days, but then dropped again to 90-91%, so back to the doc and more antibiotics and more steriods and more breathing treatments, he is getting better, and we have an appoitment with the allergy/asthma specialist next week. All this to say has anyone experienced anything similar? I just don't think this is asthma or allergies because he is perfectly healthy between episodes with the viral stuff, it seems connected to being in school, but the low oxygen levels concern me because I don't think they should drop with "just a cold".

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This has happened more than once to my husband. Officially, he has no allergies or asthma, but he has a very difficult time with sinuses which leads to sinus infections. The low oxygen goes with the territory (we've called the ambulance because he becomes delusional from low oxygen). Unfortunately, none of the nose sprays/ meds work for him. The best for him has been the net t pot. My 5 yr old has similar symptoms and no meds work, so she takes sudafed daily. (lesser of 2 evils is the sudafed versus symptoms)

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Maybe the daycare or school has a mold problem. Why else would he be perfectly healthy and then after being in the new environment he is ill?

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This is exactly what my son had been going through! Only difference is that he started daycare at 3 months of age, and the cold and cough stuff started when he was around 8 months old. He too was put on antibiotics, steroids, Albuterol and finally once daily Pulmicort. Seemed like he would get well after a course of these meds, then within about 1 week he would be sick again. Was extremely frustrating!! His pedi told me that this is normal for a kid in daycare, and that it usually takes about 1 year of this before they start becoming immune to these little cold viruses. Also told me that kids in daycare get about 20 colds per year, and if you figure each cold lasts 2 weeks...well that is almost the entire year! My son is now 15 months old. The Pulmicort has really helped. Also, he ended up needing to get ear tubes due to constant ear infections. Since the tubes, he has not gotten sick at all. Could be that the tubes have helped, or that he has been in daycare now for about 1 year and is finally getting immune to all those germs! I am not a doctor, but it sounds to me like your son's situation is definitely connected to being in school. Since he stayed home for his first 3 years, he was not exposed to all those germs until recently. I think that once his immune system gets exposed to enough of these viruses, he will get sick less and less. As for the oxygen levels - it is possible that your son may really have asthma but because he hasn't been sick before it has never been diagnosed. With asthma, the smallest cold seems to go straight to the lungs and start causing lots of chest congestion. One of the things we found out with my son was that he was allergic to milk. Things were bad when he was on formula, but got worse when we switched him to whole milk at 1 year of age. Tried soy which didn't help, then tried rice milk. I really saw a big difference as far as less runny nose and congestion. Try not to worry - I really think this is because your son is now in school and getting exposed to stuff he hasn't been before! I know it's frustrating, but hang in there it will get better!! Good luck at the doctor appt coming up!

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My daughter has Chronic Lung Disease and used to get sick ALL the time. She was on O2 for over a year. We had the Lennox Clean Air System (hospital grade) installed in our home about 5 years ago and she doesn't have NEARLY the problems she used to have. It's almost like her lungs get a break from the harsh outside world and school air. I highly suggest that. If you're in the Spring area, the company who installed ours was called Airconditioning Outfitters of Texas. Best of luck. Keep your head up, I know it's frustrating.


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Maybe he has walking pneumonia? Has he had a chest xray? You cn demand it from your Dr. Just tell him you are not comfortable with how his treatment is progressing and you want a chest xray to rule out pneumonia.

Good Luck!

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sounds very familiar to the problems I had with my son. He does have asthma, but the problem we found out contributing to the saturation levels was reflux. He did not show any signs of reflux at all. He started making a strange noise when he was sleeping and my doctors kept saying that he was snoring. I am a therapist and brought a pulse oximeter home with me and he was dipping very low during his sleep. We were accumstomed to doing breathing treatments already and this was not helping. I ended up video taping him and taking him to the ENT the next morning. They did a scope and found that he had lesions from the top of his esophagus down to his stomach. Basically, he was "compensating" by closing his vocal cords in response to pain. He developed Stridor. The vocal cords did what they are ver basically designed to do, which is protect. The vibration for speaking is a bonus. This is why they responded so well to his compensating and masked any signs of reflux. I know this may sound crazy and may not relate to your case at all, but it may be worth checking. As for allergy and asthma, you have to stay ahead of it. We use "Little Noses" saline spray alot because it breaks up the mucus and keeps from getting backed and down in the chest. I was hesitant to use the prevention drugs, but they worked during the difficult seasons. The allergist is a great way to go because the slightest allergy to a food can show up looking like a cold or environmental allergy. Good news, when they start this early, it gets better. I have one two that have got better and one that started late and is getting worse. Good luck.

