Is It Asthma or Something Else?

Updated on May 02, 2010
T.M. asks from Livonia, MI
18 answers

Another question for you very helpful ladies. This is kind of long sorry. Well my 3.5 yr old daughter has had a cough for 3 weeks now. Here is some background info. She got RSV when she was around 2 maybe a little earlier. Ever since then she started getting bronchtis alot. The doc said allergies were the cause. She was started on Singulair after getting bronchitis twice in 2 months. That seemed to help for a quite a while. Them she started getting bronchitis again. She had bronchitis 5 times last year. This past September I took her the allergist after getting bronchitis twice in 2 months. They did allergy testing and said there was nothing significant. He said it probably was not allergies. He said to put her on Pulmicort once a day. That seemed to do the trick. She got bronchitis once in January, I used albuterol for a couple of nights and then she was fine. Well March 13 she started off with a little runny nose in the morning, and by night she was up all night coughing. I assumed it go away, and gave her albuterol at night. Well this time it wasnt working. I took her to the doc March 18. They said they heard crackling and wheezing in her lungs. They did a chest x-ray and it was fine. She was put on an oral steroid and albuterol 3 times a day. For the first time in 7 days she slept all the way through the night. Then she seemed to be coughing more a few days later. She went back to the doc on March 23 for a recheck. Doc said her lungs sounded worse than before, now its bronchitis, and an antibiotic. She was sleeping through the night and not coughing as much during the day. But stil coughing. Went back March 30 for another recheck. Lungs sounded better but still wheezing. Now on second round of oral steroid and still albuterol twice a day. He said do this until Thursday. Well Monday night she was up all night coughing. She is constantly trying to clear her throat, usually she cant. She sounds all gurgly half the time. She ususally has a very good appetite, although she doesnt seem to gain weight. She weighs 30 lbs. She poops usually 2-3 times a day, mostly right after she eats, but it is usually pepples. She doees take vitamins. She seems to get tired very easily. She will be playing (very active) and then she will say she is bored playing that and go sit on the couch and read books. She has always loved books but she is just not as active as she used to be. I dont know what other info to give. Her cough is always mucousy, sometimes she throws up the mucous. Does this just sound like asthma? My thing is why is she still coughing like this after being on these steroids if this is asthma. I am so tired of this and so is she. Any advice would be so greatly appreciated.

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So What Happened?

Thank's everyone for your advice. I am going to take her to another allergist and ask about food allergies and sensitivites. I am working on using all natural cleaning products, just have to find one I can either make or buy at the store, I do not want to have to order it online.

Just thought I would share that we had to take her back again, now she has strep throat and they tested her for whooping cough. One thing after the other.

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answers from Grand Rapids on

Try putting her symptoms on Web MD, it doesn't sound like asthma. My daughter has cold induced asthma from a sinus infection earlier this year and her cough is very dry with NO mucous.



answers from Detroit on

yes this is exactly asthma... lots of coughing, lots of wheezing, lots of brochitis.

She was tested for allergies and they didnt find any. So you are left with asthma.

Asthma comes and goes... it can go away for months or years and then come back.

It is treated with inhaled drugs such as albuterol and inhaled steroids... and when things are really bad oral steroids.

You might want to see a pediatric asthma specialist..

I dont think her bowels have anything to do with the asthma... but she oculd probalby use more water and more fiber in her diet.

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answers from Detroit on

Wow..that's a lot for alittle one! There are two people I would definitely go see.

I would first get her blood tested by Dr. Park Davis at Integrated Health Services in West Bloomfield ###-###-####). She is an MD that integrates alternative medicine into her practice. She can do a food sensitivity test on your daughter (it is a very sophisticated test that is sent out to an independent lab in Florida where they test her blood against 115 different food antigens). It takes 3-4 weeks for the results to come back but it is SO WELL WORTH IT! It is very eye-opening. My daughter (7) turned out to be highly sensitive to wheat, eggs and dairy. I always wondered about dairy due to ongoing tummy/nasal/eczema symptoms...but I never would have found out about the wheat and eggs (and was only 'guessing' about the dairy). All of her physical symtoms are gone after eliminating those foods. It has been 5+ weeks so far (not a fun diet but surprisingly manageable) and we are trying to make it for 60-90 days before reintroducing those foods again to see if we "beat" the sensitivity (not allergy). I highly recommend anyone who has recurring symptoms of any kind to look into food sensitivities. My regular pediatrician never suggested it, I had to be my (daughter's) own advocate/do my own research.

