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Mumsnetters aren't necessarily qualified to help if your child is unwell. If you have any serious medical concerns, we would urge you to consult your GP.

Asthma tips, please!

(19 Posts)
ScarletBear Mon 20-Jul-09 11:53:15

Thanks, BlueSmarties and Mummytopebs! I took her down this morning, having got her an emergency appointment, as she was really coughing last night. When we got her into the surgery, the GP told her that he wanted to listen to her back, to hear her breathing, pressed it on, at which point she had a fit of the giggles, which turned into a major coughing fit. The GP looked alarmed, and decided then are there to put her on a breathing machine thing (I can't remember the name), to stop the coughing, which she didn't like, and resisted, but worked after about ten minutes. Then he told me that there was no doubt she had 'breathing problems', and that he was going to prescribe two inhalers, a blue and a brown, one for the morning and evening, and one for if she is breathless, or can't stop coughing (what counts as this - I'm unsure).
We have an appointment with the asthma nurse in a fortnight, but I would really like general tips/answers to these questions, please!
1. What should I tell her about her asthma.
2. When should I give the blue inhaler.
3. How should I get her to take the inhalers? She's already told me she doesn't want to, and after the breathing machine thing, I'm worried.

Sorry it's long!

ScarletBear Mon 20-Jul-09 15:44:26

Please post! Any tips would be useful!

TantieTowie Mon 20-Jul-09 20:21:16

Speaking solely as an asthmatic, no medical expertise (!):
1. The nurse at my doctor's surgery tells me there's no reason why anyone with asthma should be suffering the symptoms because it can usually be completely controlled by the two sprays that you have.
2. Blue inhaler is for when she has bad asthma now and needs to stop it. It has an immediate effect.
3. Brown inhaler is to take as prescribed - it's a steroid and prevents attacks.
She'll probably be given a spacer that you puff the spray into and breathe out of, but in the meantime, you breathe right out, puff the spray and breathe in again.

Tell her taking inhalers is much nicer than having asthma attacks! They can stop you having to worry about it all together.

Sidge Mon 20-Jul-09 20:29:53

How old is she?

She MUST have the brown one through a spacer; you should have also been given on prescription a spacer, either a plastic bubble-type thing (Volumatic spacer) or an Aerochamber (yellow or blue tube).

The blue one is a reliever - give it to her (also via the spacer) when she is coughing, wheezing or short of breath. She may say her chest feels tight, and sometimes young children describe it as 'their tummy hurts'.

The brown one is an inhaled steroid and reduces the inflammation in the airways. It must be given regularly (ie approx every 12 hours, so morning and evening) and will take a couple of weeks to work properly.

Depending on her age depends on how you can best give the inhalers; I'll post again with some tips when I know how old she is!

In the meantime have a look at Asthma UK

phlossie Mon 20-Jul-09 20:34:34

How old's your dd? Mine (22mo) uses both inhalers. I give her the blue one (Ventolin) when she seems wheezy, and the brown one when she seems like she might be getting wheezy - hayfever, colds etc trigger it.

A good test for wheeziness is simply to get her to talk. I get my dd to sing 'twinkle twinkle little star' and if she has to draw breath too often I know she probably needs a puff. If it's really bad (usually in the middle of the night) we give her 10 puffs in her spacer (a big plastic thing that you stick the inhaler in at one end and the child breathes through the other), which the doctor said was like having a nebulizer - which is what the breathing machine she used at the surgery was. We call my dd's inhalers her 'cough medicine', that seems to go down ok. Just treat it like any other medicine, I would.

The nebulizer (I have no idea how it's spelled!) is a fast treatment that doctors use to relieve asthma symptoms. In older children/adults they also use something called a peak-flow meter. You puff hard into it and it basically measures how hard you can blow. The asthma nurse will probably record your dd's 'normal' peak-flow reading, so they know in the future when it's low IYSWIM.

My husband's also asthmatic. And my brother.

It's not so bad, and perfectly controllable!

phlossie Mon 20-Jul-09 20:37:45

I second Sidge - the steroid inhaler works more as you use it more. We give our dd two puffs twice a day morning and night through her spacer when she's under the weather.

lydiane Mon 20-Jul-09 21:47:45

ds is 6 and asthmatic.
he has 2 squirts of the brown 2 times a day.
the blue one is used when he is struggling to breath/wheezey.
the nebuliser is just like a big strong dose of the blue pump.

you will find over time that this will all become less scarey. it is such a part of our life now that is almost routine.
over time also it might be good to look for triggers. for instance we realised that dust, cat hair and grass set off ds asthma (we had this confirmed with a blood test). knowing this has really helped. we make sure that we wet dust now and regulary steam clean ds room.
we also use antihistamine(sp?) during spring/summer.
good luck - this will get easier.

pluto Mon 20-Jul-09 22:05:29

DS had asthma attack when he was nearly 4 and was hospitilised for 3 days. It was traumatic at the time but I was told he would probably grow out of it and really he has, he is now 9. All the advice you have been given about inhalers etc is what I would have said. Try not to worry

Elibean Mon 20-Jul-09 22:26:18

Both my dds have brown (steroid) inhalers and spacers, and the younger one (2.5) has a mask to use along with the spacer, which fits over her mouth and nose.

With dd1 who is 5, I just explain its medicine and she enjoys the challenge of doing it right (!), but with dd2, who used to hate it and try to refuse it, I resorted to plain bribery....she's only just started needing it (in case of flu, as per GP instructions and Sidge's wise advice!) and I simply let her have one very small sweetie per day in recognition of her bravery. I would hever have done this with dd1, but time is of the essence now and it works beautifully - she now does it as a matter of course and hardly ever remembers to ask for her reward wink

I did, of course, go through applying mask and spacer to Teddy, to myself, etc first to make it un-scary....that all helped a bit, but not half as much as the sweet hmm

TDiddyIsaMan Mon 20-Jul-09 22:39:34

ys, try to find out triggers by observing her over the seasons. If dust/dust mites then consider wooden/laminate floors especially in her bedroom.

