Cough Variant Asthma

Archived Q&A and Reviews

5 year old's cough, variant asthma, nothing working

Sept 2011

Our 5 year old was in the hospital for 5 days earlier this year and has had trips to the ER for what doctors think is cough variant asthma. This is NOT the type of asthma controled by abuterol, and it is life threatening for him. The issue is that it is not under control: we have to resort to prednisone (liquid steroid) to keep him from the hospital once a month. It is a miracle drug that keeps him breathing but has very bad side effects. I could take this whole email to say how prednisone changes my son: he doesn't sleep, has tantrums, yells at us, etc. and how it impacts growth. His illness always follows same pattern: cold with runny nose for a few days, small cough, then wakes up at 2am with cough so bad it won't stop, he can't breathe well and abuterol makes no difference. IMagine how often kids (esp. in kindergarten) get sick with colds. I would love to talk to someone about this and/or get advice. Here is what we have tried: working with (Kaiser) pediatric pulmonologist, second opinion from an allergist (tested negative for all allergies), homeopathy, acupuncture/acutonics. He is on nasal steriod spray, singular, regular/non-stop doses of pulmicort (steriod maintenance inhaler), abuterol. We use a nebulizer. We take vitamins, probiotics, homeopathic remedies in addition. Nothing stops the train once he catches what appears to be a minor cold. We have talked about a bronchioscope and cat scan. We are going to try starting the abuterol at first sign of runny nose and doing something called combivent. Has anyone had unresolved asthma that required way too much prednisone to control? Please let me know your stories and hopefully successes.

I had this when I lived in Los Angeles, and the pulmonologist was the most important resource. I did get some relief from Advair, but I would always eventually get sick and end up on oral prednisone. The pulmonologist warned me that ''some people are just allergic to the plant life in Los Angeles,'' and that influenced my decision to move to the Bay Area. Where in Rockridge where the air quality is not great I have almost zero asthma. So I wonder if your son has been to an allergist, home tested for mold, etc. After three years cycling on and off prednisone I do have early cataract -- the eye dr. Had mostly seen it in athletes who had abused steroids. So add UCB eye clinic to your list of appointments. Good luck and I hope that your son's issues will lessen as mine have. Sarah

Well, seems like you have tried a lot of things, but you have not tried to clean up indoor air pollution. I suggest you get rid of all perfume, air fresheners, bleach, ammonia, etc. Not just stop using it, but get that stuff out of the house. Also, any new carpet in the house? The formaldehyde in that is toxic. An air cleaner at night might help. I like the 160R2: Also, make sure that his school has clean air rules: no perfume or air fresheners. It may seem like it is the cold that is causing the problem, but the airway irritation from toxic air may be the real culprit. anon

You've probably already addressed this but you might want to try and get your kid to a pediatric ENT. My kid went the full asthma route but it was only once the pediatric ENT looked in his ears and found huge adenoids (and surgically removed them and put in tubes for the fluid that had backed up because of the adenoids) that the asthma like symptoms went away. He got colds prior to this all the time that caused us to go down the road of asthma reactions and they had the source of the problem wrong. Just a thought for you. Specialists aren't always right. got rid of those stinking adenoids