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Asthma - self help

(49 Posts)
Lonelymum Thu 07-Apr-05 16:05:48

I think ds2 has asthma. He has had a number f mild wheezing attacks when he has found it mildly difficult to get his breath. Today, he had a similar attack when running round the garden and needed to sit down for a bit. I can't get him an appt right away with the GP (need to ring tomorrow!) and NHS direct online doesn't answer my query which is this:

Given I have no access to drugs at the moment, what is the best thing I can do for him if/when he has another attack. They are really very mild but cause him some anxiety and I don't want to exacerbate his condition. Is sitting him quietly the right thing to do? Should he try to breathe slowly? Does it help to breathe with him? Anything else I could try? Thanks.

NotQuiteCockney Thu 07-Apr-05 16:09:09

It sounds like asthma, possibly exercise-induced. I have this, and just waiting until it passes seems to work if I have no puffer. Also, running about in cold, dry air is more likely to trigger it. I don't know of any tricks to make it go - it's not a matter of breathing too fast or whatever, there's actual fluid in your lungs when an attack comes.

It's very much worthwhile figuring out what the triggers are, so you can watch out or avoid them.

Lonelymum Thu 07-Apr-05 16:13:03

Well today he was running around, but the air is definitely damp not dry: it keeps raining! So just sit him down and wait for it to pass then?

GeorginaA Thu 07-Apr-05 19:15:18

Yep, get them to sit down until it passes. Keep them calm. If it doesn't seem to pass over 10-15 minutes then I'd probably seek medical advice depending on the severity of wheezing.

Jimjams Thu 07-Apr-05 19:19:54

ds2 is the same lonelymum. I've been waiting all winter to see if it went away when he didn't have a cold (he hasn't) so will take him to the docs next week. I also find that giving ds2 a drink can help.

Lonelymum Thu 07-Apr-05 20:36:00

He's having another attack now having gone to bed (but at the moment he is sleeping on an air bed on the floor and I don't think that is helping at all. It is getting quite worrying now although I suppose he isn't going blue or anything.

Shazzler Thu 07-Apr-05 20:48:00

If you are really worried insist that you see a DR now. Asthma is very scarey (I know as I have had it all my life and I still get scared if my inhaler doesn't work) and it is difficult to try and calm down a scarey child. It is important for you to remain calm too as this will transfer over to him.

Hope he is OK and that you are able to get some help from DR soon.

Lonelymum Thu 07-Apr-05 20:49:53

He seems quite calm now, watching TV with dh, but I am scared something will happen in the middle of the night. Also scared to put him back to bed if that is what is starting the attacks.

I will ring the doctor tomorrow though no matter what.

misdee Thu 07-Apr-05 20:57:56

tel lthem you need an appointment that day. dont be fobbed off. a snooty receptionist once told me over the phone that dd1 wheezing didnt warrent an amergency docs appointment, so i took her straight to a+e where they gave her a nebuliser. the docs surgery also had a nebuliser so i wasnt happy, as could've got dd1 to the surgery quicker than the hospital.

Lonelymum Thu 07-Apr-05 21:12:21

When I rang up today, wanting a general, non emergency appt, I was told it was not ppossible to book one of these in advance! So, from what I can gather, everytime I want an appt, I have to ring on the day I want it. This is going to be fun!

Shazzler Fri 08-Apr-05 15:33:56

How did you get on at the Drs today?

Lonelymum Sun 10-Apr-05 18:42:43

Dr said ds2 was a bit wheezy and gave us all the puffers and stuff. He has to take one twice a day and we go back in a fortnight to see how he is getting on. The diagnosis part seemed to get overlooked - as though it is just assumed it is asthma - though as I understand it, if it is asthma, and he takes the puffer, he should not get many attacks. If it isn't asthma, the puffer won't make any difference.

GeorginaA Sun 10-Apr-05 19:22:53

Did the doc listen to his lungs? There can be quite a distinct "rattle" to the wheeze which indicates asthma, apparently. Plus they should take into consideration the instances/circumstances when he gets wheezy (and exercise-induced is a fairly common category). It's worth keeping a note of any other things you think might trigger wheeziness too if you notice any.

