Just Found Out My Son Has Asthma

Updated on January 27, 2007
S.J. asks from Columbus, OH
19 answers

I just found out last month my 7 year old son has asthma. I don't know anyone who has asthma. The Dr. put him on Asmanex (once a day) and Xopenex (inhaler). I can handle the Asmanex, but when do I have him use the inhaler? How do I know if his cough is asthma or just a cold? I have 4 boys, colds are a part of life. I already feel bad for not seeing something was wrong. I feel worse not knowing what to do. Please give me some advice.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your advice, for sharing your stories and for the web links. My son has gone back to the doctor and we worked out a treatment plan. They also gave me a Peak Flow Meter. Robbie is doing much better. And my family is learning all this together.
The web links some of you shared were very helpful. I have shared them with my family so they can understand better.
Thanks again for sharing your asthma stories. They really helped me feel better, not so alone.

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N.P.

answers from Toledo on

My 5 year old has asthma (allergy related) he is on Flovent, Albuterol inhaler, and sigulair, Clairtan...

The flovent is the preventative... so he takes that 2 times daily. The singulair and Claritan are preventatives too... he has food allergies (all legumes including soy (mild), peanut (severe) and peas (well super severe)

The Albuterol he has when he has asthma symptoms. For him, he has little coughs constantly (mild) or is wheezing when he talks/breaths, or is coughing a lot at night. Pretty much when in doubt I give him Albuterol.

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T.F.

answers from Toledo on

I have had asthma since I was a kid and now I make breathing my life as I am a Respiratory Therapist. Some suggestions from other moms were very good. If you didnt get a Peak Flow Meter or a spacer to use with the inhaler you should talk to your doctor about those. The peak flow meter will help you and your son learn to tell when his asthma is acting up. They are very easy to use and may even be fun at first. They just take a deep breathe and blow as hard as he can into it. By getting this number you will be able to tell how much air is he is getting out which is very important because like another mom mentioned asthmatics have trouble getting air out. Depending on the number he may need to use his inhaler or if it very low then a trip to the ER may be in order.

A general rule for use of the rescue inhaler is every 4-6 hours as needed. I mentioned a spacer above, this is a plastic tube in which the inhaler is placed at one end and the other is a one way valve with the mouthpiece. The eliminates many problems people have in coordinating actuating the inhaler and breathing in. It also allows for more medicine to get into the lungs instead of the back of the throat. Another tip is if your son does have a cold it is not going to hurt to use the Xopenex regularly. Giving him 2 puffs four times a day may just help him make it through a normal cold without major breathing issues.

My next suggestion would be to get a pulmonologist if you dont already have one. They are much better at managing your childs asthma than a regular doctor would be. In time you will learn what effects your sons asthma. Keeping a journal of what was going on before he was having trouble would help. Asthma is all about triggers and the sooner you learn what they are the better your child will feel. You will in time learn the signs of when your son is not feeling well. Many moms gave you great clues and I am sure that if you think about it you can tell when something is just not right with him. To this day my family can look at me and know if I am even having a little trouble. A good sign that I didnt see mentioned is if you find your son in a "tripod" position. That would be sitting up leaning forward with his arms holding him up.

If I can be of anymore help let me know.
T.
[email protected]____.com

1 mom found this helpful
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T.B.

answers from Youngstown on

Hi S.. My 4 yr old son has asthma, diagnosed at 2. We were constantly at the ER with him and I swore if they told me he had CROUP one more time, I was going to scream. Turns out he was having asthma attacks. Ask your Dr about a PEAK FLOW METER it measures how much air your son is pushing. The asmanex is a maintenance medication, which means it, on a daily basis, helps to keep any inflamation out of the airways.The xopenex is a resue med. The other ladies said it best watch the muscles in his chest and neck and listen for wheezing, also my son will try to take a deep breath and you can see the strugle for air, SCARY! Talk to your asthma specialist. Call the office and tell them you have some concerns and questions and would like to make an appointment to have these issues addressed. A good Dr will ease your fears and give you the advice you need. Good luck and please let us know how everything goes.
T.

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M.P.

answers from Dayton on

i have asthma and the differance for me is i start breathing really fast almost hyperventalating comes with the cough plus i act hyper. hope this helps.