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Our daughter has the same problem. Kindergarten has been a nightmare. We thought this was something she would outgrow, but no luck yet. Pretty much everytime she gets a cold we are at the Dr. for the same treatment of steriods and antibiotics. We have found that the albuterol treatments don't have much affect until we get the steroid on board. Anytime she gets a cold we start with the treatments. I keep hoping we will be able to avoid the steroid. Just stay on top of it. We ended up in the hospital once. We have not seen a specialist yet. Please let me know what you are told. I am very curious. It was never recommended to us to see a specialist. Good luck. I know it can be very scarry.

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First of all, if you are blessed enough to have a SAHD/huband, let him stay at home with Dad.
Secondly, day cares are nortorious for spreading germs even with the best know defenses. At age 0 to 41/2 I am of the school of thought that children should be at home, they will get all the socialization required when they start school.
Thirdly, more than likely it is allergies and not asthma-I hope so anyway-I had asthma as a child and although I had no restrictions, except carpetless bedroom, no stuffed animals, no pictures on my walls, covered pillows and mattresses. It was still rough when I had an attack.
Lastly, when he gets that cough, try using Vicks Vapor Rub first-spread it on the bottom of his feet and put socks on at bedtime. I do this with both my grandchildren ages 7 and 11 months, and it works great. Try this for a couple of days, if the cough does not subside then try th breathing treatments. When I had my attacks, the doctor would not prescribe inhalers, he said because he did not want me to become dependent on them. Fortunately, for me I grew out of it.

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Hi R.,
My oldest daughter has severe asthma, but she ONLY has asthma episodes when she is sick with some sort of virus or bacterial infection. The rest of the time she is fine--she plays sports, runs, swims, etc. no problem. Unfortunately, her immune system is compromised (not sure if this is a product of the asthma or something else going on), so she gets sick ALL THE TIME. When she was 3 I had to pull her out of preschool 3 months before the school year ended because I couldn't get her well. Her pedi thought perhaps if I could keep her home and illness-free for a few months, she'd be better when she went back. No luck--she went back the next year and got sick just as often. And, when she gets sick, she always gets sicker than anybody else--other kids have a fever of 101, she has a fever of 105. Taking her to the allergist/immunologist was the best thing I ever did. We were with a pulmonologist from the time she was five until she was 8 but she never got much better. The allergy/immunology specialist was able to determine that she doesn't suffer from allergies (she had been unncecessarily taking allergy meds) but does have severe asthma along with immune deficiencies. She is on a daily asthma prevention medicine and has medicines and a nebulizer that we use at home at the first sign of a runny/stuffy nose. Thankfully, we've never had to hospitalize her. She seemed much better when she got to be about 9-10, but then last summer we moved from San Antonio to Katy and she got worse again, probably because of the new environment and larger (junior high) school--she is now being exposed to more new germs. We are back with an allergy/immunology guy, and he has done a couple of things to try and get her back on track, but if she still gets sick so much next cold and flu season, we will probably have to start some gamma globulin therapy to get her immune system working better. I have to tell you that it is NO FUN, and hopefully they will find something else going on with your son that is easier to treat, but if not, please rest assured that if you work closely with your specialist, he will get better and there is 'light at the end of the tunnel.' Please let us know what happens. Best of luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful

I suggest you always follow your mommy heart and brain. If you feel something is not right, have a heart to heart with the doctor.

I will tell you our daughter had asthma and ear infections. It felt like she was always ill. Drove me crazy. She was also in day care, but I knew it was not the problem. We had neighbors with kids who stayed at home all day also with these symptoms. We would go to the doctor and I always felt like there were vague answers and diagnosis. I started a chart on our calender to document her symptoms. I included weather, diet and activities and treatments with the nebulizer .

I noticed in the springs and summers the mowing of grass and the dry weather with all of the dust was just as bad as in the spring and fall with all of the rain bringing mold. We tried to keep her in the house or get her out of the neighborhood on Saturday mornings since that is when most people mowed their yards or blew leaves in our neighborhood. We dusted the floors in our house as often as possible.

We decided to make her bedroom a safe place for her to breath.. We only had wood floors. We washed her bedding at least once a week. We only had mini blinds so we could keep them clean. We also purchased a Hunter electric filter just for her room. It was a life saver. From the moment we had that filter, her health changed. The company suggests you change the filter every 4 to 6 weeks. I found that in Austin, we had to change it every 3 weeks. It really was amazing. We also kept her bedroom door closed when she was not in there.

I was finally able to convince my husband to ok ear tubes. He hates hospitals and did not want to have the procedure done. After I was able to show him her hearing loss, my husband took a Valium and did great, our daughter
was also great.
Hope your little one will feel better.

