Asthma or Not?

Updated on February 01, 2011
J.G. asks from Brooklyn, NY
13 answers

Sorry, this is going to be long ....My 3 1/2 year old daughter has had respiratory problems since she was 1. Everytime she gets sick, it goes right to her chest. Before I purchased a nebulizer she went to the emergency room twice. When she was 2 1/2 she had RSV. I've taken her to a pulmonologist, he tested her for allergies, and she isn't allergic to anything (like pollen, dust, etc.) We tried Pulmicort for months at a time, she still got the same attacks after her colds. I have tried Singulair, and that worked great for her runny nose during autumn, but she still got the same attacks after a bad cold. Her ped. thinks she may have non-allergic rhinitis. But the thing is, noone can give me straight answers. She may have this, or may have that. As of this moment, she had adenovirus, and within a week it went right to her chest. The doctor said her lungs were clear, but I don't understand that because she sounds TERRIBLE. She sounds like a 20 year smoker! She is currently taking Sudafed in the morning, Benadryll at night. She was on Orapred for 3 days and I use a nebulizer with half saline water, half albuterol ( I only use half because she trembles in her sleep with the albuterol) I feel like nothing is working! I feel like I'm over medicating her, though the doctor says i'm not. I've been trying the steam in the bathroom for 20 min. and it helps for a little bit. She has 2 pediatricians, one says it might be asthma, the other says he doesn't think it is. ??? During the summer, she is runny nose, no coughing, and then I think great maybe she is growing out of this, then fall comes and it's all over again. I know it's not croup because I have experience with the croup and I know what it sounds like. She is breathing in and out easily, but the sounds when she coughs, it's so crackly and deep. I am so confused, and the nights are really scary, I pretty much deal with this all on my own...I would like to put her in a bubble so she never catches a cold again lol. She misses so much Pre-school and she loves it. Does anyone have any advice or have went through something similar?

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So What Happened?

Hi everyone, I want to thank everyone for your comments, concern and sharing your stories with me. I do realize that I am not alone and that a lot of children, unfortunatly suffer from all different kinds of respiratory issues. Just to update what has been going on...I took my daughter to a pediatric allergist, she heard her wheezing slightly while I was in the office. She advised me to put her back on the Singulair, and keep her on it all through the Fall/Winter seasons. I also started Pulmicort twice a day. She said I don't have to keep her on the Pulmicort all of the time, but definatly start using it twice a day at the first sign of a cold. We still can't tell for sure whether or not she has asthma. This could be with her for 3-5 years until she "grows out of it" or it could last her entire life. We also did a scrath test. We tested for mold, pollen, dog, etc. It turns out that my daughter had a reaction to dust mites. So now I will be working on "dust proofing" my entire home!! (She had an allergy blood test done by a pulmonologist, and everything came back negative, so that goes to show that it really wasn't accurate, which I heard, so that's why I wanted a scratch test) Right now, she is doing great! Her cough is gone and she's back in school. I just have to be cautious and start the treatments at the first sign of an illness. I know someone suggested a chiropractor, and although it sounded weird at first, I looked it up and they do specialize in allergies and asthma, so that is the next thing I will be looking into. I pretty much will try anything if it means helping my daughter even in the slightest way. Thank You all again! -J.

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answers from Houston on

she sounds like she might be cold induced asthmatic or excercise induced astmatic I agree with the doc that says asthma but you need to get her to an allergy asthma doc not a pediatrician for a straight answer.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

You absolutely need to see a pediatric allergist. Pediatricians are really not equipt to deal with this as much as they may think that they are. I saw a huge difference once I started taking my son to a PA. And the PA's advice was quite different than what our Ped had been telling us to do.

BTW-Pediatric Allergists are the specialists that deal best with asthma whether it be from an allergen or not.

