28 answers

Asthma in a 2 Year Old??

My son, Nate, has had a cough (sounds like a bronchitis or croupe type cough; hollow, not mucus-y, sounds like a "goose honk") for almost a year and a half. Our ped had upper GI done last year, saw a little reflux and put him on Zantac for a month. That did nothing. Then they did a chest x-ray, which was clear. So this past October we saw a pediatric pulmonary specialist, as the referal of our pediatrician. Her 2 ideas were it is either reflux that wasn't resolved/healed or possible allergies (but she thinks he is too young to be developing allergies). So he has been on Zantac and Prevacid for 3 months now, and it has done nothing. I have noticed that this cough appears more often when he is very upset/crying hard, laughing hard, or after running around like a maniac! I am starting to think it might be asthma. However, he does not seem to be in any sort of distress when he coughs. My sister has asthma, so there is a family history. Any thoughts on this would be very helpful. We see the ped pulmonary specialist on Jan 30. I want him off of the reflux meds. I'm hoping I can get some advice on how to speak w/ the Dr...I don't think this is allergies or reflux. Any ideas, or moms out there whose children developed asthma at an early age?? Sorry this was so long-winded! Thanks in advance!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Hi Ladies! We had our visit with the pediatric pulmonary specialist this morning. She took him off the reflux meds since they have not helped his cough. We had a chest x-ray done, which was clear. She wrote prescriptions for and albuterol inhaler & spacer, as well as Singulair. The inhaler is more of a just in case sort of thing, as he has not been "diagnosed" with asthma...but if this inhaler stops his coughing attacks when he has then, well then we know we're dealing with asthma. I also feel better having it in the house b/c I certainly don't want to be unprepared if these coughing fits are a precursor to an asthma attack.
Rather than filling & using the Singulair right away, he is having blood work done tomorrow to test for allergies to milk, eggs, nuts, pollen, dustmites, dogs, cats, and the like, and then it will be decided as to whether or not he needs the Singulair. I am happy with how this visit turned out and satisfied with the fact that we are testing for things, rather than just doing "trial & error" with different meds. Thank you all for your wonderful input and advice!!

Featured Answers

When he coughs try taking him out into the cold air (car rides in the winter work), or try making the bathroom steamy and sit with him in there. To me it sounds like croup and can last off and on for a couple of years. My middle one got croup when she was three and had it off and on for the winter, for her we had to take her out and drive around in the car in the cold. We only used the heat enough to take the chill off the car & left a window open about an inch. Usually the coughing stopped in about 10-15 minutes. Good luck & best wishes.

Hi Michelle.

My son is almost 2 and a half. The Doctors resist diagnosising asthma until they are three years old. My son started to get asthma type symptoms, rattling ans wheezing at the begining of October when he had cold symptoms. Since then I fought with the doctor for a nebulizer and finally got one so that I do not have to take him to the emergency room for treatments. the inhaler even with the mask just did not cut it. I do take his inhaler if we go out but use the nebulizer at home only as needed. He has had three bouts all when he had a cold. Try for the nebulizer. My son in using alebutrol(sp?) as needed. If you get to it quick in the early stages then less treatments are needed.

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My 5 year old daughter was finally diagnoised with asthma at 1 and 1/2. We couldn;t understand why during her first two winters (she was born in July) she kept coughing and spitting up this white sticky phlem. Her dad has asthma and after her second year of doing this her doctor was hesitant to say she had asthma. We also found out she has allergies. She is allergic to dustmites, mold and mildew which are very prevelent in the winter months since we shut the windows. She is on pulmicort, xopenex, zrytec and singular. When she was 3ish she started making this weird sound from her trachea. She was like gasping for air, but she wasn't. We rushed her to the ped who sent us to ENT who did an endoscopy of her trachea at the same time she had tubes in her ears (she was having alot of ear infections and ironically that wasnt the reason we went to see the ENT) . He said she had reflux and once we started her on the meds for that the noise went away. I would definately bring up that you think its asthma. I would also look up asthma on WebMD or another site and get the symptoms and bring that to your doctor. The more we know about these illnesses the more likely we are to (i dont want to say fight but maybe push) for the right treatment for our children. I am the type of mom who has a notebook with symptoms, days, times, medicines ive given, fevers, questions for the doctor and I take it with me to the doctors. Some hate that but most are really grateful to have a parent who has doen research before hand. It helps me also becuase when I am at the doctor I am not trying to rack my brain about when symtpoms have appeared how long etc, Sorry this turned into a novel.

