Any Other Options You Have Tried for a Toddler's Very Severe Asthma?

Updated on July 15, 2009
A.K. asks from Virginia Beach, VA
22 answers

I am writing this in hopes to have any and all suggestions and personal experiences sent my way! My little guy who is now 3 years old has been battling asthma/allergies since he was 6 months old. He has been on every nebulized medication (xopenex, albuterol, pulmicort, etc.), every inhaler (albuterol, advair, symbicort), every allergy med (zyrtec, nasonex, veramyst) plus orapred (prednisone) and countless antibiotics (to treat sinus infections, ear infections, etc) too many times to count. We even did a prophylactic antibiotic through this Winter in an attempt to avoid sinus infections, and I'm not sure it helped him at all. He has his second set of ear tubes and already had his adenoids removed. He is scheduled to have a bronch and cilia biopsy in a few weeks to see if there is a possible anatomical cause (narrowing or obstruction of airway possibly) to all of this. CT scans have been normal as are x-rays, genetic tests (for CF), and immunology workups (all normal). His symptoms (spastic cough and wheeze....more that he wheezes with the cough) are ONLY present when he is sick (viral respiratory illness or sinus infection), which is a lot. He is maxed out on medications and I really hate having him on so much that we all know can also be harmful to such a small growing body. I just want him to be better and not have to do nebs and steroids and antibiotics all the time. I just ordered a bunch of books on amazon on the subject and am anxiously awaiting any other help I can get. Does anyone have a pediatric allergist/pulmonologist/ENT they are in love with and willing to recommend? We see the specialtists at CHKD for all of these, and am wondering if anyone has a particular dr. they would recommend for a second opinion in the VA Beach/Norfolk area? Has anyone tried homeopathic/natural/holistic approaches to treating asthma in a toddler? If so, what were they and did they work? Do you know of any doctors that are open to this or incorporate it in their scope of practice? Any success stories? I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed right now and trapped with lack of better options besides simply continuing on the road of too many medications.... I am open to anything at this point, so please help!! Even if your child has grown out of such severe asthma and is medication-free now, I'd love it if you would share that with me as well, to know there is hope!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post and hopefully we can get the much needed help for our little guy!

I will add that we are very proactive at home....change the Hepa air filters monthly, have Hepa air cleaners throughout the house, no one smokes anywhere near or around my house or children, we don't eat in smoking restaurants, etc. Their toiletries are ALL organic/safe/chemical-free, etc. The only thing I DON'T do and am switching to now, is 'green' cleaners for the house. I'm getting rid of dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, clorox stuff, lysol wipes, etc. and replacing with a fantastic 'green' line of products. His allergies are only environmental, which include dust mites, animal dander, and some grasses/trees. We have the allergen protector cases on all pillows, mattresses, etc. I may take him to a neuropathic doc. at the recommendation of the mamasource folks! Thanks again!

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K.B.

answers from Norfolk on

A.,
I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this. I agree with the majority of the posts.

I have not been to this particular doctor but I do know that she is a medical doctor who specializes in holistic medicine. Which means... she will look at your son's issues as a whole (not just the lungs or ENT).
Her name is Stephanie Story and she is located in Va Beach. I personally would look to someone like this that is trained in both the traditional medicine and the naturopathic medicine which I believe she is.

Foods can effect the system if the child is allergic or even has intolerances. Cutting out gluten and dairy are very helpful for respiratory issues and digestive issues as well.

Homeopathy works wonders and is very safe and gentle.

Your son will most likely need a detox or a homeopathic remedy such as the one my son took (called silicea) to remove all the toxins that your son will have stored in his system from all the mediciations he has been exposed to. That will also help.

I also second the advice about removing all chemicals in the home including the laundry detergent. Vinegar is an amazing cleaner. I use the seventh generation soaps for my diswasher and the liquid soap but found that my son had some type of reaction to the seventh generation laundry detergent. So, of course you will have to find out what new products work for your family. But by removing the chemicals and the known foods that can contribute to his issues it will help to narrow down the cause.
YOu may also want to change the diet if you haven't already to eating mostly whole foods and minimally processed foods. Organic is best when you can do it. I don't always do organic but if I can and there is a sale I do. Things like bananas don't need to be organic just the thin skinned fruits like apples.
I know this can be very frustrating and heartrenching at times. I may not have experience with the asthma end of it but I have been through my son regressing after a vaccination and finding out that I had to make some major changes to the way we were living. It is a journey but you will be rewarded in the end.
I think it is great that you are looking at alternative medicines to help heal your son. Having an open mind will give you more options with his healing.
I wish you all the best. Please keep us posted.