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answers from Boca Raton on

sounds a lot like my son. Since the day he was born, he has had congestion. We were given one reason or another for the congestion...(infected adenoids, then when they were removed, oh it's that he's teething, etc) CAT scan showed he had chronic sinus infections. Everytime he got a cold, he developed bronchitis. He was on Pulmicort and Xopenex nebs, Singulair, benedryl at night, and I think one other med, can't remember which. We went to allergists, gastroenterologist, put on Zantac, pulmonolgists. Pulmonologist diagnosed him as having asthma, but called it a "hypersecretory" asthma, basically, he secretes too much mucous. With all those meds, the only difference I noticed was that he didn't get brochitis anymore when he developed a cold, but he still had that "smokers cough". Since I got fed up with traditional medicines/doctors that didn't seem to help, I finally took him to a chiropractor. NOw I am the most skeptical person about chiropractors, and I told him such, but he explained how things are connected and how he could help and it all made sense and I now see a huge improvement! We have taken him off all the meds (he started seeing him at the age of 3, went off meds about 6 months later, and he is now 5 and still doing fine). We started at 3x/week for 4 weeks then down to 2x/week then down to 1x/week and now we are at the point where he goes once every 2 months. He is completely clear in the summer and in the winter/flu season he still gets congested, runny/snotty nose all the time, but it doesn't develop into anything more than that. So definitely look into seeing a chiropractor that specializes in pediatrics!



answers from New York on

Hi J.,
I sent you a private message regarding a great allergist in Long Island. I would give him a try!



answers from Washington DC on

I am not a dr... but she sounds alot like my son who is asthmatic. He had a bronchial cough that we kept giving cold medicines for and nothing was working. We took him to the allergist for a routine check and the dr. yelled at us. Apparently he had been having asthma symptoms for 3 weeks! Now we know.

It is possible that she is sensitive to molds which would come out in the fall. Cold temperatures are also triggers.

My daugther developed an allergy to watermellon. She had 3 ear infections in 6 weeks. As soon as we removed watermellon from her diet she cleared right up!

When I was younger I would have terrible asthma attacks every night. My mom got me tested and it turned out I was extremely allergic to milk!

My suggestion is to take her to an allergist and request a full enviornmental blood test. They draw some blood, run the tests and call you with the results. If there are certain foods that you feel are triggers, they can test for those also.




answers from Los Angeles on

ok my daughter is asthmatic and uses pulmicort. did the dr that gave you the pulmicort explain that it is a prevenative medication meant to be taken everyday and not just when sick. my daughter takes .50 pulmicort when she isnt sick everday and when she is sick or allergies are flared then she gets 1.0 pulmicort. she also gets albuterol 3-4 times a day via inhaler durring the day and nebulizer at bed time. also i dose her with benadryl (with her drs ok 1 tspn as needed 3-4 times a day)
here are some ideas on if its asthma in young kids like that.

1- if coughing is worse at night then day time
2- over the counter cough meds only work for a short time then appear to not work anymore.
3- FYI not all asthmatics wheeze!! (my daughter has never wheezed!)

my personal thought is that she is asthmatic. she needs to be on the pulmicort everyday to help control her symptoms. then when they act up she needs albuterol or some other medication to aid with her coughing. my daughters cough always sounded bad and wet but it was never in her lungs it was the air way to the lungs. get her a cool mist humidifire and keep her room a little cooler. the cool air will help the inflammation in her air ways down. i hope this helps you :)



answers from New York on

Have you taken her to a ENT? My son would get this yearly cough and they did a nose culture and was harboring a bacteria. It's worth a shot. Also, make sure she is eating LOTS of fruits and vegetables. This will help to boost her immune system. If she can eat soft chews you should put her on Juice Plus+. It has totally helped my children. It boosts your immune system among many other things. They even have a Children's Health Study going on where the children go free with a sponsoring adult. Dr. William Sears is a big fan among many other well respected physicians. If you would like to learn more please look at my website ( or ( I hate to see your daughter take all that medication and still not feel well. Good luck!!!



answers from Binghamton on

Since most of the symptoms show up during the cold weather, have any of you thought to check your furnace filters? For those of you that have hot air heat, the filters may be clogged with dust, therefore blowing dust into the air in your house. Dust can be a major cause of allergies. Just a thought...



answers from Boston on

You need to see a pediatric allergist and pediatric pulmonologist. For my oldest to be controlled he must take symbicort, singular, claritin, and flonase and he will occasionally flare with a cold and need orapred and albuterol every 4 hrs. He is 9 now and he only needs orapred about twice year instead of with every cold. It's not the cough or the sound of the cough you need to worry about even in kids without respiratory problems can have nasty coughs you need to worry about her breathing. But a stethoscope and learn what a healthy noise is an when she needs albuterol. What id t pulmonologist say about asthma hs opinion would be the one I would trust as far a breathing issues go.



answers from Portland on

I've had fragile lungs my whole life, and my coughing and wheezing over the decades has been a real concern for lots of people. I tend to get more asthmatic symptoms in the winter, too, especially when hit by cold air. I recently got a treadmill so I can exercise in spite of the cold. I've also had severe nighttime coughing and crackling that results from episodes of reflux on occasion.