1 mom found this helpful

My oldest son, at 14 mos., was hospitalized for troubled breathing...that was just the beginning. The cough you speak of, it's the kind that you just want to scream, "enough already!" Dry, persistent & just goes on...

Every asthmatic is different & therefore needs to be treated as such. My son was hospitalized or had ER visits so often I lost count. Winter, dry heat, aggravated his condition & I can't tell you how many vaporizers I went through, having them running constantly during the months when the heat was on. We couldn't get a handle on it while under the pediatrician's care....not until I found a specialist (Pulmonologist, now retired) could he begin to stay away from hospitals. On my first visit to him, he sent me home with the "smoke blower machine", as my son called it, for at home breathing treatments.

You're doing the right thing by getting to a specialist. My son was affected, severely, with any virus/cold, suffered from allergies (which compounded his condition) & exercise induced asthma (being excited, running around, etc).

Meds now are amazing to control & maintain this condition. My advice, don't treat your son as though he's sick....deal with the attack, meds, doctors & move on...it's something he'll most likely have to deal with for his whole life & none of us wants to instill a "your sick, kid" attitude on any of our kids! :-) Good luck!!

Hi Michelle my name is B. and I am now 37 years old I had lived with Asthma and Allergies since I was a small child and have been on all kinds of Allergy and Asthma medicine for years. I no longer am on Asthma or Allergy medicine this has been for over a year now. This is due to vitamins and switching my cleaning products. Do you buy store bought cleaning products? If so where do you buy them from? Do you ever notice when you clean your child has more severe Asthma or Allergy problems? Hope to hear back from you!

B. R. (PA)

Don't believe any one when they tell you that a child can't be diagnosed with allergies or asthma until they reach a certain age. I am kind of surprised that a pulmonary specialist would tell you your child was too young to develop allergies. My youngest daughter was born in November 2006. By the time she was 6 months old, she had already spent almost 4 months in and out of the doctors for wheezing/coughing symtoms- all supposedly associated with a cold. He just kept telling me to give her nebulizer treatments- he said it wasn't uncommon for young kids to have wheezing problems with a cold. I kept asking my pediatrician if it could be asthma, since I have it, and so do many people in my family. He kept telling me the same thing- she is too young to diagnose. Finally after spending 4 days in the hospital- supposedly with pnuemonia & bronchitis (even though the x-ray was pretty clear)- I had him give me a referral to a pulmonary specialist who works out of Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia. After listening to my daughters lungs, she opened an albuterol inhaler (if you don't know much about asthma- it is a fast acting medication that opens the airways immediately) and gave my daughter a puff. She listened to her lungs again & said 'She has asthma'. I asked her how she could say that so definitively when for months I had been asking the doctor & he kept telling me she was too young. The doctor told me that she could tell because the medicine worked. Along with asthma, she also said my daughter probably had reflux & allergies. She said that asthma can cause reflux, and vice versa. Although we did decide not to give our daughter the medicine for the reflux or the clariton she prescribed for allergies, we did follow through with the asthma medication. My daughter uses Flovent- which is a medication you take daily to open the airways & prevent constriction- and she uses albuterol as needed for sudden attacks. I can tell you it worked wonders- within one month she was no longer wheezing and since then she has had only one recurrance this winter- which didn't last very long once we upped her doses according to a treatment plan given to us by the pulmonary doctor.
I also asked the doctor why she was giving inhalers instead of having me use the nebulizer. She said it is a more accurate way to insure that your child is actually getting the medicine. With the nebulizer in a child that young, alot of the medicine evaporates into the air so they are not getting a full dose.
All this to say- push the doctors. If you think it could be asthma, be very vocal, ask lots of questions, make sure the doctor knows what activities or other outside influences bring on symptoms. Don't be afraid to ask the doctor to try giving your son the albuterol when he has symptoms.
Also, a few things to try in your home if you haven't already: change your cleaners to something more natural- chemicals in cleaners can be a problem for some kids. get an air purifier. Put some plants around your home- it sounds silly, but plants help clean the air of harmful toxins.
Sorry if I babbled on for too long- Good Luck!