Again the doctor's name is Stephanie Story.

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A.B.

answers from Norfolk on

Are you open to a trial elimination diet? My stepson has had good success in eliminating dairy, and his pediatrician recommended gluten free as well, but my husband won't go for it. He's still on singular and zyrtec, but we've only had one attack in the past almost two years. When he was younger he was like your son. Constantly on antibiotics for ear/sinus infections and every other month in the ER for asthma attacks that the rescue meds didn't stop. Also, allergy testing may not be accurate and is not designed to uncover sensitivities. However, allergy testing is a good place to start so that you have somewhere to start. There are a lot of gluten free casien (dairy) free sites out there. It doesn't have to be expensive, but doing it all at once for a trial period is the best way to go. There is also a good magazine called "Living Without" that my gluten free friends swear by. Hope this helps.

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S.M.

answers from Washington DC on

OMG, sounds like your little guy needs a serious detox treatment !My daughter had respitory issues , when she was 2, we were on Albuterol/Xopenex pretty much every 2 weeks, she woulld wheez and cough all the time, 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off, I finally had enough of that (6month) and happened to visit my home country (Germany) and went to see a Homeopathic (natural medicine) Doctor there, She analyzed my daughter and gave here homepathic detox pellets for 8 weeks and believe it or not, we have not been on a nebulizer since, she will turn 7 soon !!!I have totally switched to Homeopathie, except for Strep throat or sinus infections. There are some Homeopathic doctors around, but you have to pay yourself, which might end up being cheaper , than what you have been through ! The problem with antibiotics, steroids and cortison is, that it will destroy the good bacterias in the colol ,too, and then the immune system is down and if you don't detox and replenish the good bacteria ( there is a treatment for that), your son will constantly get sick again, because he has no good bacteria fighting the bad !!!hope that helps, good luck !!!

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M.C.

answers from Dover on

Hi A.,
I'm so sorry to hear about your little guy. I'm thankful that so far neither of my two....well...you know, I don't like to say it or type it.
I've had discussions on this site and with friends who are in your situation-some not as severe an issue, but yes, some who have a child with such a severe case. I have heard so much about cleaning products in the home and all the chemicals associated with them (whether you use them or they sit in the closet) being such a huge link to breathing problems-especially asthma. Found a news link for you at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaqgxoZdwCY&feature=re.... I use and refer people to Melaleuca. Don't know if you've ever heard of it. They are one fantastic resource for every product you need besides groceries-and diapers-but they have no ammonia or chlorine bleach or formaldehyde-just no harsh chemicals that seem to be such a link to asthma. My friend's daughter hasn't had to have a nebulizer treatment since she converted her home. Is that why? Can't say, but heck, if it helps-and if you haven't already-you've got to get all those products out of your house. Melaleuca is a one stop shopping place to do it and it is certainly cheaper per use than the store brands. I am not trying to sell you a darn thing. I've just learned so much and don't trust any other company for my family's needs. Lysol-registered carcinogen (pesticide). Don't take my word for it, go to the company's [email protected]____.com you have any other questions, you know where to find me. Good luck with your little one. You're in my prayers.
M.

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S.G.

answers from Lynchburg on

My business partner's son was the same way. She went the natural route and boosted his immune system. Worked like a charm. Her name is Raquel and her # is ###-###-####. She'll tell you exactly what she did for her little guy. Good luck!

