Asthma Question - Long Beach,MS

Updated on December 22, 2010
G.F. asks from Long Beach, MS
11 answers

I took my 9 yr old to the doctor yesterday becoz sunday night she was complaining that her chest hurt. I was already suspecting she had asthma because she has had a chronic cough for months now. It used to be seasonal but now it seems like it was happening every night. As it turned out, I was right and the doc put her on singuliar and gave me albuterol for her (just 1) to use in case she really needs it. Right before the appointment, I tried to read as much as I could (without really knowing specifics) but when it came down to asking questions, I went completely partially blank and only asked about having to contact her school about her condition. So again I'm trying to read up on as much as I can but I still am at a loss. There were no tests done on my daughter. Doc listened to her breath via her stethoscope and heard wheezing, then gave me the prescription and sent us on our way. So even tho i suspect her triggers are allergies and cold air because that's when she starts coughing, I don't know what she's allergic to in order to help her environment. Doc said that the singulair should be sufficient (I guess her asthma is mild???) and that she doesn't feel the need for her to take the inhaler to school (in the event of emergencies). Put it this way, on the way home, my daughter had to ask me if she had asthma because the doctor didn't really say the word throughout the whole appointment! I just told her she did. Last night, she asked me when she should use her inhaler. Is it when she starts coughing her head off (her words) or when she her chest starts hurting? I didn't know what to say and went with the chest hurting part. Was I wrong? Should I have her use the inhaler when she starts to cough instead?? From observing my daughter, I can assume her signals are coughing, itchy neck, sore throat. These were her major complaints right before her chest started hurting.

We go to a military doctor and it's hit or miss with these folks. You either get the "you don't know what you're talking about" look when you ask a question OR they look at you like you should already KNOW the answer. So anyone have any advice on asthma where the primary symptom is coughing???

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answers from Oklahoma City on

An allergist might be the way to go to to get her tested to see what she is allergic to. i did the testing and had reactions to 74 out of 80 things they tested me for...I know, I have lots of allergies. A doc that specializes in Asthma or the lungs would be a better choice for you to go to for treatment for Asthma too in my opinion.

If she feels like she is having trouble breathing regardless of it being a cough or a tightness she might try using the inhaler and see if the symptom eases up, if it does then it was right to use it. That may be the only way to learn what will be her best way to use it.

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answers from Boston on

My son has this. He's 3, so it might be a little different, but here goes:

We also didn't get a "diagnosis" of asthma, but we just say that he has it because he has asthmatic symptoms. I don't think that really means anything.

I suggest that she use her inhaler when she's having trouble breathing. She's old enough to know, or at least to start to learn, what that means for her. If she's coughing so much she can't catch her breath in between, she's having trouble breathing. If her chest hurts because it feels like someone's squeezing her lungs, she's having trouble breathing.

The good news is that, assuming she doesn't way overuse the inhaler, it's "better safe than sorry." The meds might make her feel a little funny, but an extra dose or two won't hurt her.

See how she does on the medication, and do go back and ask the doctor if you have questions (even if he looks at you like you're an idiot). Asthma is generally a really manageable condition, but there is a little bit of a learning curve learning how to take care of it. It's worth asking the doc, though.

Good luck!

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answers from Alexandria on

omg i know what you mean about those drs. i've had asthma since i was in third grade. have an extra inhaler at her school. i would suggest keep it in the nurses office but i always kept mine in my locker or somewhere i could get to it if i had to. i have seasonal also i take prevental when needed and advair. you're doing the right thing about her breathing so don't fret. if she's coughing wait until she stops to see b/c sometimes it can just get irritated and not have a ahard time breathing. sometimes her throat can get ittchy from the coughing but she may not need the inhaler. she'll learn when she needs it and so will you. the one thing i can suggest is never let her panic b/c it obviously makes it worse. also, drinking warm water or running hot water (steam) and breathing it in are things you can do to help calm her down w/o the inhaler. never use cold water. good luck and merry christmas!
p.s. one other thing. i saw someone put that she should always use her resuce inhaler...don't that will not build up her lungs but make her very dependent on it. my drs have been telling me this for years and i believe it. i'm an athlete with asthma and yes running does make it happen but she can take one puff before working out or playing--whatever it is she does. one thing to remember is her asthma will get better if she builds up her lungs. do not let her get dependent on the prevental. the singular or advair she uses is so she wont have to use the other inhanler all the time.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I know to use my albuteral when I get a headache(from lack of oxygen) that won't go away and I finally stop to think "Can I breath out?" I try it and if I am wheezing and it makes my head hurt more it is time for albuteral. I also have mild asthma but there had been a couple of times my phlegm had blood in it which requires a try to a hospital to check it out. When she is have more trouble than usuall stay away from high fat, greasy foods. Seems to make mine worse. I used Advair as my controller (once a day for me) but I find at 40 I only need that in extreme cold season and extra windy days and I don't use it the rest of the year. I tend to stay away from most other triggers as much as possible (cats, cigarette smoke). Sometimes when kids are young the drs are hesitant to say asthma until it has truly been documented over several appointment. If she gets a cold she will probably need to use her albuteral more often. I try to go as long as I can stand to not become dependant on it. As one poster said if her asthma is under control with the Singular(also an ingrediant in Advair) she should only be using her albuteral about once a week. Good luck! Be sure to watch for an side affects to medication since this is new. I know several people that couldn't use Advair or Singular because of something in it.