1 mom found this helpful

This has happened more than once to my husband. Officially, he has no allergies or asthma, but he has a very difficult time with sinuses which leads to sinus infections. The low oxygen goes with the territory (we've called the ambulance because he becomes delusional from low oxygen). Unfortunately, none of the nose sprays/ meds work for him. The best for him has been the net t pot. My 5 yr old has similar symptoms and no meds work, so she takes sudafed daily. (lesser of 2 evils is the sudafed versus symptoms)

1 mom found this helpful

when your kid has asthma-- coughing is the body's way of getting more oxygen. albuterol treatments are medicine that opens up the airways bigger. the runny nose and fever might actually be secondary to the cough.

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When your child is sick it is not unusual for respirations to be short and fast. This may be effecting his oxygen level as well. When my daughter was 2 yrs. old, she started a two day a week school. She soon became ill. She would get a virus that would cause her to have ear infections that would then cause high fever and seizures. We would get her well and send her back. I am self employed. I arrived early a little late one day to pick her up. When I walked in a teacher was changing her child on top of the small activities table. She did not disinfect after changing the diaper. This was also the table in which they ate lunch. I took note of this. I also noticed when I picked up my daughter, the teachers had there purses and were leaving. I was perplexed by this. I worked at a church nursery in college. We had a cleaning process after the kids left. We would stay to prep the room for the next class. We went through more illness and seizures due to high fever and I finally pulled her out 8 weeks before the session ended. I spoke to the director about their cleaning protocol and she acted as if I was overreacting. (I owned a cleaning/janitorial service at the time) When I pulled her out she stayed well. I figured I might, as well work with her well then be off when she was sick. I found another school the next school session and it was fabulous with little illness. I have told this long story to give you a picture that your school may not be disinfected. It may appear to be clean, but the surfaces tell otherwise. I would go ahead and seek you doctors opinion. I wish you the best.

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I understand your concern for sure. My daughter had a very similar experience. She would be perfectly healthy and then she would get a runny nose and a day or two later she would have a high fever and labored breathing (and low oxygen levels). After 2 trips to the ER (complete with steroids, antibiotics, and breathing treatments) her doctor suggested we try a daily dose of steriod breathing treatments. I was completely against it because I really don't like to give my children medicine unless I know they really need it. Her doctor explained that a dose of the steroids that she got in the hospital is about the same dose as she would get in 6 months of daily treatments. Since she had already been to the ER twice in 6 months, I agreed to give it a try. It is probably the best thing I ever did for her. She hasn't had one dose of antibiotics in a year and a half, she has had two runny noses during that time. I really didn't believe she had asthma either but I can tell you the daily steroid has really helped her. I hope your son will be better soon.

1 mom found this helpful

I can't comment on your specific problem as my daughter didn't have the asmathic symptons. Our ongoing problem was a perpetual runny nose and a 6-month long ear infection--that led to tubes in both ears at a year old. I second the poster(s) that suggested something at the daycare could be causing a reaction.

I changed my daughter's daycare a few months ago and the runny nose she had had continuously for at least 4 months was GONE within 4 days. I was certain that she would have a few little bouts with illness as she was being exposed to a whole new set of germs, but there has been NOTHING in three months.

At a minimum, talk to the director about the sanitizers that they are using and the maintenance schedule on the air filters on the HVAC system. I found out that one of the teachers was using aerosol sanitizers to excess and it wasn't only my daughter being affected.

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If your son had been very healthy until daycare, and now has a hard time staying well, if it were me, I would be looking to leave that daycare. Hate to say that---but I always look for those connections.

Not sure if you are still on this site. I just ran across it since I search for information that might help my grandchild who has pulmonary hypertension. This condition is usually not diagnosed early on in children. I hope he doesn't have it but since this email is over 2 years old I hope you have found a solution to your son's problem. If not please ask the doctor to check for pulmonary hypertension....the oxygen level triggered it for me. My granddaughter at 6 months passed and had to go to the emergency room and still they didn't know what it was until they did an echocardiogram.
Good luck.

My 4 and a half year old is on antibiotics once a month for bronchitis and a
couple of times mild pneumonia. He takes 2 steroid breathing treatments a day, an allergy pill, although he didn't show any allergies when tested, a steroid nasal spray. We also had his tonsils and adnoids taken out. He started preschool in May 2010. This pattern continues with every virus he gets.
I have bought a pulseoximeter to check him just for my peace of mind. I am considering having him checked be a pulminary specialist for some type of lung disorder because I am a little panicked about this situation.
Looking for some suggestions for help.
S. in CA

yes my son is almost 4 and have been dealing with this since before he was a year old! breathing treatments are usually all winter long then during the summer when he is playing to active or sick! he just got a steroid shot today and was prescribed a oral steroid plus breathing treatments of albuterol and pulmocort all year round as needed! just have patients! i have asthma myself and so does almost everyone in my family so it didn't surprise me when he did just hoping my daughter doesnt't

Maybe the daycare or school has a mold problem. Why else would he be perfectly healthy and then after being in the new environment he is ill?