S.
SAHM of 4, ages 8,5,3and1/2, and 18 mos

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S.O.

answers from Washington DC on

I am just writing to give you some support and a little hope. Both of my boys had what they call "reactive airways," meaning they only had asthmatic symptoms when they were otherwise sick. One was worse than the other. It's really awful to see those little chests heaving as the child struggles to get air! However, both outgrew this by the time they were in their teens. We still have an albuteral puffer in the house but nobody has needed it for years. What I would suggest, tho, is going as green in the house as possible. Get rid of harsh chemicals, any kind of room fresheners or other things that put artificial scents in the house. There are a number of mothers here on this website who sell healthier cleaning products (I use Melaleuca products and vinegar and water to clean my floors). Also, dust mites are a big source of this problem -- we had to make one of my boys get rid of all his stuffed animals that had been sitting on his bed, we only let him keep one. You can get special mattress covers, too, that cut down on dust mites in the mattress. Good luck and have hope!

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B.P.

answers from Washington DC on

I had asthma as a kid. Not quite as severe, but I was hospitalized a couple of times. I've totally outgrown it now. At this point, I carry an inhaler in my purse and never use it. It collects lint and then expires! Allergy shots made a big difference for me. But I think just growing helped. Any chance there's an allergen in the house or nearby that could be triggering symptoms or making them worse? Just a thought. Mostly, I just wanted to give you hope that he may just get through this and be fine. :-)
Hang in there. It's SO hard to see our children sick and struggling and to feel so helpless.

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A.B.

answers from Washington DC on

My heart aches for you. I remember this time so well that I still break out in hives. My son is now 10 and has outgrown the worst of the asthma, so hopefully this will encourage you. He had the tubes (which worked for only a month), the asthma, the ear infections, etc. Never had adenoids removed, but they were talking about a second set of tubes by the time we saw it tapering off. Over the years, we learned that colds and allergies were his triggers so we tried to minimize the exposure to the allergens. Colds were impossible to control until I quit the job with the birth of our second child and started homeschooling. I can write offline as to how this came about. But, if I had learned some of these things sooner, we possibly could have minimized his suffering.
First, check out your home and places you frequent and see what allergens are present. I'm not criticizing your housekeeping. My home was always neat, but it was not free of dust. It is an old house and requires more dusting than most other folks' homes. So three times a year, I get a service to come in and do a deep clean. (There are three in my family who are asthmatic, so this is not optional.) Summertime is not so bad and I don't need to be so vigilant. But, winter and spring--UGH.
Next, in the winter and early spring, we keep humidifiers in the kids' rooms and clean them out regularly, so they don't get nasal congestion. I know, extra work. But, it's been helping. The house is dry and if too dry, we all get sinus congestion, and if someone around them gets a virus....
When we visit a relative who smokes, we keep visits short, come home, bathe and I plan to put us all on the nebulizer. We insist on nonsmoking accomodations everywhere we go.
So, try to identify allergens and minimize them. If you can, limit his exposure to folks around flu season. Insist on your son washing his hands.
Then, talk to your pediatrician about the preventive medications. Eventually, the doctor switched all of us to Pulmicort Respule, which helped keep things under control. I also use Advair at the change of the season, when I am most likely to have trouble breathing. As they get older, the colds (and asthma attacks) are fewer because their eustachian tubes get longer so mucous does not sit there breeding bacteria.
Finally, check his diet. I have learned that too much sugar, meat, and dairy also make our systems weaker. I've learned how to substitute veggie crumbles and more veggies into dishes like lasagne and spaghetti. Prevention for my family has helped much more than all of the meds and operations. My daughter, while needing breathing treatments a few times and Prednisone, etc., has not needed tubes, etc.

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N.E.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi A.,

How awful for your little guy to be suffering from this and not getting any real relief! Does being a Navy wife mean that you have to use Navy doctors? If not, and you can go to a civilian doctor, please contact our allergist. He's incredible, a genius, and has helped my 12 year old son, and 16 year old daughter immensely! His name is Michael Mardiney, III, please contact him at ###-###-#### and tell him N. sent you. When you call, make sure you ask for Michael the 3rd.

The best of luck to you!

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K.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi A.,

I hope you find solutions on this board. I recommend that you get rid of all chemicals in your home. Salt, baking soda and vinegar is basically all you need to clean with. If you have carpet, consider getting rid of it. If you have anything that could possible collect dust, put it in a closed container - that includes books, loose papers, fabric, etc. Clean all of your furniture either with a steamer or vacumm with a HEPA filter (gets rid of 98% of particles). Use a HEPA filter on your heating/air conditioning system. Place a HEPA filter on your air vents. Do not use brooms to sweep with as it stirs up dust. Use a damp mop.