A good place to look for information is the Asthma UK site - in particular you can look up the info about the puffers in detail (I've learned far more on there than I have via our practise nurse - and she's extremely thorough). The one you take twice daily is a preventor and hopefully once that kicks in (takes a few weeks) you should hardly ever need to use the reliever (the other puffer). If he ever gets to the stage where he's using the reliever frequently despite regularly using the preventor then take him up for a reassessment with the asthma nurse. You'll probably get an appointment at the surgery's asthma clinic once every 6 months or so to see how he's getting on, and it's perfectly possible he may grow out of it.

The asthma/not asthma isn't quite as straightforward as that... dh was prescribed a reliever inhaler for a short while for another lung problem and doesn't have asthma and it did help. And ds1 had one prescribed for a while when he was younger - can't remember the reasoning now but it did help at the time, but as far as we and the GP knows ds1 doesn't have asthma. Apparently children under 3 (okay, this bit is vague because the conversation was 3 years ago now and I forget the details) can have another condition which isn't asthma but ends up with very similar symptoms and is treated in the same way.

Anyway, he should be reassessed in 6 months time if you don't end up going back before then, which is good

mcmum Sun 10-Apr-05 21:14:07

hi I have asthma and so does my 7yr old little bot he has had it since he was 3months old, he is on becotide steriod inhaler and ventolin. He has been rushed to hospital several times in an ambulance for his and i know how unpleasant attacks are. My son is poorly after cold or the cold air, when he has an attack i give him ventolin through his spacer and this usually calms him down, when this does not work he normally gets a nebuliser at hosptal and then needs steriods all sounds really bad but this happens normally only 1 a year. I am a really neurotic mother if I could wrap him in cotton wool i would !!! i used to panic about him doing sports but now he swims and is captain of football team he plays 3 times a week ! and loves it I give him his inhaler 30 mins before excerise and this gets him through, in the long run I think the excerise has actually helped him more. Hope you get sorted out, good luck xx

Lonelymum Mon 11-Apr-05 19:55:41

Thanks Georgina and Mcmum. Yes the doc did listen to ds's chest and said he could hear a bit of wheezing. There wasn't any great attempt to discover if he really had asthma or not, but as I understand it, if the inhalers work when he wheezes, it is asthma and if they don't work, it isn't, so we are undergoing a trial period. Our next appt is in 2 weeks time. TBH, the GP seemed to assume it was asthma because his father has it, but ds is at least over three years old (he is 7) so it probably becomes more obvious to diagnose the older they become. (?)

Yes my ds has been given becotide to take twice daily and ventolin to take in the event of attacks. He has only needed the ventolin once in three days and that was today and occurred at school. As ds is not liking his new school and has had a couple of days off for a vague stomach ache, I half suspect that today's attack was not very real but simply an attention seeking exercise. I had to go to the school as he hasn't mastered the puffer on his own yet, and I couldn't really detect any wheezing, but I went along with him anyway.

Mcmum, having your child whisked off to hospital with breathing difficulties, even if it is only once a year, sounds terrifying. I hope ds's asthma doesn't get that bad.

GeorginaA Mon 11-Apr-05 20:09:52

Yes, if he's 7 it does make it much easier to diagnose - if it's in the family as well it makes it more likely too (unfortunately ). As I say though, he could easily grow out of it - and even then, if well controlled doesn't need to have a huge impact on your life.

I've been asthmatic since I was small, still have it, have in the past had a few scary attacks, but now the meds have it well under control and I can honestly say 99.99% of the time it makes no difference to my life whatsoever.

Definitely read that website link I gave you - in particular what to do in the event of a true asthma attack which is not responding to ventolin. Chances are you may never need to know, but if you do know (and your son knows) then it won't be that nagging fear in the back of your mind. Demystifies it a bit.

Oh and "faking it" can be really hard to determine - hearing wheeziness doesn't necessarily mean that he's not really uncomfortable. I used to hate accusations of faking it as a kid - after all it was me breathing in and out and was much more likely to be able to catch the early signs than them. Games teachers were the worst at this - always assumed that you were just trying to bunk off (well, okay, I may have been - but I still knew better than them when a quick puff of inhaler would have done me the world of good ). Extreme wheezy rattle is at the "late" end of symptoms, iyswim.

Lonelymum Tue 12-Apr-05 09:31:07

Thanks georgina for that advice about the possibility that ds may have been faking an asthma attack. I didn't realise that the wheezing was the tip of the iceberg if you see what I mean. I clearly have a lot to learn about this - I wish I didn't have to, but, with an asthmatic dh and 4 children, I suppose it was almost inevitable that one would get asthma too.