Has your pediatrician tested for anythign else to rule anything out?

I realize a lot of health issues with kids can be hit or miss but there are a lot he can be tested for...I would start with ruling out flu, and RSV...Then I would move to anything else upper respiratory related including ALL types of pneumonia (requires a chest x-ray), there is a version of pneumonia called "walking pneumonia" in which symptoms can appear to be something different or can appear to come and go...For instance, walking pneumonia caused me to have a positive TB test as a small child. I had not outward appearing symptoms other than the occasion cold...

It could be your pediatrician wants to rule out allergies ina concrete way, so as to feel better about moving into more invasive testing...

Talk to you pediatrician, explain that you do not believe it is allergies and that seeing the allergist may be a waste of everyone's time...What else can be ruled out...Or even that you will see the allergist to rule that out, but you believe it to be something more complex than that, could she rule other bronchial problems out with testing and a chest x-ray pls.

Good Luck... ;-)

Yes I have experience this with my child. Although my son is only 16mths old he has a condition called bronchial malacia of the esophagus and airways. Its where they usually have all the symptoms you explained above. Its where there is not alot of cartilage in the airways so they are kind of floppy. Mine has constant fevers, runny noses, numerous times where his oxygen saturation level drops everything you have explained. They way they diagnosed mine was my xrays

My 16 month old is doing the same thing. He (my son) does for a fact have asthma. His levels are normal until he gets sick. The reason his o2 level drops is because having asthma make your lungs weak and when he gets sick the lungs have to work twice as hard and they get tired which makes it hard to produce the oxygen a person/child without asthma does. He is in the hospital now and has been on oxygen for 3 days, albuterol treatments every 2 hours and a steroid 2 times a day, plus antibiotic and iv fluids. His levels are between 93 and 91 when he is awake and active but when he sits still or is asleep it drops as low as 76.

Andrographis is a natural cure for upper respiratory infections and it also comes in liquid form for infants. I found out about this on Discovery Health Channel and I had pneumonia. I had no health insurance and no antibiotics. I went to the Health Food store and Bought some I took 300 mg. 2 times a day, after the third day it was like a weight was lifted off of my chest. The second day my nose ran like mad, and I coughed up junk all day and into the night. I woke up in the middle of the night and said OMG I can breath again.I gave it to my boyfriends 77 year old Dad that had suffered from reoccurring pneumonia and the antibiotics quit working. After a week of being on it he said he felt 40 years younger. He is now 80 and is off of all his heart medicine and only takes multivitamins with extra iron to keep his red blood cell count up. It worked for me and him and we are a believers in it.

Go to a naturopathic doctor. My daughter had a terrible cough for 3 years and was given so many antibiotics and stronger and stronger steroids and it wouldn't go away. They said it was something to do with allergies and asthma. Our new insurance wouldn't cover anything respiratory, probably because they saw the futility of it all.

My daughter was given probiotics, digestive enzymes, etc. since her digestive system was so screwed up. In 2 weeks, her cough went away! Now she doesn't cough at all! Let me know if you want her doctor's name. She is in Austin.

Hi R..
I have "been there, done that" with my child. My doc and allergist said 91% is the borderline for admitting to hospital. I'm short on time to type this, but really wanted to put in my two 1/2 cents. We struggled with this same thing for 2 years after moving to Central Texas with my child.

Go to the allergist and/or pediatricain and get an "Asthma Control Plan" which shows what to do for different "zones" such as "Green" (mostly normal breathing, with occasional Albuteral/Xopenex use) or "Yellow" (coughing, wheezing, complaining of tight chest, with Albuterol uset every 2 to 4 hours) or "RED" (skin pulling in between ribs or at base of throat when breathing. VERY dangerous time. Give oral steroid as directed by doc, nebulizer with albuterol, call doctor and get child to ER.)

I always waited too long before reacting. Get albuterol going as soon as your symptoms start. Our 1st symptom is a runny nose like a faucett. Your child will not have "just a cold."

We currently use inhalers for the twice daily steroid (Flovent). There is a spacer used so the child does not have to try to inhale, just breath normally.

My current pediatrician upped the dosage of the Flovent to 110 mcg twice daily. This kept us out of the ER last year and we only had 1 ear infection.

I have to leave on a trip right now, but just wanted to let you know this stuff. We were in the ER every autumn/winter month for 2 years before we got on the 110mcg Flovent twice daily.

Oral Steroids are bad on a long-term basis. The inhaled are much safer. However, you should always have the oral steroid onhand in case of emergencies. Have all the meds in a closet or pantry clearly labeled for use.

Please send me a message and let me know how your son is doing and with any more questions. Take care. T..

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