Advice about Asthma

Archived Q&A and Reviews

From: Cliff (9/98)

I wanted to let the group know about an organization called the Food Allergy Network(FAN).FAN is dedicated to bringing about a clearer understanding of the issues surrounding food allergies. My son has allergies and this group has been my primary source of accurate information regarding food allergies. You can locate them on the web:

Asthma in children

Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 09:26:29 -0800 (PST)

My son was just diagnosed with Restrictive Airway Disorder, our doctor says that it can be a precursor to Asthma. We started giving him a liquid medicine last night called Abuterol, it makes him really hyper, and makes me a little worried. Do any of you have any experience with this disorder? I am told it is quite common in children, your advice would be appreciated.

Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 14:35:45 -0800

re asthma: I have one child who was diagnosed with asthma at age 6, so I'm familiar with all the meds, including albuterol elixir. The bronchodilators do make you hyper, especially those that are taken by liquid or pill, rather than inhaled directly into the lungs. Are you seeing an allergist/asthma specialist? It made a big difference to us to have the management of Benjamin's asthma turned over from the pediatrician to a specialist. There's going to be a big event about asthma in SF (at the Moscone Convention Ctr.?) on Saturday, Feb. 22, with lots of seminars about respiratory matters. I don't remember that there was much of an entrance fee.

Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 15:38:38 -0700

Something on which I've spent way too much time as a parent! Not only only do I have two (of three) kids with this diagnosis, one of them is in the SPIRITED category (remember that discussion?). Liquid albuterol definitely not the thing for these kids.

My youngest sons first few years were exhausting: colds often became pneumonia, coughing kept the whole family up, he was so uncooperative about taking liquid medicines that even the nurse at the doctor's office admitted defeat. None of this was ever life threatening as I know asthma can be. We never ended up in the emergency room (though the Pediatric Advice Nurse at Kaiser and I developed a personal phone relationship) and we spent hours and hours and hours in urgent care.

I was always uncomfortable with the liquid albuterol, although I did not unconditionally say no to all drugs. I also tried lots of low tech stuff: steamy bathrooms, lots of water to drink, etc. In desperation I would sometimes start a course of albuterol, but things would deteriorate so rapidly (my son would be wild beyond imagining) that I would stop after only a few doses. I began to prefer the disease to the cure. One Kaiser doctor finally recommended that my son begin taking a sodium cromolyn (brand name Intal) inhaler. (You take this before you have a flare-up.) I truly felt this was a miracle drug. The first winter he took it, he didn't get pneumonia and he had only a couple of uncomfortable days and nights coughing. He liked inhaling (!) MUCH better than the sticky, sweet liquid medicines. It's been about four years: we've done different types and combinations of the inhaled medicines. We monitor peak flow. (Measures breathing difficulty and is very helpful in figuring out when to begin treating. I think using the meter cuts down on the use of the drugs.) We also have a nebulizer (a kind compressor, it delivers the stuff more effectively. It's how they treat them when you bring them in to the doctor's office.)

There are some good books out there about this. I liked one called (I think) Your Child and Asthma. But Kaiser's handouts are pretty good, too. (They are short and to the point.) Everyone seems to focus on self management, teaching the kids to recognize symptoms, independence.

(My older daughter, also with asthma, carries her inhaler with her, goes on long backpacking trips and plays field hockey. Managing it is, mostly, her responsibility.)

Good Luck!

Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 15:51:30 -0800

My 4 1/2 year old son has chronic asthma. I have spent many sleepless nights giving him breathing treatments. Abuterol is the main drug given to children to deal with an asthma flair up. There are other drugs dispensed in inhalers that do not cause the hyperness. Hopefully this is only a single episode and is resolved quickly. If your child continues to have respiratory problems you should ask your pediatrician about Intol. Intol is a non-steroidal medicine that controls asthma and it works fairly well for a lot of children.

There are a lot of www sites that deal with asthma and local support groups. I could go on and on. If you need more information please contact me.


Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 16:30:02 -0800

My daughter has had asthma for several years now. Abuterol is probably the most common medication prescribed for swollen or restricted airways. It has two common side effects: jitteriness and stomach irritation. It's called a bronchodilator medication. I've seen it in three versions. The liquid I've used is put in a nebulizing machine that vaporizes it while the child breathes through a mask or tube. For a few years my daughter used it in capsule form through a little device called a rotohaler. The powder from the capsule is fanned into the airways as the child breathes in and out. Then there are inhalers that dispense puffs of medication that the child then breathes in. I haven't heard of any liquid version that is swallowed. If your son is getting hyper from it his dose may be too high. My daughter only gets the side effects if one dose (in her case about three puffs from an inhaler) doesn't stop her wheezing and she needs to take several more doses. They usually determine dose by body weight.

You might want to have your child allergy tested. If the problem is caused by allergies, such as dust mites, probably the most common, you may want to make some changes in your child's bedroom and your house. My daughter saw Dr. James Nicholsen in Oakland. She still remembers the tests as being fun and him as being very nice. If allergies are causing it, taking care of the causes may prevent it from developing into asthma. If it isn't related to allergies, I've been told that kids can outgrow it.

Finally, you might want to call The American Lung Association in Oakland for more information. They offer classes for adults and kids with breathing problems and they run a week long summer camp for kids with asthma that my daughter really enjoyed. It's very reasonably priced. Also, because she took a workshop through the Lung Association that was paid for by my health insurance, the day camp was free, though I think it only costs about $50.00 for the week anyway.