The other person I would see is a chiropractor named Tent. He practices alternative medicine only (not a big fan---AT ALL---of conventional medicine/doctors). He has a 'different' bedside manner, but he has helped so many people that doctors have seemed to fail (myself included). His practice is in Livonia and is Diversified Health Services ###-###-####). Your daughter should not have had bronchitis twice in one year...let alone five!!! You could actually see him first, but it would be helpful to know if she has food sensitivities first.

Just my two cents. I hope you get it all figured out T.. Best of luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Rapids on

I agree with PR, Carrie, and M. Q. Food and enviornmental allegies go hand in hand with asthma. There are lots of foods, specifically dairy and gluten that are mucus forming and will contribute to colds and respitory infections. Ask you doc to have your child tested for food allergies. If it's not that, then you can move on to other "culprits."

we've gone through similar experiences with our daughter.

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answers from Detroit on

I would 100% support Laura W's suggestions about getting your daughter's blood tested for food sensitivities. So often, sensitivities aren't found in traditional allergy tests. And many kids these days are sensitive to wheat/dairy (my nephew is one of them!)

Up until about 2 years ago, I always laughed at the thought of using alternative/all-natural, homeopathic remedies. But in the last two years, I've seen how they can work wonders. Especially in a situation such as yours where traditional medicine seems to be failing miserably (that's A LOT of meds that your doctor is throwing at your daughter, especially if they don't seem to be helping!)

My most important advice: be your own child's advocate. Many main-stream doctors will push aside any ideas of "all natural" healing (like change in diet, nutritional supplements) when, in reality, it's working for more and more kids out there. Traditional pediatrics hasn't taken into account that our environment is FAR more polluted than it was even 10-20 years ago which is very taxing on young, developing immune systems. So they're continuing to practice medicine for a world that no longer exists :(

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Well from a point of view that is totally anti- steroids and anti plugging a child full of chemicals, my best suggestion would be get to an alternative practitioner or an infectious disease specialist. Obviously the allergists are not resolving this, just hustling (sorry but proper health care is close to my heart) pharmeceuticals that are just band aids. And have the potential to exxacerbate the problem. Get to the root of it.

That scares me to hear of kids on sterioids, let alone adults! They're a snowball effect. In other words they get more and more expensive and less and less effective. So find something that will actually work.

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answers from Grand Rapids on

wow. sounds just like my son! except for the bronchitis part. he had pneumonia several times. every time he'd get a cold we'd spend nights and days with uncontrollable coughing, to the point of vomiting, and many trips to the ER. FINALLY he was diagnosed with asthma and is now under daily treatments of pulmicort and he's so much better, can play normally with the other kids without getting tired & having a coughing fit. now when he gets a cold, it's usually just a cold and doesn't develop into much more. the thing with little kids like that is there's no test they can do for asthma to say if yes they have it, no they don't. they just have to follow the history and then make a diagnosis. now, it sounds to me like she should have been diagnosed with it already, esp with all the bouts of bronchitis!! poor thing! and you feel so helpless when your baby can't catch their breath! anyhow, if i were you i'd consider taking her to her doc to sit down and have a conversation about asthma and how to control it b/c you can't be going in to the doc and/or ER all the time. or, which this is probably the first thing i would do, is take her to a different pediatrician to discuss her history and see if they take a more serious look at her situation. some docs tend to zip thru patients and not take enough time to look at all the factors and history so it's up to you to make sure they remember.
anyhow, good luck! i hope you get some relief for your little one soon!!
also, my doc told us that the pulmicort takes up to 2 weeks to get into their system to start taking care of the problem. also, i'm to administer it to him 2x daily if he has a cold or if i think he's coming down with something. normally he gets it once a day. then if he's coughing to also give albuterol treatments. the albuterol helps calm a flare up, but doesn't prevent it from happening again. the pulmicort doesn't treat a flare up, just can help keep the bronchial tubes from flaring up and getting irritated. that's how it was explained to me.



answers from Lansing on


I also have indoor/outdoor allergies as well as food intolerances. When I was tested for allergies my first allergist ONLY tested me for the indoor/outdoor kind, did not even mention that some people who have lots of external allergies may also have problems with the foods they eat.