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answers from Dallas on

I would suggest you see an allergist. They can do testing to confirm asthma and will do a better job walking you through the various treatments and what medication helps with what symptoms...and when to use.

I have asthma and use my inhaler when I have difficulty breathing. She will eventually figure it out..but there is a distinct difference when I am just sneezing and coughing vs when I am coughing, wheezing and having difficulty breathing. I use my inhaler when I am having difficulty breathing. If I have been having trouble with it consistently over a period of days, I may use my inhaler a couple of times a day for a short period of time as preventative... But if it is well managed - I shouldn't be using my inhaler more than once a week.

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answers from Boston on

It can be very scary to deal with an asthmatic child (I have 2 -- but I think it's easier for me because I, too, am asthmatic -- so I know myself how it feels). You've received some good advice here but I thought I'd add my 2 cents worth.

When to use the albuterol:
- For right now, until she gets this under control (a few days to a week or so), use 2 puffs every 4 to 6 hours. It's best to space the 2 puffs out a bit: do one, wait five to ten minutes, do the second. This allows the first puff to open those airways a bit which makes that second one even more effective. Don't be afraid of albuterol inhalers. They're very safe. Still, like any prescription medication, use it with respect and follow directions.

- Going forward, you & your daughter will most likely find she needs the albuterol less. Still, when she needs it the dose is usually 2 puffs at a time (again, spaced 5 - 10 minutes apart). It's funny -- this is one medication that I've never seen the dosage change, regardless of the age or size of the patient. Kids, adults -- whomever -- it's still 2 puffs at 4 - 6 hour intervals as needed.

How to know when she needs it:
- My asthma attacks come on slowly -- even over the course of a few days -- so I'm sometimes not even aware at how I've been struggling in a low-grade kind of way. For me, some times it feels like I just can't get a deep breath. Sometimes there's a tightness or sense of pressure in my chest. Sometimes it's a recurrent cough. Some things you can watch for (in addition to the cough -- a good indicator): does she sigh a great deal? Take audible deep breaths more often than usual? Does she seem very tired, even though she's getting enough sleep? In addition, there's the wheezing or chest rawls that most people associate with asthma -- don't be fooled though; you can not be wheezing and still be in some distress. When my daughters were younger and would get colds, I'd put my ear right up to their chest & have them inhale. You can frequently hear some rumbling even without a stethoscope. One suggestion: if your daughter says she thinks she might need her inhaler, have her use it (as long as it's been at least 4 hrs since the last dose). Just because she's not coughing or you can't hear her wheeze doesn't mean she's not having trouble.

Possible triggers:
- Colds (well, duh!) and allergies seem kind of obvious but for me, a big trigger is rapid weather changes (weird, huh?). A doctor once explained that, for some, rapid changes in barometric pressure or unstable weather patterns can cause a problem. Some people have trick knees or other joints, I have trick lungs. I can usually tell when a storm is coming; spring & fall, being more of transition seasons in our area, are harder. Extremes of temperature OR humidity; very dry air is as much a killer as humid days. Stress can be an issue for others. Seasonal allergies are a biggie for one of my daughters. Neither my kids nor I have ever been to an allergist -- but I know a lot of what they're allergic too (fortunately, none of us seem to have the harder to figure out allergies; we're your run-of-the-mill hay fever, some animals, dust kind of crowd). Why deal with the cost & discomfort if you can watch & get a decent handle on things yourself? We find Claritin, Benadryl & Zyrtec as needed (no -- not all at once, silly!) help us manage the allergies.

If you're confused or trying to determine what's going on, keep a log/diary of what's going on & how she's doing. For me, it took a while before my asthma was really under control. Then, the symptoms became much fewer in frequency & in intensity. For one of my girls, once we managed it well & she grew up a bit, her symptoms pretty much stopped.

