Asthma or Acid Reflux?

Updated on May 14, 2011
A.S. asks from Mesquite, TX
12 answers

Okay, I asked all of you a question the other day about my almost 3 year old son and his severe cough but here is another...

To give a little from the other question: My son has always gotten a bit of a cough when he runs around too much. Nothing bad. He has really bad seasonal allergies of which he has seen the allergist for and gets allergy meds for. For the last two weeks he has developed a severe cough. It's not all the time but when it hits he coughs so severely and for so long that he ends up vomiting all over the place. The pediatrician checked his lungs, nose, mouth, and ears and all are clear of infections or blockage. She said possibly asthma and gave us Singulair (asthma/allergy chewable pill once a day) but this did not work. Previously I tried giving our son Triaminic and Benadryl and neither of those worked. The only over the counter med that seemed to work was this cough syrup with 100% natural honey. I don't believe that cough syrup was even medicated, just coated the throat and esophagus.

Now.... after all of you replied, I called the pediatrician back and told her the Singulair didn't work and so she called us in an inhaler. In the last two days I have given my son the inhaler only twice. He has the toddler attachment and is still getting comfortable with the idea of having it cover his nose and mouth and having to breath in the medication. When I give him the inhaler it doesn't stop his cough immediately (which I thought it should but maybe I am wrong??). However, after about 1 minute his cough begins to lessen and then after about 2 minutes it stops completely. Does this mean the inhaler is working? Maybe he just isn't breathing in enough medication to make the cough stop completely immediately...?

Anyway, at one point this time our son was coughing and then he grabbed his throat and started screaming. I asked if his throat hurt and he said "yes." He has mentioned at least once before, while coughing, that his throat hurt. Like I said, the pediatrician checked him out and he is not sick and that his throat was fine.

So my question is, does this still sound like asthma attacks or like acid reflux? I had originally thought acid reflux but everyone was saying asthma. Now I am not sure which it is again because of his grabbing of the throat and screaming. I have never dealt with either of these things... although, both asthma and acid reflux run in the family. Asthma from my husband, my dad, and my brother and acid reflux really bad from my husband and his father... however, nobody has ever had the severe cough and none of the family history asthma has required inhalers.

Thanks for your help...

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answers from Boston on

Sounds like asthma. I'd ask for a referal to a pulmonologist. If he needs albuterol every day it's not controlled and he needs to use a control med.

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answers from Philadelphia on

It sounds like asthma. I have to watch my son because he has allergies too. I am surprised they did not do a nebulizer with the steroids in that they breathe in. He also could be coughing so hard it is making his throat raw and he is coughing up acid at the same time. I would give him the honey cough syrup and the breathing treatment. If you feel the doctor is in error then I would take him to an allergist. Good luck

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answers from Biloxi on

Is there a pediatric asthma specialist in your area? My son has had asthma since he was 6 months old. We managed it well through our pediatrician - but when he was 2, went to a specialist for a "check up". Changed some meds, added some new regimes, then continued to see the pediatrician for maintenance. He is 14 now, and mostly has outgrown it.

Singulair is not a relief medicine - meaning - if you are having an asthma attack it will not stop the attack - only a rescue medicine will do that. Sinugulair is a preventitive medicine that, when taken regularly, should help reduce the number of attacks and the severity of attacks. It's second function is as an allergy medicine. My son has been on it since he was 2.

Have you taken him to see the pediatrician when he is having a coughing attack? If it is asthma then the Dr. should be able to tell during the coughing fit from his lung sounds upon exam. My son could have an attack one day, but the next day, have perfectly clear lung sounds.

One thing I did with mine, with his nebulizer - I used the pipe instead of the mask - as he was scared of the mask when he was little. I would just point it at his little face and he would breathe normally. When his attacks were severe, I would strap that mask on his little face, hold him and let him scream it out - when they scream they actually get more medicine in their lungs from the deeper breaths they take to scream. We would both cry through the treatment, but in 5 minutes he could breathe normally again.

Based on your post - I would try a specialist. It is awful when our little guys are sick.

Good Luck and God Bless

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answers from Atlanta on

I was having the same problem with my son. It turns out he has acid reflux and asthma. He too is on singular. The thing with singular is it needs to be in a childs system for quite some time before it will work. When my son was 3 he was on an ihaler (he is 5 now) and it's not a good idea to have a child that young on an inhaler. They do not know how in inhale the medication properly. After months of seeking answers I finally found an asthma specialist. He is great! My son now take a nebulizer every night. It's much easier for small children to sit down and watch cartoons or have a book read to them for 10 minutes while the machine does all the work. He still takes his singular and the two medications together have really been working. This past spring break he got sick and this was the first time in over a year that my husband and I didn't have to rush him the the ER for his asthma. So my advice to you is: look for an asthma specialist, get a nebulizer, try keeping him on the sigular for a little while, and also see about trying your son on some nexuim. My son has been taking it since he was 3 and it works great. You can get in a chewable for or a liquid that you mix. Good luck and I hope this helped.


answers from Dover on

I would say allergy or activity induced asthma. Singulair does not work right away, my doctor told me up to two weeks to really work but for me, it does work. I had the same problem and he gave me gave me something called "teslon pearls" (don't know if they are safe for kids) but I only had to take them once or twice and was otherwise coughing constantly. There are fast acting inhalers (for quick results, which it sounds like you have one) and there are maintenance inhalers (for the long term prevention of asthma attacks). I don't know of any that work in less than a minute, although I guess there could be some they may not be suitable for a child.

