Wake Up! My Child Has Asthma

You hear it on the news…asthma is on the rise. More and more people are diagnosed with asthma. Six million children have asthma. More than 22 million American have asthma. My son is now officially one of them.

So why do I say, “Wake up”? Well, my son has had a spotty history of asthmatic episodes. For whatever reason, LD’s asthma is getting worse and the attacks are coming more frequently. His first episode came at the age of two after a virus. Another episode after a parade and play at the playground at the age of four. Another at the age of six. Another a year ago. Another four months ago. One last Friday. Four of these landed him in the emergency room. Others (like the one a few days ago) required special treatment at the doctor’s office. Sometimes they are scary and I know he can’t breathe (you can hear him wheezing, he breathes fast, he seems lethargic), but other times I scratch my head wondering how difficult it is for him to breathe. In fact, I mostly have to rely on him to tell me if needs to see the doctor (if it’s difficult for him to breathe). If oxygen saturation levels go too low, it’s bad for your body (your organs, your heart etc.).

I wish we could cure it, but we can’t. Asthma is a chronic condition that probably will be around for life. We do have to come to terms with it and control as many triggers and factors as we can. We need to get LD tested for allergies and now he’ll need to take some medicine to prevent these asthma attacks.

What is as asthma or an asthma attack?

The problem with asthma, at least for LD, is that he often looks fine from the outside.  When I took him into the doctor on Friday he walked in fine. He coughed a few times, but until you asked him or really listened to his lungs you’d never know he was going through anything. None of his friends or his coaches noticed any difference in him.

When asthma sets in, the airways start to constrict and get smaller. Mucus in the airways start to build up and it makes it extremely difficult to breathe. Here’s a drawing so you know what I mean (but remember I’m just a Mom–this isn’t medical advice or anything)…You can see how much more mucus is in the airway and how much the bands constrict and tighten around the airways.

No wonder it was so hard for him to breathe!

What triggers asthma? The most common trigger (and the trigger for most of LD’s asthma attacks) is respiratory infections. Other things like pets,  smoke, cockroaches and mice, cold air or polluted air, dust mites, mold, pollen and cleaning solutions can trigger asthma symptoms in some kids/people as well as gas stoves, fireplaces and even some preservatives.

Can you catch asthma? Funny enough I’ve had to reassure LD that he’s not contagious. And with all his chesty, deep coughing I’ve also told him to tell others that he doesn’t have a contagious cold.

This has been a real learning experience for me/us. The problem that asthma symptoms are not there every day, but the asthma is and you still have to treat it. I’ve never had allergies and no one I know has had asthma (at least not that I knew about). Luckily, we have an amazing pediatrician and an asthma team with a specialized asthma nurse who have helped (and taught us) SO much!

LD is now on four different meds to get this latest asthma episode under control. He was pretty drained for a couple of days, but is slowly getting better. We’ll have to have him tested for allergies and try to figure out what triggers set him off. So as I said above, he’ll now be on a preventative, daily medicine to hopefully stave off these asthma episodes.

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