Do you have pets? My daughter was allergic to our dog and she coughed for months until we finally figured it out. Our doctor said she thought it was allergies. We got rid of the dog and the cough subsided. It is completely non existant now. Just a thought.

OMG you just described my son!!!!!
I had him seen at a specialist and had allergy and all the other tests done on him and YES he has asthma. He was dx'ed at 3 with it, and probably had it since he was 2.
He is on Flowent puffer 2x per day and he has a nasonex rx for really bad stuffy nose days and we do clartin for with pet dander comes into play.

You have NO idea how much better he started getting when we got him off the pulmacort....I still have an albuteral puffer cause the inebulizer I feel just doesnt' work for us and he's too impatient for it.

Do youself a favor, see the specialist and you will be amazed how much better you little on will feel.

Hi M.,

My name is P. and I have two "boys" now age 25 and 22.
Both of my sons have asthma as did my husband. My older son Dan was always coughing also. I recommend that you find a pediatric allergist. It wasn't until I saw one that I learned that asthma is coughing!! I think that we all have a picure of asthma that we get from commercials for asthma produts! It is not only wheezing and gasping for breath. Dan also had allergies and started on shots at a very early age.

I am happy to report that he is doing very well (still has asthma) and is runner who will do ten miles at a time.

Good Luck

My son has had asthma since he is 4 months old. he has what is known as Chronic Asthma. He is also on refluex medications because refluex can trigger asthma or asthma like conditions. Talk to the pul doc about a nebulouer and the use of it for preventive. My son is not always in distress either but gets the dry whoopy cough after any activity. The meds do help.

My daughter has had asthma since she was one. She is now eight. It has gotten much better with time. They put her on a nebulizer. It really sounds like that is what it could be.

He is not too young to have allergies. If you speak with an allergist, they will tell you it is possible he could have allergies. My two sons are younger than 2 and I know they have environmental allergies. I did as well at their age.

You could always try some basic things like an air purifier, but asthma and allergies are closely linked, so he may be having small asthma attacks. Ask about sports-induced asthma. I had two siblings who had that and it only appeared when they were winded. They sometimes needed treatments, but it wasn't often.

Listen to your gut and keep asking until you get a satisfactory answer. Good luck!

Hi M.:
I don't have experience with asthma in children, but did have an incredible 'goose honk' of a cough myself for almost 4 years, all day, daily. Hard to believe it took that long to find the right pulmonologist to prescribe the right mix of asthma meds, and completely eliminate the problem for me. I have a history of allergies, and the asthma is considered related. And, I can tell you that coughing so much is exhausting - I imagine your little guy just has great stamina for it not to slow him down. I think you're on the right track to plan to ask about this topic specifically with the doctor, especially considering that you have a family history of asthma.
Two other details come to mind: I always tested with good pulmonary capacity at the pulmonologists office, so that isn't always in indicator. Inflamation and pflegm in the lungs is the clue... Also, people with asthma also often suffer with excema - does your son have any skin issues, even in small areas?
Best of luck in figuring this out.

It is possible that your son has asthma. My daughter was diagnosed as allergies/asthma at 3 years old. Most doctors will not test for allergies or ashtma until the child is at least 5 years old. There are other medications that are used for both asthma and allergies. Ask about them.