I have never heard of acid reflux causing coughing episodes like you described.



answers from Las Vegas on

My son also has allergies and the worst part if the post nasal drip, which will cause a coughing spell... has your doc ever mentioned this? Additionally, maybe your son is allergic to the meds he is being given? it's something to consider.. on the one hand, they might offer some relief but on the other cause other symptoms such as a bad cough.. however, I suspect the PND is playing a role in all this... and from my own experience, once your throat is inflamed and the cough starts, it kinda has to work itself out.. it's as though the throat spasms..
Also, I found that it's VERY important that my son stay hydrated which helps to alleviate some of the cough.. is your son getting enough water? I gage whether my son is by how clear or yellow his urine is. if too yellow, then he is definitely not getting enough water. I especially make sure he gets enough whenever on meds... I tend to think it's very important to keep hydrated so that the kidneys don't get over worked by having to flush out all those meds..

best of luck to you



answers from Orlando on

We use aloe vera juice for reflux. Its natural & won't hurt him. You can get it almost anywhere. We use the brand George's & it tastes like water. Try that to see if it works. Is your son constipated, because sometimes that makes reflux worse? The aloe juice also helps with constipation also. This was all advice given by my daughters pediatrician. Also try to cut out most acidic foods like spaghetti sauce, ketchup, etc. & try to give him natural, not refined sugars.



answers from Kansas City on

my son has asthma, and it usually starts with him coughing lots and lots. He has coughed so much and so hard, that he has punctured his lung in the past and ended up in the hospital in respitory failure. I would take your son to the dr and get more testing done and maybe get on a medication that helps him not do that. I know it is probably scary for you too.



answers from San Francisco on

Sounds like my son (now 15.) He has asthma and acid reflux (takes after me.) and takes an acid reducer as well as his asthma meds. What a difference taking the acid medicine made! Hugely reduced his need for his rescue inhaler (albuterol). We too tried Singulair on two seperate occasions and it just did nothing for him. He now uses the acid controller and a Maxair inhaler and doing great!


answers from Phoenix on

Psalm, since you are up for trying what ever the doctor is giving you, I suggest you try what my pediatrician recommended a long time ago.. it is a nutritional product that is formulated for children.

Most of the times, the body just lacks adequate nutrition to balance the body. Proper nutrition is very powerful. The body is capable of healing and repairing itself when it is properly nourished. Just remember that the body runs on nutrition, not drugs. I have a friend whose son was on nebulizer.. and he found relief just by taking that particular product. It is in powder form, vanilla or chocolate flavor, mix it with milk or water, shake it up and that's it.

Hope this helps.. email me for more info on that product..

-Maria B



answers from Pittsburgh on

IT really seems to me that you are not under the proper care for your son. It has been my experience that Pediatricians are not very good at handling asthma/allergies. I will strongly suggest to you to get to a pediatric allergist ASAP. BAsed on my own personal experience (and my son was just like yours with the coughing and was diagnosed with asthma-I do think your son is asthmatic too) this is what worked:

Singulair-you need to give it some time....I would not write it off so quick

Pulmicort-given through a breathing machine...this is not an emergency thing but done every day to help with the airways. ITs a good thing to do-esp during allergy season. And do not worry about the low dose of steroids-sustained treatement with Pulmicort is still going to be a MUCH lower dose than the 3 days of steroids they will put you on in a severe attack.

Xopenex-this is a rescue medicine similiar to what is given in the inhaler but it works so much better given by the machine.

Zyrtec every night for the allergies. My son takes this every night of the year b/c he has indoor allergies as well. We have not found any neg side effects.

With all that being 'could' be acid reflux. THe groping of the throat though could be from allergies as well. A good pediatic allergist will probably be able to tell. Please do not rely on your pediatrician for this diagnosis. Getting asthma under control is not easy but so worth it. My son is now 7 and I thought he was almost in remission he was so well controlled-until last week the allergies kicked into high gear and we had to start the breathing treatments again. Thankfully these quickly helped him.


answers from Los Angeles on

One of my daughters had severe asthma. There were several identifying factors. Look for coughing, weakness, sucking in at the neck or ribs when breathing, count the breaths per minute, heartrate.. I looked up a link, its from dr sears, and towards the end of the page, it describes how to look for these and count breaths. Counting breaths is one of the best and easiest ways to determine if the child is having difficulty. For a child your sons age, the maximum per minute is 50 breaths. count inhalations only, (1 inhalation & 1exhalation= 1 breath. Count for 15 seconds & times by 4= breaths/ minute.

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