I know about that 'albuterol tremor' – I had it so bad I couldn't sleep, and eventually got such severe heart palpitations from it I had to stop using it. I keep things down to a workable (not perfect) level with alternative drugs and herbs.

Something that seems to be creating a great increase in asthma in recent decades is the Western trend toward keeping every surface germ-free. The latest research suggests strongly that when the body isn't challenged by any of the pathogens it has evolved to fight off, the immune system simply doesn't develop properly. Not only is the immune response to illness weakened, but the immune system, confused and thwarted, begins to attack the body's own tissues. This results in asthma and other auto-immune problems.

Identifying illness is really more of an art than a science unless a specific pathogen can be identified. Doctors do their best, but so many symptoms present as a result of multiple illnesses. Wheezing and coughing can mean infectious illness, or asthma/allergies, or acid reflux, or heart disease, or probably a whole slew of other problems. Your doctors may need time, tests, and experimentation with different therapies to pin down a diagnosis. I wish you patience and a successful outcome.

You might want to explore the options a naturopath can offer. Their treatment options are generally gentle and supportive to general health.


answers from Rochester on

Oh, how I feel for you...and it sounds just like my six year, exactly.

From about one, every time she gets sick with a cold, a virus, anything, she has what her doctor refers to as an "asthmatic" episode, diagnosed by listening to constriction in the bronchial tubes, etc.

So, I treat it, and sometimes it goes away. Pulmicort and Albuterol when she was younger, through a neb, and now that she can effectively use an inhaler it is Albuterol and Flovent. A few times, she's had to do a short course of Prednisone because it wasn't coming under control. It is ALWAYS after she gets sick, and at no other time. There are no other triggers.

Her doctor would prefer I leave her on her maintenance medication three times a day year round, but I feel like this is overmedicating and unfair to her, considering she doesn't really have a say in whether she wants all those drugs in her body, and this ONLY happens during cold/flu season. Because I homeschool and she has limited contact with other children DURING this season, it amounts to basically one attack each winter (or sometimes two.) Now, she's grown into this easier state...when she was younger, 2, 3, 4, it was a more recurring thing.

I don't give her any medication 11 months out of the year. Her doctor is to the point of anger, I think, with me...but I have repeatedly expressed my concern than I KNOW when it's going to happen, and I don't want her on all these steroids year round. I don't think it's right.

Personally, I am beginning to wonder if it's asthma at all, or if there is some other condition.

She is just like yours...breathing sounds completely fine, no wheezing, etc, it is just this TERRIBLE cough all night long that makes you very afraid she's just not going to be able to breathe.

I am at a lost, other than to tell you what I do (against my doctors wishes, but it works for us.) I don't treat until it is the season, and then I still try to hold off. If she begins to show any signs of a cold, I immediately start both meds and that gets it under control. And just like yours, summer is fine, hayfever season is fine, etc etc...

so I'm with you. Especially about putting her in a bubble so she won't catch a cold, because then it does escalate into something scary.

Sorry I couldn't really be any help...I just wanted to let you know how much I understand what you're going through. I think you need to follow your instincts, because you know how she reacts better than her ped does.



answers from Rochester on

Get another opinion. Ifyou can afford it - a naturopath. Even if you can't I would go that route - because asthma disappearing in the summer sounds really - well, non-asthma.

you may have MOLD issues in your house/work/somewhere she is staying for periods of time in.

Weird as it may sound, you may also have issues with FOODs that she is either sensitive or allergic to.

I'm voting for both or either; that's just too odd. Conflicting peds is too confusing, get some straight answers before she winds up in the ER - or worse.

Good luck,



answers from New York on

I am not that informed on asthma but my son and my younger daughter both go sick over and over the first winter he was in preschool (last year). This winter has been a lot better so far(same school, mostly the same kids). Also, I've been giving my kids Immunity Plus gummy vitamins all winter and it seems to be helping. By this time last year we had already had 2 rounds of antibiotics per kid plus pink eye. This year just one cold each.

I think a pediatric specialist is a good idea if you want a specialist. I'm in NJ so we have seen some at St. Joseph's in Paterson and a very good Pediatric ENT at UMDNJ in Newark. If you want that contact info send me an message and I can send it to you.

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