Hi M.,
I'm so sorry to hear about your son. Sounds like he could be having environmental allergies. A Mom named Barb responded about changing your cleaning products and using Melalucea products. I too use these same products and they are great and have no chemical side effects and are safe on the environment. There are dozens of chemicals we use everyday that effect us in ways we can't even know. Children are more sensitive to their environment then many Doctors are going to recognize. The rates of asthma and allergies have risen astronomically since the 1970's as have the toxins we inhale, ingest and expose ourselves to. It might be best, before putting him on any more medications, to change his environment somehow and then have a little patience to see if anything improves.
A word of advice about these reflux medicines he's on. I'm a singer by profession. A few years ago I had a vocal issue. They thought I had reflux at one point and tried to put me on these same medications - reflux is a relatively newer diagnoses and it's one they want to slap on lots of people. Everywhere you go it seems everyone is on reflux meds - the medicines they give actually suppress the stomach acids so much that when you go off them, a volcano of acid is produced - far more then was perhaps being produced when and if your child actually had reflux. I refused to take these meds, not wanting to be attached to these drugs. In fact , I didn't have reflux at all. Your doctor may tell you your son can't ever go off them (that's what they told me, which is why I refused to take them). When you decide to take him off them, do it gently so he doesn't have too a strong reaction. I don't know how much testing they've done with these drugs on babies and toddlers. Reflux medicine is VERY strong stuff. Anyway, sorry to be so wordy, but I thought someone ought to tell you about those meds. No one ever informs us about the side effects until its too late it seems.
Take care and good luck

H. M.

My two year old has asthma. It has been present since last year after he came down with a severe case of RSV. His breathing and coughing also got much better after his pulmonary doctor checked his adnoids and they were removed. Also 2 yr olds can get allergies...my son has those also. I know lots of kids who have them. As a mother and a doula I will tell you the same thing I tell my clients...remember that your medical providers are exactly that! PROVIDERS...they work for you...don't ask...tell them...you are your sons mother and his best voice to the outside world. Follow your instinct as his mother and voice it! I love my sons ped but it I was asking about those adnoids for 5 months and finally listened to my own advice and demanded an x-ray...I just had a gut feeling...and I was right...they were huge for his age! Make a list of your concerns...also does he get up through the night coughing? That is one of the biggest signs of childhood asthma...here is good sight to go to...

And if your child is placed on the meds...beware...they become very hyper with behavior changes...remember it isn't his fault...its the meds. Good Luck!I hope my rambling had some purpose...lol.

My son started wheezing one day when he was 7 months old. It was winter and he had cold symptoms. His pediatrican diagnosed him with "reactive airway disorder" and explained to me that he basically gets asthma-like symptoms when he has a cold and would most likely outgrow it. He was put on albuterol and pulmacort taken through a nebulizer to use as needed. We had good results with that. We ended up switching peds and the new one referred my son to an allergist for another opinion. He diagnosed him with asthma but said most peds don't like to call it asthma in children under 2 because many times they outgrow it so they call it "reactive airway disorder". My son is now 3 1/2. Unfortunately, I can't say if my son has outgrown it, as he is on medication for a totally different condition which may be keeping the wheezing in check.

I don't know if I've helped you as far as the asthma diagnosis goes but maybe this info helps you figure out what questions to ask. I just remembered, at the same time this was going on my son had eczema - it often accompanies asthma. There is also a strong history of asthma and allergies in my husband's family so this also helped with my son's diagnosis. Good luck!

When he coughs try taking him out into the cold air (car rides in the winter work), or try making the bathroom steamy and sit with him in there. To me it sounds like croup and can last off and on for a couple of years. My middle one got croup when she was three and had it off and on for the winter, for her we had to take her out and drive around in the car in the cold. We only used the heat enough to take the chill off the car & left a window open about an inch. Usually the coughing stopped in about 10-15 minutes. Good luck & best wishes.

Do you use a humidifier at night when he sleeps?