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T.W.

answers from Cleveland on

Please ask your doctor. He or she has the correct answers.

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K.J.

answers from Columbus on

Oh wow, I am so sorry. I know how hard it is, I have a 4 yr old and a 17 month old with asthma. My 4 yr old was diagnosed one month before he turned 2, that was all after we had just got a baby kitten, found out he is allergic to cats and that triggered his asthma. He ended up being in the hospital for 4 days and then released , two weeks later back in the hospital for 4 more days in a oxygen tent. It was extremely hard to deal with and very scary for us all. So now he has a pulmologist and a allergist at childrens hospital columbus, I strongly would recommend a referral to a specialist. His are great and he sees them twice a year. He is on Albuterol nebulizer treatments as needed for cough/wheezing, Albuterol Inhaler, Singular chewables,Loratdine and Flovent twice a day and he has been off and on Zyrtec and Orapred. We just found out that my 17 month old daughter has it after now her 4th episode of cough/wheezing and broncitis. Just yesterday she went to the doctor , she has broncitis again, and had to have a chest xray to check for pneumonia. She is on Pulmicort nebulizer treatments twice a day for the rest of the winter, it contains a steriod. And she for right now is on Albuterol treatments every 4 hrs.

You'll get to notice just a regular cold cough and a asthma cough, it souns more raspy and dry when it's asthma, somtimes deep sounding. Alot of times you'll hear a slight wheeze,other times depending on the child , might set off bad wheezing like my son.

Good luck and if you ever need to talk about anything just let me know.

Big Hugs!!!

I have 4 boys to :) ages 7,5,4,3 and a daughter 17 months

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L.B.

answers from Dayton on

Hi S. , My name is L. , I also have Asthma and it sucks having it ...I am sorry your son has it , The time to use the inhaler is when he cant breathe , short of breath or sounds as if hes sucking air ...

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C.D.

answers from Dayton on

I have asthma. My name is C. Derocher. My daughter also has had asthma since she was an infant but was not diagnosed till she was two... She had bronchitis since the first month of life. It subsided through her early adolescence till her track coaches found it in her second year of high school.

Doctors are not quick to diagnose. Don't feel bad. My eldest son has just developed asthma as an adult. All of ours are the allergic type...

"Someone suffering through an asthma attack may appear to be gasping for breath. But in fact, it is easier to breathe in during an asthma attack than it is to breathe out. As more air flows in, it becomes trapped in the lungs, which become overinflated. Asthmatics continue to try to push this ever–increasing amount of inhaled air out of their lungs and through a narrowed airway, usually with limited success."
"Signs of childhood asthma differ depending on the age of the patient. Symptoms in infants may include:
Breathing increases to more than 40 breaths per minute during sleep
Feeding or suckling ceases
Chest size appears to expand
Nostrils flare
Skin is pulled tight between an infant’s ribs
Face turns pale or red; fingernails turn bluish
Grunting
Children with asthma may exhibit several signs of the disease, or may suffer through just one symptom, such as a chronic cough. Symptoms of asthma in children may include:

Regular coughing
Chest pain or tightness
Less energy while playing
Shortness of breath
Rapid breathing
Chin or throat itchiness
Dark circles beneath the eyes
Wheezing
Frequent respiratory infections"

Quote from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America...

This site can help you learn more
http://www.aafa.org/

You may hear a wheezing if you listen closely some times it will be very loud. The cough is a bark sound as air is forced tough a small opening on the way out. In any case your child will be in great distress and can become lightheaded just prior to the bluish nails. If you lay your hand over his lungs on the front or back you may feel the mucus moving. These were my ways of determining in my daughter when she was a baby. I feel like a truck is parked on my chest. Children will describe it many ways...

I hope this helps... It is important to get as much information about asthma for your child so you can remain calm during an attack.

Always have the inhaler with the child... You can do this. The first step is taking proactive measures as you are clearly doing.

