Constant Colds After Viral Infection (RSV) = Signs of Asthma??

Updated on April 13, 2012
M.M. asks from Chicago, IL
5 answers

My son got RSV at 21 months old. It's been almost 3 months and ever since he has been having a constant runny nose. He might be getting back to back colds , he gets a little better and within couple days back to having a cold and cough again. We had been travelling a lot and also weather changes here could be a factor. This past week he caught a cold from a playdate friend who had a runny nose, he ended up with fever , cough , wheezing(doc said it's normal for RSV babies to wheeze with colds) and a ear infection. The other times he has had colds, they have been mild and no wheezing.
So I am wondering if these recurrent colds are normal or could be sign of asthma? I am hoping he will be fine once the weather gets better here. Most of his friends are all down with cold , so I cancelled few playdates because I don't want him to catch a cold from them. It might be just a cold for them but my son might end up with wheezing. So I want to give it sometime because he just got better.
Also, this time he had wheezing( his doctor said "little" wheezing but very congested - he was coughing a LOT but we couldn't hear him wheeze) I gave him nebs 3-4 times a day for 3-4 days. Doctor had asked M. to give it for about 2 weeks but we stopped because my son was better and also he started throwing tantrums and refusing the neb treatments. My husband thinks it's fine but I am worried if us not giving him neb for 2 weeks( by gradually stopping it) is going to make him more prone for wheezing in future. I understand that nebs open up the airways so kids can breathe better, but how important is it to continue giving the treatment every 4 hours even if child is doing well and continue for the said 2 weeks. I plan to discuss this with his doctor but his next routine appt is couple months away.
Thanks in advance for all your help !
- A worried momma!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I have a 15-year-old who was diagnosed with asthma at age 2 and a 12-year-old who developed "reactive airways" after having RSV at age 4 1/2 months. The wheezing and frequent colds your son has been getting could be asthma, reactive airways or just frequent colds and he's subject to the wheezing because he's still recovering from the RSV. It's probably too soon to know. Reactive airways fall short of asthma, but basically means that someone's airways react more than is typical to colds and upper respiratory infections. My son would develop a severe croupy cough that came on suddenly with a cold. A couple of days of frequent nebs usually took care of it.

If your son is better and the wheezing and congestion are better it's probably fine to stop the nebs, but I would at least call the doctor and not wait until your son's next routine appt. If your son continues to have problems another option is to talk to the doctor about a medication that prevents and treats the inflammation and isn't a "rescue med" like the albuterol in the neb. Usually it's a steroid. A "burst" of oral steroids (usually 3-5 days), not suited for long time use because of the side effects, can be helpful for inflammation. Did he have any during the initial virus? We only used them when my sons were so inflammed that coughing prevented them from sleeping at night or their blood oxygen levels were down. Inhaled steroids help the inflammation because they go directly to the airways, but don't cause the side effects because they don't get into the system like oral steroids.

As for the nebs, I know I hard it can be to get a toddler to sit still for them. We used to let our boys watch their favorite or special videos for the neb. Thomas the Tank Engine was popular. We even had a video called "Baby Breaths" that was specially designed for this purpose and had special calming music and showed footage of babies and toddlers taking their nebs. We also read books during the nebs and had a book designed for this purpose called, "The Lion who had Asthma." It depicted a little boy who used his imaginiation during his nebs and sometimes pretended to be an airline pilot or a roaring lion while he nebbed. If he has a mask for the neb he can also play quietly with blocks, toy trains, etc. while he nebs.

It can take a long time to fully recover from RSV, depending on how severe it was initially. He could be just more prone to the colds and viruses because he's still compromised. I would keep in touch with his doctor and monitor his symptoms. Our pediatrician welcomes phone calls. It's a good idea that you cancelled playdates with friends who have colds now. Good luck.

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answers from Minneapolis on

My son has asthma. There are two kinds of asthma meds, those that you take daily to keep things clear and try to prevent an asthma flare, and those that you take once an asthma flare has started. Nebs are in the second category, and are considered a "rescue" med. They don't have long term effects, so you are not doing anything that will hurt your child in the future.



answers from Boston on

I would continue the neb for the 2 weeks. I would only do it twice a day if breathing is fine and if not do it when its needed. Its not going to make him more prone to things in the future but it will help him fully heal from the cold.



answers from Eau Claire on

If Doc says to do it, its probably best. Can you at least call the doctor and ask if its fine to stop if your son is feeling better? As for getting your son to sit and accept the treatment, have him watch a "special" show he can only watch while doing the treatment.

I don't know that it would be considered Asthma yet. My son just turned 6 and each time he gets a cold, he starts wheezing. He is pretty good now about telling us he "has the coughs" or is wheezing and will ask for his inhalers.

Our oldest went thru the same thing and outgrew it around age 8. We are hoping for the same for our little one.



answers from Milwaukee on

Yes, the frequent colds are signs of asthma. I would stop the neb if he is doing good, but contact the doctor as suggested by someone else. I would also ask the dr about asthma and if there is a preventive med, that your son can take to prevent the reoccuranceof these symtoms.

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