My little girl was diagnosed with asthma when she was a little over 2. The initial diagnosis came after a severe wheezing incident when she was exposed to cats, but ever since then, her only symptom is a nasty cough, with no sign of distress from her. She is 4 1/2 now and we still can't tell when her cough is "just a cough" or when it's asthma, so we have to take her to the doctor everytime to have them listen to her lungs. I'm assuming they've been listening to your son's lungs and don't hear a wheeze which is why they might not be thinking asthma. We did have an instance where one doctor said she wasn't wheezing and then another doctor had her breathe a certain way and squeezed her belly in at the same time and he did hear a wheeze, so sometimes it can be subtle I guess.

She has lots of allergies and is on several daily medications now (Zyrtec, Singulair, Nasonex nose spray and Pulmicort nebulizer), but she hasn't had a bad attack for about a year. She still coughs more than the average kid though - especially after running or crying.

Anyway, hopefully your son doesn't have asthma, but you could try going to an allergist just to check. They can do allergy tests at his age and allergists usually have more experience with asthma than a regular pediatrician.

My daughter was diagnosed with asthma at around 2 1/2 years old. She coughed at night while sleeping and a lot after being very active. Those were her only symptoms. Her regular pediatrician diagnosed her and prescribed an inhaler. She used the inhaler for about a month and the cough was gone. Now she only needs to use the inhaler when she has flare ups, usually after having a cold. Good luck at your dr's appt, just let them know what you're thinking! It sounds to me like your son probably has asthma.

I'd recommend a book called "The miracle of magnesium". sounds like a great read, huh? lol! but it is fantastic. There's a whole section in there about asthma. Barnes n Nobles has it.

There's a whole tidbit on how people on asthma meds actually physically get worse over time due to what is IN the meds. Our diets are so severely lacking in Magnesium and the foods that used to be nutrient rich are no longer since our soils are depleted. Wait till you see what our bodies rely on magnesium for!

Seriously, I think the book was $10??? Worth a shot if it makes light bulbs go off for you!

and I second the suggestion of changing your cleaning products. Melaleuca is fantastic and causes no strain to the respiratory system. A cleaner called Tough and Tender from there is so wonderful. And since you dilute it with water, it literally ends up being same cost or LESS than traditional cleaners. Also, be careful of what candles you are burning, and don't use room fresheners. If you NEED a nice fragranced room, get some essential oils (you can get almost any scent and they are pure, no formeldehyde or junk in them) and mix one or two drops in a spray bottle of water, spray through the house. You'd be amazed at how many environmental toxins are in our homes.

My son is two and has asthma- was just up with him all night as a matter of fact. Asthma is a constriction of the airways, and I think it can sound different in different children. Most talk about hearing a wheeze, but my kids mostly have a nonproductive cough. Allergies can cause asthma- and no 2 years is not too young to have allergies. I think doctors are way too quick to blame everything on reflux. I would tell the doctors what is being done is not working and a different treatment needs to be pursued, or go see someone else.

Dear Michelle,

My daughter goes to school with a girl with asthma, and when she coughs (not having an attack) it sounds that way, it really sounds bad but she is fine. It sounds to me that he may have asthma, but did the doctors see this? They normally do a breathing test (breath into a tube) to see the range if he is getting enough air in his lungs. One doctor at my practice thought my 7 yr old daughter had asthma and then wanted her on breathing treatments SEVERAL TIMES A DAY when we felt like she didn't, my husband has it and had it as a child, so he knows what the signs are. Talk to the doctors again, I don't think a 2 yr old is too young to have asthma, and sometimes kids may have it, but do not need the expansive treatments for it (breathing treatments everyday). Good luck and best wishes................E.

Hi M.,
My daughter (who is almost 9) was diagnosed with asthma before she was a year old. She started with bronchitis as well. I have done lot of research on asthma over the years. I know there are several "types." Some asthmatics have the common wheezing noises and are short of breath. My daughter never wheezes. She coughs (seal like) when she gets sick, runs alot, or when its really cold outside. Her asthma is usually brought on by sickness or an upper respiratory cold. Whenever she coughs really hard, she vomits mucous from her lungs. Gross, but that's how her body reacts to the asthma. She also has eczema & mild food allergies to milk & eggs. When you see the specialist, I would hope that they do a breathing test to see if he has asthma. If your son doesnt seem to be in distress, maybe he has a mild form of asthma and it can probably be controlled. I try to only use my daughter's inhaler in an emergency (like when she starts the vomiting). When she just has a cough/cold, I keep her very hydrated and use a warm air humidifier every night in her room. When she is sick, I give her chewable vitamin C to boost her immune system, and extra vitamins. That way, she only has to use the inhaler every once in a while. Sorry so long! I hope your appt goes well and your son remains healthy!