A couple of things:
- after using the inhalers, a little sip of water or something will help rinse out her mouth. They taste like hairspray (bad enough) and I've been told that some inhalers, if they park at the back of your throat, can cause an infection (I've never had a problem myself -- but why temp fate?).
- Take a look at whatever cold medications you might be giving her. Many caution against using them with asthmatic coughs.
- A cool mist humidifier on a low setting is helpful at my house this time of year. It just gets very cold & dry in the northeast. Dry, like humid, isn't fun.
- Exercise is good -- unless she's in the midst of an episode. For me (a way-too-out-of-shape middle aged mom), I make sure I use my albuterol before I do any unusually heavy-duty physical activity (right now, snow shoveling comes to mind) -- even if I feel fine & am not having any symptoms. I don't let my asthma stop me, but I'm also prudent and prepare myself well. Think of it the way you think of sunscreen; it's more effective when you put it on before intense sun exposure.
-- a final word (at last, you say! -- sorry, I get a little long winded): One of my girls had some respiratory issues for about a year and then nothing for the seven or eight years since. I wouldn't say she has asthma, but she did have some asthmatic response to a bad cold that turned into bronchitis. Once we got her stable and were vigilant for several months, she never again needed any inhaler meds. Not sure why it happened then, but it did and it hasn't since. I'd wait a bit & see how things go before I became convinced your girl has asthma. Hopefully, this will be as short-term for you and your daughter as it was for me and one of mine (not so the other. *sigh*).

Hope this helps. Good luck to you and to your daughter!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Albuterol is a rescue inhaler so she will use it at the first sign of wheezing/difficulty breathing.

Singulair - UGH... The Dr. gave you a bandaid. mmmm, how about helping you find out what caused her asthma in the first place. There are so many triggers.... environment, food, dander, dust, etc... Since she is 9 - I'm curious if anything has changed? New bedroom? New paint? Spring cleaning? New pet? New foods?, Etc.. or she could be sick - bronchitis?

She won't use her inhaler just because she is coughing, unless she has a coughing fit that leaves her short of breath - but then I go back to wanting to know the trigger. The singulair will help, but like I said above it's pretty much a bandaid. Who wants to take allergy meds everyday?

Keep an eye on her and try to note triggers/changes if you can.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

The very best place to take her would be to a pediatric allergist. Mine was 100% more knowledgeable than my ped. And he tested and figured out the allergies for us also. So since you are probably not going to be able to find one here is what we were told to do for my son who has coughing as his main source of flare up.

Singuliar was wonderful in controlling it. He took it for a couple years without issue and his asthma was totally under control with this. I ended up taking him off of it b/c he was having some attachment issues and from my research Singulair could cause that. I should mention that my ped allergist said he sees that in like 1% of the cases so you shouldn't worry too much about it.

Zyrtec for allergies. He gets this every night and it does a great job of controlling his allergies. he is allergice to practically all environmentals inside and out but you would never know it. If I were you I would try this for my daughter-couldn't hurt.

When he was first diagnosed we used Pulmicort every night. While it IS a steroid the dose is so low that it is not a problem. The doc said that we should consider the fact that the dosage for using a steroid orally when he gets out of control would be much more than this daily dose so best prevent a flare.

She should use her inhaler both when coughing or chest hurting. You should look into getting her a breathing treatmetn machine that you can put the albuterol in and it takes about 5 minutes. I think this is much more effective than the inhaler.


answers from Denver on

The singular is her daily treatment (mine is symbacort, some use advair). It's called a controller medicine. Once she gets going on it the point is to 'control' the asthma.

Albuteral (pro air) is a fast acting inhaler (think emergency). She needs to use this when she starts coughing - not when she's in a full blown cough - so she can inhale it properly. If her chest is hurting use it. It's going to take a couple of days for the controller to really kick in.

Did they give you the plastic chamber that attaches to the inhaler? Oh yeah, military doctor's, probably not. Get them to give you one for your daughter. It's going to make it easier for you both to make certain she's actually getting the medication and not just spraying it on the roof of her mouth. It looks like this but shouldn't cost much:

My primary asthma symptom is the 'cough'. It could be triggered by cold air, seasonal allergy, women's smelly perfume.



answers from Tulsa on

have her use it wether its chest pains or cough. and tell her asthma can come out of the blue and she has to have her inhaler. ex smoke if someone burned trash at school im sure will never happen she will need her inhaler. if she runs to much she will need it. I am cold induced cat induced long haired only and dust induced if it is windy I have to use my inhaler. I am also tornado induced used to live in tornado alley. I am also excercise induced. I also get real tired and pale if my asthma is flared up. I can also take benedryl and make it go away sometimes not always though. coughing is my only symptom I do not wheeze. good luck and tell her to quit being hard headed and not to be embarassed if she has to use it. some asthmatics are embarrased to use the inhaler in public if so she can go to the bathroom to do it.



answers from Boston on

Singulair is an asthma control medication but it is also used to treat allergies. If you are using it to treat asthma you should give it at night and close to the same time every day. It will take a few days for it to start helping with her symptoms.

My son uses albuterol when he starts coughing hard and cannot catch his breath he would not be able to wait until his chest starts hurting. She should use the inhaler when she first starts to have difficulty breathing which is probably when the coughing and itchy neck starts.

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