Consider buying a Roomba for frequent, light vaccuuming.

Contrary to some views, I think lots of aerobic exercise is good for child long term. Best to keep brown inhaler going as prevention is better than (blue) cure, I think.

As soon as she is old enough worth gettinh her trained at dispensing her own medication IMO.

All of mine have eczema, food allergies and asthma as they are all linked to the (mal)functioning of the immune system. Controlling allergens seems to affect all three of the mentioned.

PS this is all lay speak as I am not medically trained.

ScarletBear Tue 21-Jul-09 11:02:47

Thanks for all the replies!
A couple of you have asked for her age - DD is 5, and going into Y1 after the holidays. That's another thing, actually: what should I do about school?
I also meant to say that DD has a 'spacer' - it's a tube with yellow lining bits (the GP said to use this with the brown inhaler), and a mask for use with the blue one.
Please please please keep the tips coming - she's just cried when I had to give her the brown one, which made her cough, and a bit wheezy - I need all the help I can get!

lydiane Tue 21-Jul-09 15:31:22

I informed ds school when he started. They keep a blue pump and spacer in the office. As there are quite a few asthmatic children put names on. If you only have 1 pump - mention it to the asthma nurse and they can provide an extra pum (or prescription for one)
Ds has had astma since being a toddler - so as he has grown with it he is very laid back.
I can imagine a 5 year old is going to find it all strange. I should imagine that the mask is a bit scary. could you use the spacer? as she is 5 - I would think a spacer is more appropriate. It might be worth ringing your doctors and asking if this is ok (do they have nurses you could speak to)
a mask gives like a smothering reflex.
just reread your post and realised she is struggling with the brown pump - which is the spacer - so ignore what I have just said!!!!!!!!!!

It will get easier - she will really get used to it I promise. Ds is so matter of fact about it. if we go to the park and he gets wheezey he comes over and asks for his pump - uses it and then goes off again!
I know it doesnt feel like it at the moment - but it will all become easier.

With ds if ever I need to coax him bribery works! (sounds awful but it is true)
to take her mind off the pump buisness could you have a sweet as a reward when she takes her pump? Or create a sticker chart to mark her bravery and after 10 sticker she get a small reward. It could turn the whole thing into a more positive experience.

Also - do you think that you are tense about it and this could make her more tense? If I get a bit stressed it has the same effect on my ds - so sometimes I leave dh to deal with things - cause he is less emotional than me and more relaxed it has a calmer effect on ds.

Totally agree with what has been said re exercise. To help with ds lung capacity we encourage him to lots of sports. alot of people think less exercise is best for astmatics - but fresh air and exercise is healthy. obviously dont go do a run around the block if they are very wheezey! wait until you have it all under control (which will be soon with the help of the brown pump)

hope this helps - will think of some more tips no doubt and will be back xx

TDiddyIsaMan Tue 21-Jul-09 17:46:38

are you bot interested in running or tennis or similar? Was thinking that you could share a tennis coach or agree to train for a 10k run together or something like that.

phlossie Tue 21-Jul-09 18:18:13

My dh cuts back on dairy when he's feeling snotty/wheezy and that helped him - though that's not scientific, just theory. Both dh and dd cough when inhaling steriods - it's quite normal, and that's why the spacer's so good.

TDiddyIsaMan Tue 21-Jul-09 18:25:38

obviously posted on wrong thread

ScarletBear Tue 21-Jul-09 18:26:49

Thanks for all the continuing messages - I'm starting to feel a bit more confident, although she's not, and I'm still not sure when I should be giving her the blue one (sorry!).
Please keep the tips coming!

weblette Tue 21-Jul-09 18:38:46

Ds2 is also 5 and about to go into Yr1. He can have severe attacks so might not be the best example for your dd.

His asthma comes on with respiratory viruses and although we can never control it completely, it's 'dampened down' by taking Seretide - a purple inhaler that's the next step on from brown and a daily tablet called Singulair.

He has a blue inhaler and spacer in school just in case. We've written guidelines about what to do should he have an attack which we update every time he sees the paediatrician. School would only take the inhaler/spacer with the prescription label on it.

He's aware that 'puff puff' makes him feel better and tells me when he needs it, he can now do his own purple one - which broke my heart first time I watched him

When he first got the spacer we let him cover it in stickers, we also got him a special toy which also 'had a bad cough sometimes and needed puff puff'. He practised giving it to the toy and fitting the mask properly.

Something I was aware from early on was how to spot the severity of an attack. The main signs of respiratory distress are 'tug' - when the notch at the very bottom of the neck is sucked in when they inhale, and intercostal movement - when the ribs are sucked in. Flaring nostrils can be another sign.

Our asthma nurse is fab - we don't see her as much now ds is under the paediatrician but she was far far more clued up than the gp.

Good luck!

ScarletBear Wed 22-Jul-09 19:06:14

Thanks for all the tips - I really appreciate it!
We've had another rocky day here - she really doesn't want to do the inhalers, and seems to be getting quite wheezy without them - I've told her she needs to take them to get better, but she just cries and refuses (and the crying makes her breathing worse!). . .
Please can you keep the tips coming - I feel like I'm just about treading water with it, but I'm scared she's going to have an attack if I don't get the inhalers into her!

weblette Thu 23-Jul-09 17:37:44

If she's still not recovered I'd consider taking her back to the gp or failing that, see the nurse. There's a tablet form of steroid which is extremely effective at calming their lungs.

Hope she's feeling better today.

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