Wash linens in hot water once per week. Cover mattress and pillows with a protector to keep dust mites to a minimum. If you have animals remove them from the home.

Mold may be an issue since you live near water. Consider having an enviromental inspector come to your home to test your air for mold spores. If you see anything black spots or water damage anywhere, have it repaired. After you shower or use the tub, wipe down the wet surfaces instead of letting it air dry. This will help reduce mold growth.

Try using a Neti pot to clean his nasal passages. It's uncomfortable and he may not let you do it. It certainly helps me. See if Hyland hayfever, a natural product, will help clear up allergy symptoms.

I wish you well. If you need anymore environemental info, please email via mamasource.

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A.F.

answers from Washington DC on

I think it is time to try a natural approach to your sons asthma. All those drugs and antibiotics have damaging side effects. Asthma is an allergy symptom. It is much more prevalent in the past 10 years than ever before. I believe this is due to our air pollution and too many chemicals in our environment. To avoid sinus infections take your son off ALL dairy products. They are mucus forming and create an environment for bacteria to grow. Also dairy is the number one food allergy because cows are fed so many chemicals. His health may greatly improve with this one step. Give him daily vitamin C and acidophilus ( the friendly bacteria to replace what he has lost from all the antibiotics.) If the colon loses this friendly bacteria, it weakens one's immune system and puts one in a vicious cycle of illness and drugs. Go to the Vitamin Shoppe or a health food store. Echinacea is a good herb to take to strengthen the immune system. AF

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C.J.

answers from Richmond on

My 15 yo was diagnosed at 9 mos. According to MCV, here in Richmond, he is one of the worst cases they have ever seen. My son also has been on every medicine there is to help control his asthma. We even tried Xolair injections twice a month, and even that, didnt work. Life with a child so very sick with asthma definately takes its toll on the entire family. Its hearbreaking to watch your child struggle to breathe, even over the smallest things. We tried everything we could think of with medicine, acupuncture, prayer, etc..... We were even told that the allergy shots he received when he was younger, made the asthma worse. Those were d/c immed. I went into Respiratory Therapy for the main purpose of finding something to help. I do my research everyday, looking for that one "MIRACLE." Trust me, I feel your pain. There are many of us wondering how many others are so severe. Not many people understand how dangerous this disease is..... The most painful thing about it is the "unknown" the 'What ifs" and as mothers of asthmatic children that is always on our minds. Lets talk!!!

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B.H.

answers from Washington DC on

Ask your doctor about Singulair. My 8 yo son was diagnosed with allergy induced asthma at 2 and we had a hard time too - March, july and November were horrible for us unitl he started taking Singulair every day and 2 puffs of Pulmicort inhaler at night and he does great now - still has an occasionally flare up but nothing like it was. Good Luck! B.

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E.K.