Because I have quite a few issues my husband and I had our son tested for food allergies and intolerances at the age of 3. It is a long story, but it comes down to changes in his behavior. After a simple blood test we learned he has 7 different food intolerances, but currently no allergies. He has been off the "bad" foods for over 3 years now and is doing great!

I agree with the mom who mentioned the elimination diet, but talk to an allergist before trying this with your daughter. The allergy nurses can give you suggestions and lots of good information about how to proceed with the diet safely and exactly how to test suspect foods.

You could also have her tested through a blood test, but the elimination diet is the most reliable and accurate. Make sure you take her to an allergist who works with children and knows about food allergies / intolerances. Some allergists don't even recognize the existence of food intolerances!

Yes, I think your daughter probably has asthma and it will need to continue to be treated, but her symptoms may improve when certain foods are removed from her diet.

Also if she has seasonal outdoor allergies (what you notice, not necessarily what the doctor says is negligible) then you will want to remove her from all bread products that contain yeast in the spring (mold allergy) or wheat in the summer (ragweed allergy). I have noticed when I remove these products from my diet my seasonal allergies are not as bad because my body is no longer fighting a battle on two fronts.

Good luck with your daughter and I hope she is feeling better soon.




answers from Detroit on

ok Asthma can be broncital. I have one daughter who has broncital asthma. When she gets sick or even a runny nose she coughs so hard and long she can't breath. My son has asthma when he runs or gets sick sometimes he gasps for breath. Is she ever gasping or coughing to where she can't breath? Unfortunatly asthma can take a while to clear up. I don't see why the steroid and antibiotic isn't working. From what you said. You should be doing more than 2 times a day breathing treatments though. She should be getting 3 to four a day. My dr. Has never said two. When ever they start to get sick or hear there breathing isn't right I put them on 4 times a day. Through a nebulizer. If you feel she is still weezing and it looks like she is having a hard time breathing which she maybe because of how you said she doesn't want to play. Do 4 times a day breathing treatments and see if that helps. Plus stay with the steroid. I don't know what Pediatrician's office you go to. But I see Dr. Ashraf Berry at Macomb Pediatrics and he is a very good dr. If you want a second opinion call his office ###-###-#### request to see him. If hes busy there may be a wait but let me tell you well worth it for your child. Good Luck!!!



answers from Detroit on

It sounds like a couple of things are going on. 1) because she had RSV, you have to question if there was any long term damage that could be contributing. by definition, long term means wait and see, so that is not on the front ine right now 2) sounds like asthma, as the other responders have said 3) she also has an infection. That is where all of the mucous is coming from. Many times, asthma may only show up when they have a respiratory illness. So both symptoms ahve to be treated. I can't tell from your post how long this has been going on, but I would give 3 weeks for the infection to inprove, from onset, and if it hasn't, talk to your dr. about taking a culture to make sure the antibiotic is the best one for the type of infection she has. Once the infection is under control, the asthma may calm down. If not, there are ways to manage it. I had to give my son breathing treatments for a year, daily with inhaled steroids, and a bronchodilator,but it did keep it under control.



answers from Saginaw on

Hello T., All 3 of my children had asthma, my youngest was very severe like your daughter. The pediatric allergist that we went to told me that if the nose isn't treated as well, the asthma cannot improve. The clearing of the throat is a sign of drainage, this agrivates the asthma. So all nebulizer treatments were done through a mask, what a difference it made. The medicine that helped him the most was Intal, it is a non-steroid prevenitive. It has to be used even when well to prevent the symtoms. It took about a week of using it before results were clear, but it was better than all the steroids. He used the nebulizer 3 times a day when well, and every 4 hours when symtomatic. At bed time, I would put the meds in the nebs, set them by the bed, and when the 4 hour alarm went off, simply hooked up the next neb to the machine, stapped the mask to his face, and dosed while he had his treatment. We both learned to sleep through this!! Another trick, is to get her to sleep in a sitting position when her asthma is bad. I used to have my son sleep in his car seat next to my bed, because he turned blue a few times on me in the night, and I became parinoid. Good luck. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.



answers from Grand Rapids on

Hi T.,

There is a direct correlation with cleaning products and asthma, and there are definelty some natural alternatives you could try for many of the issues you discussed above.