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E.M.

answers from Cleveland on

Hi S.-
My son had asthma that early as well. I had asthma going up but grew out of it so it was not as scary to me as it is to you..but definately still scary cause it is your baby!! Is your son on a nebulizer machine rather than an inhaler? I would think an inhaler would be ineffective due to his age?? I'm not a doc at all but just knowing what my son does and how inhalers work myself it seem odd they woudl do that? My son is on Pulmicort and Albuterol. The rule for his meds are Pulimicort as a preventative (its' a steroid). he gets thsi as a cold comes on then for 2 weeks after symptoms go away. the Albuterol is a RESCUE...so when he is having asthma attacks this helps. When they need the medicine you may hear gurgling sounding breathing or notice through theneck chest and stomach that he is using all his muscles in these areas to breath. Look at yourself when you breath...you'll notice that you don't have alot of movement in these areas but when your son is having a hard time breathing you will notice these areas moving. I know it is hard to tell on a baby, and it's scary cause they can't tell you...I hope this helps. E-mail me directly if I can help you anymore. [email protected]____.com

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B.H.

answers from Cleveland on

Hello, everyone one is different,some things trigger a asthma attack. my grandson has it i could tell by his sound of his lungs if his asthma was kicking in and i would give him 3 treatments a day if really bad one treatment and wait 1 hour and do another one he is 3 and keep in touch with doctor ask questions.. also house hold cleaners can set them off i belong to a company that sells all natural products no chemicals or toxins if you would like some more info contact me good luck B.

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K.B.

answers from Cincinnati on

Do not feel bad first off. I know that's hard to say, but asthma is extremely hard to recongize, and can be mistaken for a cough. In fact, with my son, that's normally how I KNOW he's having an attack. My son is almost four, but I know he's having asthma problems over the cough because he can't finish a sentence. I will ask him to sing his ABC's and there are times he can't make it past D without coughing for 5 minutes. Sometimes, you can hear a wheezing. After a while, your son will be able to tell you when it's asthma. He will learn the difference. Many times with asthma they use a lot of their neck muscles to breath and with a regular cough they normally do not do this. I wish you the best of luck!

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J.G.

answers from Cleveland on

S.,

I have 3 kids (12-G, 2-G and 1-B) and one due in June, the two girls both have asthma. We found out with both of them when they were just over 2 years old. Things have changed a lot in the last 10 years for treatment.

The oldest was given a nebulizer and Albuteral (which you had to mix yourself), but even though we had the home machine – she was seen in the ER often. She was never put on any preventative medications. Recently we have started giving her the over the counter cingular with has helped her in her “peek” seasons. But she is now old enough to know when she need her inhaler.

My youngest had gone through allergy test and part of her issues stem from her allergies. She is on Zertch (before bed), Cingular (in the morning), Flovent - inhaler (2x a day) and Albuteral (inhaler/nebulizer - we have both) when needed. She was seen in the ER 3x and hospitalized 2x within a month before they got all her meds right and it took almost 2 month to get her completely under control.

It is a very scary thing, but it is something you learn very fast how to deal with. We were given a class at Akron Children’s Hospital before we were aloud to take her home and home medicate her. That way they were certain we knew when and how to give her her meds.

One thing I was told is a child with asthma shouldn’t be treated the same as a child without it when it comes to colds. In every other aspect they are the same… can run, play, and just be kids – as long as you can keep the breathing under control. But as for colds… we were told at the first site of a runny nose, watery eyes, or even a cough to start giving the Albuteral inhaler/nebulizer. Reason being is it is difficult to know what is an attack or what is a cold, plus most colds affect the lungs which affects the breathing. So, it is always better to be safe and use the inhaler then wait to long and even up at the ER for treatments. But if you do end up at the ER don’t look at is as you messed up… it happens to all of us with kids with asthma.

I know the class wasn’t where I wanted to be when I was there, but I’m glad it was monitory to take her home. I’m not sure where you live or if something similar is available around you, but if it is and you have questions about it… it might be a good idea to look into a class or something. They are educated to know the answers, give you more understanding of when he is going through, what meds are available and what the different is between them. They also let us know what kind of things can help to trigger is and what you can do around the house to help reduce the attacks.

Most of all know that you are doing everything that you can to care for you little ones… this is just one of the bumps in the road. Work with your son, he is a bit older and should be able to tell you when his lungs hurt and when they don’t. He will learn to tell you when he needs it – give it time. You both will adjust to it and will find your way!

J.

