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How do you know if a child has asthma? Is there a definitive test?

(14 Posts)
DontBePlonkerRodney Wed 12-Nov-14 11:27:22

Hi. I'm sorry if this is a stupid question. I'm totally confused.

DS is 8. He's got eczema, so is at higher risk of asthma.

He has also at times had a bit of a cough first thing in the morning. I've never heard him wheeze, though. He's totally fine at night. He occasionally sort of "gasps", but I'm not sure if this is respiratory or anxiety-related.
Because I wasn't sure, we asked about inhalers and the doctor has given him brown (two puffs twice daily) and blue (for as and when) ones.
I don't really know if they've made a difference or not. DP (DS's dad) thinks I'm making a fuss about nothing and that DS doesn't need inhalers at all.
When the doctor did a peak flow reading (before prescribing the inhalers), he said it was absolutely fine (but prescribed inhalers anyway).

Is there a test to show definitively whether a child has asthma or not?

Thank you for reading.

DontBePlonkerRodney Wed 12-Nov-14 11:31:46

I should perhaps add that DS also has some tics, and the coughing/gasping may be a part of this, rather than related to asthma. But it's really hard to tell.

PJ67 Wed 12-Nov-14 14:50:52

Hi. My son doesn't have asthma but does get tics and has had a breathing/gasping one. I also took him to the GP thinking it may be asthma but decided it was a tic. He did it for a few months and it was like he was trying to take a big deep breath. Didnt happen during the night and no wheezing.

DontBePlonkerRodney Wed 12-Nov-14 14:54:48

Hi PJ. Thank you so much for your reply.
That sounds just like what my son does.
It also doesn't happen during the night and no wheezing.
It's mainly because he also has eczema that I wonder.

All the best to you and your DS.

Sirzy Wed 12-Nov-14 17:33:50

There is such a thing as cough varient asthma, asthma doesn't always mean wheezing. DS is generally a 'silent' asthmatic and shows all the signs without the wheezing most of the time.

I think generally it is diagnosed via the ongoing symptoms. DS was diagnosed very young though and is still only just old enough to be trying peak flow so there may be more certain ways for older children but generally its just symptoms and some trial and error for treatment!

Theorientcalf Wed 12-Nov-14 17:46:29

If your DS isn't wheezy and his peak flow is fine I'm not sure why your GP prescribed inhalers.

Theorientcalf Wed 12-Nov-14 17:47:41

Sorry pressed send too soon. That doesn't mean it's not inappropriate to prescribe them for a cough.

DontBePlonkerRodney Thu 13-Nov-14 09:50:54

Thanks for your replies Sirzy and Theorient.

Sirzy, which signs do you mean other than wheezing, if you don't mind my asking? Is it mainly coughing?
My problem is that I don't feel able to judge, myself, whether DS's signs are asthma or not, but the doctor seems to leave it up to me to decide whether DS has asthma. Theorient, the doctor took peak flow, said it was fine, but then said peak flow was so variable that having a normal reading didn't really mean much.
I'm a bit concerned that I'm giving steroids to DS unneccessarily.
But when I wasn't giving them to him I worried that he had untreated asthma....
Such is life, I suppose.

Thanks again.

DontBePlonkerRodney Thu 13-Nov-14 09:51:46

PS hope your DS is doing well sirzy

octopal Thu 13-Nov-14 09:56:57

My dd is like Sirzy's ds. She has asthma but is not inclined to wheeze much and when she does it is very difficult, even for doctors, to detect.

When her asthma is uncontrolled she has a night cough, lacking in energy and it leads to an asthma attack.

She is 8 now and still can't get to grips with doing peak flow properly.
'if you have asthma symptoms that are relieved with asthma medication then you have asthma'. I suppose that is a simplistic way of looking at it but he was talking in terms of dd as a toddler who couldn't do peak flow etc.

octopal Thu 13-Nov-14 09:57:54

Oops a bit missing in my last post. The quote is what dd's paed said about diagnosing asthma in young children.

DontBePlonkerRodney Thu 13-Nov-14 11:32:07

That's really helpful, octopal - thanks.
Hope things are going well with your DD.

I think my problem is that I'm not really sure whether the symptoms DS has get better with the inhalers or not. The first thing in the morning cough seems unaffected (sometimes there for a while, sometimes not, and seems the same since the inhalers), but I think perhaps the gasping has got better, and he perhaps looks less pale (although these things could be unrelated to asthma). It's all made more complicated by the fact DP thinks I'm medicating him unneccessarily.

Thanks again for the replies.

Sirzy Thu 13-Nov-14 18:45:07

DS coughs a lot when ill, he is often uncharactically grumpy and very pale: he also "tugs" in at the neck

kimlo Thu 13-Nov-14 18:57:13

Dd1 is 10, she was diagnosed with asthma by taking her peak flow before taking a blue inhaler and after taking one same as me. The nurse that did the test did say though that she was young for that test and the biggest sign that she had asthma was that her cough went away when she started on the blue and brown inhalers.

the only symptom she had was a cough that was worse at night, she had never had a wheeze. The cough went away completely after she had taken the brown inhaler for a few days, and she never needs the blue one.

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