I have checked out your link too and added it to my favourites as I think I may need to refer to it from time to time.

Thanks again

GeorginaA Tue 12-Apr-05 10:39:57



Also something else I just thought of. Ventolin takes about 10 mins, as I recall (though please don't just take my word for it - I'm not a doctor), to work. So catching it with one puff earlier is a lot better than waiting to later. If you do feel he's so wheezy that he needs two puffs, it's generally better (unless really distressed) to space it so he takes one puff (remember to try and hold breath in afterwards for 10 seconds if he can manage it), sit down quietly for 10 mins before deciding to give another. If after 10 mins of second puff he's still struggling then it's a more serious attack and medical help should be sought.

Lonelymum Tue 12-Apr-05 12:45:45

Thanks again. I hope I can remember all this.

I am not sure ds has got the breathing in and puffing synchronisation right, but he is good at holding his breath for some time afterwards. That is important is it?

TBH, the doctor flung a load of information my way (stuff about only 20% of the medicine going into the lungs and the other 80% staying in the mouth, etc etc) and I am not really sure what is actually important and what is not. We are going back in two weeks and I suppose things may get sorted then, but in the meantime, all advice gratefully received.

GeorginaA Tue 12-Apr-05 14:17:21

Hehe... there's plenty of time and after 25 years or so you'll have it off pat too . Yes the holding of breath afterwards is very important, as is not allowing any "seepage" around the edges (so getting a good seal with the mouth around the inhaler). Practise makes perfect really, and with taking the becotide regularly he'll certainly get the practise

As I said, 99.99% of the time (once it's under control) it makes sod all difference to daily life - however, I know it's hard to remember that at the start when you're flooded with information and feeling it's rather a life sentence!!

dolally Wed 13-Apr-05 08:30:37

I notice you gals all talking about a Ventolin inhaler. My DD has ventolin (very rarely needs it) but in liquid form (tastes delicious she loves it). Is there any reason why your kids are not prescribed it? I can see that it could be difficult for a small child to master the inhaler - particularly when having an asthma attack.

GeorginaA Wed 13-Apr-05 08:35:48

dolally - the problem with the syrup is that it's much slower acting and you need a higher dose to take effect. Inhalers are generally preferred as they're low dose and go straight to the affected site (the lungs).

Yes the syrup is very good, but where possible I believe doctors prefer to give the inhalors for the above reasons and also so that the patient can begin the learning process of using them! The technique does take a little time to master, but as Lonelymum's ds2 has been prescribed a Becotide inhaler too which he needs to take twice a day, he should get plenty of practise

dolally Wed 13-Apr-05 21:44:59

Georgina, thanks, of course that makes sense that the inhalor goes straight where it's needed.

Fortunately DD only rarely needs it and it seems to do the trick with a teapspoonful. She also uses a preventative inhaler. Good luck lonelymum, I was really panicked when I heard my dd had asthma (diagnosed at 7 yrs but had been wheezy with a cold for years) but now I'm a more relaxed. Just reread... I don't mean she had a cold for years!!!

Lonelymum Thu 14-Apr-05 12:50:37

Did you find that you, or your child, with asthma caught colds more than other children? I have always been aware that ds2 was more susceptible to colds than say his older brother. I wonder if it is connected? Does anyone know?

Am busy going through the guilt phase right now. Of all my 4 children, ds2 was the one I breastfed the least: only did it for 6 months and he always had top-ups of formula milk from birth. They say b/f can lessen the chances of getting asthma: perhaps I didn't do him justice there.

GeorginaA Thu 14-Apr-05 13:19:41

Hard to say, Lonelymum. I think young children get tons more colds (as their immune system is just starting out) than we do anyway and it's really hard to compare. Ds1 used to be particularly susceptible to chest infections (which is why we thought he might be asthmatic at one point and he was prescribed ventolin for a while) but appears to have grown out of that. I don't remember being a particularly sickly child - however the difference may be that when I did get a cold it dragged on longer than my peers. Even now at the first sign of a cold I up my Becotide dose (agreed with my asthma nurse) to reduce the chance of asthma symptoms at the tail end.

I do think though that you have to approach it from another angle re: the guilt. Given that your ds has asthma - isn't it fantastic that you gave him 6 months of breastmilk! His asthma may well have been more severe without that, so well done you!

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