Family Health Guide

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Asthma: Parent's & Child's Experiences

Parenting a child with asthma can be a scary experience, but many parents find relief when medications and other strategies bring asthma under control.

“We’ve adjusted pretty well,” says Julie Stoll, 35, a Normal, IL, social worker and mother of Nicholas, 5, who has asthma. Nicholas was diagnosed at age two after suffering from repeated respiratory infections beginning at six months. The biggest difficulty, Stoll says, is toting the nebulizer everywhere they go, especially on trips. “But now we have it under control enough that we can go places and just bring his rescue inhaler.”

“Keep working with your doctor,” Stoll advises. “We haven’t needed to go to a specialist because our doctor is proactive and works with us. We also do our own research and ask about other options.”

Monica Fyfe, 27, an Indianapolis, IN, homemaker, recalls that her son began having breathing issues at 8 months, but it took a year and two trips to the emergency room – one with an admission to the hospital - before doctors were willing to diagnose him with asthma. “Now he is on preventive medicine everyday,” she says of Jace, 2, including Flovent and Albuterol. A new pediatrician has also ordered allergy tests for Jace. Fyfe has created a color-coded asthma action plan to give to relatives when they watch him so they know when to give him medication and are prepared for possible emergencies.“He takes medicine in the morning and at night, and if he starts wheezing or having difficulty breathing he gets his nebulizer treatments. But asthma doesn’t prevent him from being active or running around with his sisters.”

Theresa Zoro, 38, of Brooklyn, NY, director of publicity at a publishing house, took asthma-proofing to a whole new level after her son Wyeth, 4, was diagnosed with asthma as a baby. “We moved!” says Zoro, whose daughter, Olive, 22 months, also has asthma. “We were living in an old building with exposed brick and we moved to a completely renovated apartment.” Her new home has fewer problems with dust and other environmental triggers. Like many asthmatic kids, Wyeth had a rough first few years in terms of respiratory infections. “He was on antibiotics every month for the first year, and at nine months they put him on Singulair and he got ear tubes,” says Zoro. She was so concerned about his breathing, she’d let him sleep in his car seat so his head was elevated, and would sleep on the floor beside him. Because Olive didn’t have the same traumatic first year as Wyeth, Zoro assumed she was out of the woods until at 16 months she developed a high fever and coughing and was rushed to the hospital with bilateral pneumonia. But now that both kids are using preventive medication, Zoro says she doesn’t let fear of asthma factor into their activities. “Asthma is really misunderstood. It’s not like they can’t do normal things.”