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M.H.

answers from Cleveland on

Their cough is usually a harsher cough, and sounds more like a croupy cough..... You will notice it is worse at night !!!
I have 2 children w/ it, and each is different... One is more tends to produce more mucus w/ hers.... So, watch at night if he goes into a coughing spell he may tend to choke a little (but please don't be alarmed).... Make sure you prop him up a little higher w/more pillows, it helps better with breathing at night!!!!!
I'm not sure what tends to flare you childs asthma, but some factors (as I'm sure they've told you) can be play/activity, cold weather, colds (illness), smoke, pet dander, dust, etc.
My children seem to have problems when the weather changes drasticly, the weather is extremely cold, or they are sick....

Also, now that you know that he has asthma you need to watch what cold medications you give to him.... Make sure with you doctor/pharmacy first before giving it to him......

I hope I have been of some help to you!!!!!

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J.R.

answers from Cleveland on

The doctor should have given you instructions for adminstering your son's medication. If he didn't (or if his instructions weren't clear), call his office and get more information from the nurse.

I have asthma, and I only use my inhaler when I'm having trouble breathing. But, your son's case may be different.

Since your son is 7 he's probably old enough to tell the difference between a "regular" cough and an asthma attack. Even when we're not sick, asthma sufferers sometimes cough to clear their airways so they can get a deep breath. You'll probably hear wheezing too. Wheezing is a tell-tale sign of an asthma attack.

Even when your son is sick and has a "regular" cough, it may trigger his asthma too. In this case, it's very difficult to tell the difference.

Again, I urge you to press your doctor for better instruction. Here is a website that may also be helpful. http://www.childrenscentralcal.org/content.asp?id=832&amp...

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D.E.

answers from Dayton on

I agree with the poster that said to talk to the doctors. Request a consult and write all your questions down. That way you won't forget anything when you get there. Don't beat yourself up over not knowing, these things sneak up on us as parents. We do the best we can but we're not psychic. Give yourself a pat on the back for being a loving concerned mama and give the doc a call. I think it will set your mind at ease to have your questions answered by a professional.

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P.G.

answers from Columbus on

My 10 year old son has asthma to, after a while you get the hang of when he needs to use his inhaler. Listen to his breathing, if he seems to be having a hard time breathing, or his breathing sounds kindy wheezy or rattled, he should take his inhaler, or if it hurts him to take a breath. Make sure when he goes out in the cold, that his mouth is covered, breathing in cold air can kinda agravate the asthma.

Good Luck

P.

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M.C.

answers from Youngstown on

Hi S.,

I have Asthma & so does my son he's going to be 13,,& he has had it since he was 15mo old..It has gotten better over the yrs..Didn't the dr tell you when he should use the inhaler useally it's every 4 to 6 hrs .I haven't heard Xopenex in a inhaler..About the cough if you hear him weezing when he breathes or coughs that is an asthma attack not a cold..Have you taken him to see an allergist?

Don't feel bad about not knowing.. I can remember when my son was 15mo old & had is 1st attack & we were in the hospitail & on the way there i was mad at my husband for smoking around him..I tried so hard to keep him away form the smoke cuz i knew how it felt to have an attack & him not being old enough to uderstand that he was having trouble breathing.. I hope I have helped out . Anything I can do please feel free to write me..

M.
[email protected]____.com

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S.T.

answers from Cleveland on

Hi,
I have 2 kids that have asthma. My oldest is 13 and then my 6 year old has it also. Dan my oldest only takes albutorel as needed. Doug my 6 year old is on azmacort 2x a day. Plus albuterol as needed. We also have a neubulizer. When we found out with both of our kids that they had asthma, it was hard. We had no clue what to look for. If they are coughing at night and not during the day that is asthma. My 6 year old when he was first diagnosed his was way out of control. But it does take time. I know with my 6 year old if he starts clearing his throat alot like there is something in it then we give him his inhaler.
Any signs of chest pain, we give the inhaler.
Don't feel bad u are new to this, and it's going to take a little while for u to get use to it. I know our family dr. is a great help to us.

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B.P.

answers from Dayton on

S. my older son has ashtma. Found out at age 2 he is 4 almost 5 now. If you think this cough is not ashtma related have him checked out. Whats the worse thing they can tell you? not sure why they would put a 7 year old on Asmanex its for children 12 and older. the xopenex is used to relax the lungs. so for when to use the inhaler I would use it right before you give him the asmanex. In doubt call the dr. they have his chart and can tell you when to use them.

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