answers from Washington DC on

Anna, I am sorry to hear about your little guy's problems, I wish that there were an easy fix to the problmes. I have not read the other responses, so sorry if this is repeating, and this will be long. I offer these suggestions as one who has asthma and is the parent of an asthmatic, niether of whom have had a problem since I started doing things in the way that I am telling you.
In no particular order:
Get a whole home water filter/treatment system; the number of chemicals in the water to make it safe for most people, can actulaly harm some (chlorine, from hot showers/baths, can be in the steam and cause problems[think suffocation and WWII]). This helped me ALOT! The water was actually causing my asthma attacks in the morning because I like hot showers after I exercise. For years my doctors and I thoufht that it was the exercise.
Get back to basics for food, this is the really expensive part! Switch as many fruits and vegetables, thin skinned and the ones where you eat the skin, to certified organic. et the processed food out of the house, if you can't pronounce the ingredient list, then it should not be going into your body. There are many foods that can cause allergies, asthma can be triggered by many of them. Cut out wheat, dairy, eggs, and nuts I know this sounds like a harsh diet, but this is what you have to do to find out if he is allergic to any food items (other than many needles for allergy testing. YOU NEED TO BE VERY PICKY AND READ LABELS AND WARNINGS while trying to detox and figure things out. With my oldest son, we figured out that large amounts of wheat, gluten and dairy-like a pizza- make him very hyper, amonmg other things. My oldest son,daughter and I all have milk allergies, and I drank alot of milk growing up. I also discovered that I have a severe allergy to the grapes and fermentation for Red Wine, it closes everything down and only epinepherine helps. I know from personal experience and from other people, that when they eliminated dairy from the diet, the ear problems and many sinus problems lessened or completely went away.
YOu may want to check out his metaboliism and endocrine system to see if they may be short circuited. There are several diseases that can mimick others, that can be helped by eliminating one or two foods.
Lastly, and probably the least expensive thing to do, is to get the toxic cleaners out of your house, ASAP! When I did that, many problems with all 6 of my family members cleared up. I use products form Melaleuca, and they work great and cost less than the store bought brands, mainly because they are so concentrated. Did you know that there are more chemicals in the average house today for cleaning than there were in a very well stocked chemistry lab in the early 1900's!
I also have the entrire family on Melaleuca's vitamins. My father's heatlh has improved, we rarley get sick anymore, and it has helped my autistic son with his focus and dietary challenges.
I hope that all of the suggestions have been helpful, and that you find out what is causing all of his problems, you may find some of your own that you didn't realize you had. I can tell you the food causes of my migraines, what foods the kids and I get bloated (and gasy) on, and it all surprised me.
I started looking into these things when my oldest was diagnosed with autism and I wanted to keep him off of medications as long as possible. I have taken many nutritiohn courses, if I took the test I could probably become certified. The changes that I amde for my one son have helped the ENTIRE family in various ways.
If you have any questions, about anything that I have said, e-mail me at [email protected]____.com

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M.R.

answers from Washington DC on

I know it's a long shot, but have you tested to make sure that he is not Vitamin D deficient. One of the leading causes of autoimmune issues is D deficiency.

You might check.

M.

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S.J.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi A.,

So sorry to hear about your little one. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for all of you. I would definitely recommend finding a homeopathic doctor to help you find a natural regimen. Some things that you might try now are eliminating all toxic cleaning substances from your home. Water and vinegar do a great job on the housework and there are tons of all natural soaps, shampoos, laundry soaps etc available now. The whole family would need to get on board as far as hair & laundry go. My daughter doesn't have asthma but she was sick the entire winter and the her doctor had run out of options for us. I bought some probiotics at Whole Foods and have been giving her one dose a day. The results have been remarkable. Her runny nose cleared up within two days, her cough is almost gone, her sleep returned to normal, her disposition improved and her appetite increased. Amazing. Probiotics (in case you aren't familiar with them) are good bacteria like the kind you find in yogurt. The theory is that since our immune system functions at its best when our gut is populated with healthy bacteria, the more healthy bacteria you put in your system, the better. I just started taking some probiotics myself. I can't speak highly enough of them. As others have posted, an elimination diet might also be useful. A good naturopath or homeopath will be able to guide you through that process. Chiropractic and accupuncture are also wonderful tools for keeping the body's systems in good working order. Best of luck to you and your little boy.

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K.A.

answers from Washington DC on

I'm not sure where you are located, but we have a pediatric ENT/allergist (specializes in both) at I am totally in love with. He actually listened more than he talked. He's a leader in the area in research as well as treatment. He is located in Rockville, MD. Email me at [email protected]____.com if you'd like his name. Good luck, I know how terrible it is to have a sick kid that you can't seem to get the treatment right!

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N.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi, A. - Poor little guy! Good luck to you. I hope you get lots of helpful responses. My friend had 3 asthmatic sons. She switched all of her household and personal care products to "green" products, and her sons have not used inhalers in 3 years. She'd be happy to speak with you, I'm sure, as she has made it her mission to help other families avoid what she was going through. Let me know if you'd like more info. Best wishes, N.