Dear M. H.

My daughter was born with asthma, and constantly had to use a nebulizer until she was almost 3. We used the liquid albuterol as well. My daughter also had reflux, but wasn't diagnosed until she was 6 months old.

I constantly had to fight with the peds to see how to help her. In the end I wore them down and was able to receive a neb for home along with the capsules that are used for the neb machine.

Talk to your ped about this again and state that your insurance would most likely cover this device and that your child should be re-evaluated for asthma. State that the reflux medications are not helping.

I am quite surprised that the pulmanolgist did not pick this up, but if it is excerbated by stress then it might be more difficult to diagnose.

Good luck and stay strong on what you know could save your child in the end.

My kids get this quite often too. Our pedaitrician explained to me that anatomically...some kids have very narrow areas around the windpipe. Even the slightest inflamation and they cough and it sounds like a goose. The issue is finding out what is causing the inflamation. It could be allergens, reflux, sinus drainage, etc. but he told me that some kids are just more susceptable than others to infalmatory issues around the windpipe (lay term). My kids have grown out of it tremendously. They still have a problem periodically, but not like it was when they were toddlers.

Hi Michelle. My son, Ryan, went through a similar thing. When he was about 2 he had the same cough that you described. His doctor put him in Zyrtec, which seemed to help for a little while, but then did nothing. Then they switched to Singular. He was on medication for almost 2 years. It drove me crazy. They couldn't tell me exactly what was causing the cough, they just said to keep giving him the meds. I was very uncomfortable with this, but sometimes the cough got so bad that we did have inhaler in case he started to have an asthma attack. Yes, even though he was on the meds, we still had this for back-up. Fortunately, he never had an asthma attack and we did not have to use the inhaler. I was introduced to Melaleuca about 3 years ago (my son is 7 now) and didn't want to believe the products I was using in my home was causing the problems with my child, but after using Melaleuca's products for about 6 months, I decided to take him off the Singular. I am happy to say that he has not been on medication since that point and the only thing I did different was change the kind of products I was using in my home. I wish the doctors wouldn't be so afraid to tell us that cleaners and personal care products have harmful chemicals in them that can cause these types of conditions. I hope this information helps and if you want to learn more about Melaleuca, I would be happy to give you more details. You can email me directly at ____@____.com

First, remember that Drs. do not know it all! They are human and make mistakes,too. Many times they are just doing their best witht he educational background and experience they have to make a good GUESS. There are always exceptions when it comes to medicine and I've had several Drs. tell me that young children CAN and DO get allergies, sinusitis, and asthma. Asthma can also be allergy induced. I believ it is a matter of oppinion with in the Dr. community.

What would we do with out Drs? We trust them with our care and the care of our children but they don't have the last word. I respect my Dr. very much and he has come to respect me and my wishes. Ultimately, YOU are the one who makes the decisions for your child under the great advice of your Dr.. Be upfront with you Dr. but firm with what you have to say. If he or she is a good Dr. they will hear you out and move forward in resolving your concerns.

I can be long winded, too!

Hi Michelle.

My son is almost 2 and a half. The Doctors resist diagnosising asthma until they are three years old. My son started to get asthma type symptoms, rattling ans wheezing at the begining of October when he had cold symptoms. Since then I fought with the doctor for a nebulizer and finally got one so that I do not have to take him to the emergency room for treatments. the inhaler even with the mask just did not cut it. I do take his inhaler if we go out but use the nebulizer at home only as needed. He has had three bouts all when he had a cold. Try for the nebulizer. My son in using alebutrol(sp?) as needed. If you get to it quick in the early stages then less treatments are needed.

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