I specialize in nutritional consulting and would be more than happy to share additional information with you if you would like. Feel free to respond or email me at [email protected]

A. V.



answers from Detroit on

Your story is very similar to one of my daughters, who just turned 3. It started with a respitory virus that required hospitalization at 12 months. We went home with a nebulizer. After a year of treating her flare ups (congestion induced) with Xeponex with our pediatrician, we finally were referred to a pediatric allergist. The first one did the skin test (no allergies) and started a daily dose of pulmicort (preventative) and xeponex as needed for flare ups. Around the same time, I found out (on Mamasource) about the book "Is This Your Child" by Doris Rapp (PR already recommended). I highly recommend you get this book! This was the turning point for me. This book made me realize what many others have already posted….your pediatric allergist is trained for a world that existed 20-40 years ago, he/she will help you get through the immediate issue but will not find and treat what is causing the issue. The book show 8 symptoms of food issues and my daughter had all 8!!! But has tested negative for food allergies. I have always suspected dairy issues. So I decided to explore further (totally against pediatric allergist recommendation, note as others have said…you must become your child’s advocate). I took her to a homeopathic doctor who put her on cell salts (enzymes) (food sentivities are usually due to enzyme deficiency) and put her on rice milk! What a difference! Immediately affected behavior rollercoaster we were on. Other symptoms were minimized but have not disappeared…so our journey continues. We now realize she has reflux (which is getting worse) so we are also seeing a GI doctor and still trying to get that under control which is probably contributing. The human body is an amazing machine and it is all related and we are still trying to sort it all out. We are getting ready to do a 2 week dairy elimination diet this month. T., I won’t go on any more. I wanted to post to let you know you are not alone and give you some other resources to check out (in addition to those already listed):
Dr. Sears website
Food allergy network website
Support Group (Super Kids) (click on S.U.P.E.R.K.I.D.S)
Book – Tracking Down Hidden Food Allergies
Good luck with your journey!



answers from Detroit on

Sorry to hear she's having a hard time. I just read a lot of good alternitive suggestions.
Gluten sensitivities have an amazing range of symptoms. My husband, daughter and I are gluten free, and all have different reactions. My daughter has some of each of ours. It has links to autoimune problems. And a lot of people also don't do well w/ dairy.

I just had this wonderful cough syrup by Boiron, chestal honey homeopathic cough syrup. It works on coughs, loosens chest congestion, and is non drowsy. It really worked for me, stoped my hacking cough right away. So that and a change in diet wouldn't hurt.

Good luck! A. H



answers from Detroit on

I vote for "maybe something else". How much MILK and dairy products does she consume? Milk, ice cream, yogurt, mac & cheese, pizza, grilled cheese, chocolate milk, ANYthing, any bread, any cracker with milk as an ingredient?

When the doctor said "allergies are the cause" (words from your post) did he/she order any allergy testing or walk you through a rotation diet to try to find a food as a culprit?

The symptoms you list are HIGHLY associated w/ a milk allergy or milk intolerance. Gluten would be the next food I'd consider, but the post you wrote SCREAMS "milk problems", from the pebbles of poop to the long term-ness of the bronchitis. There are other foods on the list of foods that kids tend to be allergic to -- those are easy to find on the internet.

Does she CRAVE any particular food more than others? We tend to crave the foods that we are allergic to or intolerant of. If she has one food that is heads above all others in terms of being a favorite or something she craves, that one may need to go for a while.

Keeping a food journal for a couple of weeks (or longer) may be helpful. Jot down everything she eats and all the behaviors and symptoms you see. Pebbly poop, sleep issues, wheezing, crackling, whatever, write it down alongside what she ate that day. After a couple of weeks, you may be able to see that eating a food on one day can lead to a symptom three days later in terms of a delayed food reaction. The journal helps you recognize patterns if there are any.