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S.C.

answers from Norfolk on

My sons both go to CHKD and we have been VERY happy with them. You said allergies...environmental or food? One of my sons had a food sensitivity that one of his major triggers. My only question is are you being proactive at home? Does he have allergies to such things as dust, mold,etc.? My youngest sons asthma was really bad for a while then we made adjustments at home. All mattresses & pillows (in every bedroom) are covered with allergy cases. There are no perfumed/scented lotions in the house. No one is allowed to smoke anywhere near my children. We had our air ducts cleaned, carpets cleaned and changed all of our air filters (and make sure we do regularly by putting it on the calendar). We invested in hepa air cleaners for both kids bedrooms. We use All free laundry detergent and bounce free dryer sheets. My kids only wash with cetaphil and use vaseline creamy which have no scent. We use organic cleaners (so no fumes). We gave our pet away to a new home. Make sure you check your cosmetics for offenders too.

Remember to be proactive not just reactive and not just rely on the medicines.For our youngest we are down to singular&flovent at night and as soon as he gets a sniffle we get him on his pulmicort nebs & albuterol, which has helped manage his asthma which now just seems to flare when he is viral. During allergy season we add Zyrtec. My oldest is completely controlled on Singular& Zyrtec right now.

My family was very understanding when I laid down the conditions for visiting, we seldom go to their homes because they all have pets and/or smoke. We have walked out of restaurants before due to other customers perfume & smoking. I actually had to kick my father out,when he was living with us, for sneaking cigarettes in an upstairs bathroom. My children come first and especially their health. Good luck!

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R.S.

answers from Denver on

A.,

I am sorry you are having to go through all this....My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. One thing I would check is to make sure there isn't something in the house (combined with the normal cold) that causes his symptoms. For instance mold, roach dander, etc. I am guessing you might be living in base housing or an older home. You can get home tests for mold etc. I would test for radon in your home too. Meanwhile make sure your heat isn't too high especially when he is sick and keep up your research. One thing that helped me when my kids are sick (silent reflux--not sure what is causing it, we might be on our way to some answers)...is journaling their symptoms, what they did that day, ate that day, etc.

Hang in there!
R.

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M.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi A.,
You say what meds and proceedures he's done, but you never state what he's allergic to? Has he been tested for allergies? There are two tests: one for food, one for environmental. They can be administered 2 ways: blood sample or skin test. My son has asthma. He's developed as a presistant cough, not really any wheezing. He used to have cronic ear infections until we had him tested for foods. He's allergic to pears, tree nuts, mold, and pollen. His dr. put him on Extendryl syrup and it seemed to help for a while against the allergies. We tried allergy shots, but he had a reaction to those.

We're now on Azmacort inhaler for daily asthma maintainance.

Since you live near the water, could there be a pool of water, a type of plant in the area that he's around all the time?

When I was young, I would get asthma attacks and almost instant ear infections the moment I walked into my Gradma's house. Turns out that there were 2 flowers in her yard that I was highly allergic too. I didn't have to touch it, just walk by. (that's how we found it one day!). Also her house was old and damp. Family would deep clean the house (including washing curtains) for 2 days before I arrived. Bless their hearts! When I was younger, I was allergic to several things: milk, cats, dust, pollen, mold, hay, grass, Queen A.'s Lace (flower)

Good luck

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M.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi A.. I know this is a little late to respond, but I wanted to offer my services. I am a chiropractor but my focus is on natural health care, which I've found to be very effective for all sort of problems. I wish I could give you a specific thing to try, but every person's body is different. I find that doing specific testing of each person to determine what that person exactly needs is most effective, saves time and money. The testing is "patient friendly" as it doesn't require blood or any other body fluid. It can also be used to determine if there are any other allergies or things that he may be sensitive to (such as foods). It sounds like you are doing a lot of things right and have tried a lot of different therapies for you little guy. I'm sure you are frustrated, but there are other options. I'm fairly new to the area, having moved here a year ago for my husband's residency at Walter Reed (he's in the army). We were surprised to learn that we were expecting just after we moved, so I decided to start my practice in my home so I can spend more time with my little girl by cutting out the commute. I would be willing to do a free consult and exam to see if I can help and of course there is no obligation of any kind. You can also email or call me with any questions you may have or if I live too far from you (I live in Rockville, MD) I can suggest some other doctors that I know that may be closer to you. ([email protected]____.com ###-###-####)

I hope that you find what you need and again feel free to contact me if you wish. Take care and best of luck.

M. Bunker, DC

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