AS for the jitteriness, the doctor suggested tylenol and a warm bath for their calming effects.

Hope this helps.


Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 16:45:26 -0800

My name is Tri and yes I have had experience with the medication Abuterol. About 4 year ago my daughter who is now 7 was diagnosed with a mild case of asthma, and she was give the abuterol liquid and the abuterol inhaler. Yes it does make them hyper but it works, but I found that after a few dosages of the medication they sort of get used to it. I also find that my daughter is growing out of the wheezing or asthma as she is getting older. So don't worry, abuterol is a good medication.


Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 16:45:26 -0800

RE: Restricted Airways Disorder and asthma. My son had something similar when he was a child. He was put on albuterol as well as a few other medications. I would suggest that you read the web pages on the internet regarding this drug as well as contact the American Lung Association and the Jewish Asthma Foundation (I believe that is the correct name). My child stayed on those drugs through elementary school and I am convinced that he had permanent hyper behavior as a result. However, he was taking albuterol and the other drugs daily. You did not say how old your child was or whether he is taking the medication daily. I think that it is important that you ensure that this medication regimen is the best for your child. By the way, my experience with the public school system while he was taking the medications daily was unsympathetic.


Date: Wed, 29 Jan 1997 12:43:27 -0700

To folks with kids with asthma: my daughter (18 months) showed some early signs of asthma, which has been a real problem for her older sister (age 5). At first I tried abuterol. I was not comfortable with this as a long-term plan. The second time I took her to the M.D. we see who is also a homeopath. That worked quite well. Children often respond well to homeopathy (better than adults, often). Homeopathy prompts the body to heal itself, rather than just managing symptoms (which of course can be extremely valuable. I have asthma myself and have found managing symptoms essential to be able to work, parent, etc.)

I would agree strongly with the parents who indicated that seeing a specialist made a big difference in their ability to manage their child's asthma. There is no one-size-fits-all advice for asthma or anything else but if you doubt that your pediatrician is adequately handling your child's asthma, the medications involved, or your own anxiety related to the condition, press forward and find a specialist. Trust yourself.

I concur, too with the parent who recommended Dr. James Nickelsen (allergy, immunology & chronic respiratory diseases - 2320 Woolsey Street - 644-2316). I cannot say enough about his experience, intuition, and dedication to patients.

We also see Dr. Roger Morrison at the Hahnemahn Clinic, an M.D. and a homeopathic practicioner (and former asthma-sufferer).

My son's asthma, which began when he was 2.5 yrs, was allergy-induced and very severe. Almost a year later, after months of twice-daily albuterol treatments via nebulizer, and two terrifying hospitalizations, we finally found Nickelsen. The American Lung Assn course (a Saturday morning in Oakland & free of charge) was also quite helpful. The only book I found worthwhile was Children With Asthma by Plaut.

The Bay Area and Asthma

November 1998

My asthma condition is triggered by allergies.

Yours could be to common household pollutants such as dust mites, mold, mildew, dust or pollen. If you live along a bus or truck route it could be diesel exhaust. Second hand smoke (of any sort) can be one of the worst.

You mention that this started when you moved here, but where is here? Allergy regions around the bay are quite different one from another. Perhaps you're even allergic to something in the sea breeze. Is it worse at home or at work? Are you getting allergy desensitization shots? Have you been seen by an allergy specialist?

Personnally, my allergies (and asthma) got much better when I moved to Berkeley, so much so that I was able to stop treatment. But my allergies were all to pollen and grass, so sea breezes really helped. When I moved to Hayward, the allergies returned.

To get to the point, a whole house electrostatic air cleaner, installed on the forced air furnace, makes all the difference in my health. If you're living in an apartment, try a couple of room units, but especially in the room your sleeping in. You don't want to stay on steroids forever. Roger

I had very similar problems when I moved here. In fact, it was so bad that I started thinking that I wasn't supposed to be able to breathe normally. Dr. Tittle at the UHS has been extremely helpful, you should try and see him. I have been on azmacort, prednisone, etc. I now am on two main medications, Flovent and Serevent. I am on Ventolin only as needed (which is rarely). I also don't have carpets, keep the windows open, and follow other preventive measures. I found that I am allergic to mold, so I pay attention to the mold spore count and take extra precaution when it is anything but low. I have not had an asthma attack in months.
I have found a particular breathing technique very, very helpful in managing my asthma and decreasing my medication. It is called Eucapnic Breathing and will be taught at the Alive and Well Massage school early 1999. I would be happy to explain it via phone so call if you are interested. wk # 642-1981. The massage school is based in San Rafael (or close by) so the area code for information is 415. I didn't experience the same worsening of asthma when I moved here...but I do get much more symptomatic in response to allergies acting up. Good luck! Karen
I have noticed that my own asthma is worse this year than in years past. I don't actually have attacks, but I wheeze and cough and I find that I'm using my albuterol a great deal, especially at night. I'm particularly affected by mold spores, and wonder if the long, wet winter last year just left more mold-friendly territory. I'm no longer convinced the azmacort is doing what I need, but don't want to take anything stronger. Does anyone have experience with acupuncture or other non-western-medicine approaches to dealing with this? Chris
Wash sheets and pillowcases with 1/4 cup eucalyptis oil in the wash. This kills dust mites which can be allergins (forgive my spelling). It helps us. Laura