Find a copy of "Is This Your Child?" by Doris Rapp MD. The library probably has it or can get it for you through interlibrary loan.

Consider removing all milk/dairy (they're the same thing) from her diet for a couple of weeks as a trial. Don't switch to soy at that time -- soy can cause similar problems for children. Talk to your pediatrician or a nutritionist about a calcium supplement or foods high in calcium to use during a trial period w/ no milk.

Consider both immediate reaction food allergy testing and delayed food allergy testing for her. Rule out foods as a contributor to her issues. She may not need ANY meds if you learn that a food is a contributor and you're able to remove it.

If she is allergic to EGGS, you'll want to be careful w/ vaccinations. The flu shot and the flu mist are cultured in eggs. The MMR is cultured in eggs. You need to find out what she's allergic to and avoid any vaccinations that contain those allergens.

Please read about Miralax before considering it. I noticed someone else recommended it:

Good luck!



answers from Saginaw on


Without getting into writing a novel, this is much like what I went thru with my (almost) 2 year old. We have Pulmicort for a preventative which we give him at the onset of cold symptoms - once in the evening if the cold symptoms aren't too bad, and twice a day if they are more concerning. We recently went thru a bought and had was on Orapred (twice a day for 3 days, then once a day for 3 days), Albuterol every 4 hours, and Pulmicort twice a day. The first dose of Orapred didn't do it for him, so he got a second round which another Dr in the office dosed a bit differently than the first (twice a day for 5 days). This did it for us, and he is now off all treatments until the onset of the next cold... I would ask the doc about upping her Albuterol thru this. We were told every 4 hours if needed. As I'm sure you know, the Pulmicort is a preventative and won't help once an attack has begun - that is when you need the Albuterol. And the sooner you get the attack under control, the better. And yes, it is not unheard of to cough to the point of gagging or vomiting, though we have been fortunate to not get to this point with our son.

She also sounds to me to be fighting constipation, which is something we went thru with our oldest. You may try a little Miralax once a day in her juice/milk and see if it helps any. I wouldn't worry too much if she is healthy. Is she growing height-wise? I only ask because a coworker's son had seemed to stop gaining both weight and height though he seemed healthy otherwise, and it was found he had celiac disease and just needed to alter his diet to accomodate his body's limitations.

Best of luck to you, and I'm sure she'll be fine soon. It seems like it takes the buggers forever to fully recover from a bad attack. Luckily we've only ever had 2 attacks - one mild and one significant. So sorry that she's having such trouble, I know how hard it is...


answers from Detroit on

Hello T.~ Sounds like it could be asthma. Went through the same things w/my daughter who is now 4 years old. She had RSV around 3 months (December baby) & Broncholitis we did the oral steriods (orapred) breathing treatments of Pulmicort & Albuterol daily. We did get a diagnosis of asthma (she also has severe dairy & egg allergies) & the winter months seem to be especially harder for her; catches colds a preventative through the winter we would use the pulmicort & if she got a cold w/the cough we also would do the albuterol. When she was about 2 1/2 our pediatrician prescribed flovent w/an aerochamber & we use this as our "winter" preventative though at least March & then the albuterol as her "rescue" extreme coughing. In the past when she's had a cold & couldn't shake the cough we were given orapred for her; which has helped. You don't mention where her doctor is; we use U of M I hope you can get some answers.~ M.



answers from Great Falls on

I so would like to know what you have done since you posted this. I am losing a similar battle. My son, who is now 2 1/2, was diagnosed with RSV at 3 months. Since then, he has suffered from horrible allergy like symptoms and he has been diagnosed with multiple lung infections, including pneumonia twice THIS year. Now they say he has asthma. He has been on everything including Pulmicort, Albuterol, Xopenex, Clariton, Zyrtec, Flovent and multiple oral steriods and antibiotics. I am scared. I feel that all of this is damaging him and I don't know what to do. We see his primary doc and a pediatric pulmonologist. No one wants to test him. They just keep giving him more drugs. He continues to be sick and suffer. Please help.

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