My daughter was diagnosed with asthma when she was 3 years old. It has never been serious and only seems to flare up when she gets sick. She has only had one real asthma "attack" in which she felt she couldn't breathe and we had to give her the albuterol rescue inhaler. The other times have just been nonstop coughs and wheezing.
The doctors keep telling us she should outgrow it, but every time we think we're done with her asthma she gets another cough that brings that dreaded inhaler back into our lives. But I read an article recently that gave me some hope.
I'll tell you about the article in a moment, but first it's time for a quick lesson in asthma management: Right now, she's on two puffs of Flovent every day. Flovent is a corticosteroid that keeps her airways from becoming inflamed. Flovent is supposed to prevent asthma attacks and reduce the need for albuterol, which is a bronchodilator that relaxes the muscles in the lungs. Albuterol overuse has been linked to an increase in asthma-related deaths, so I try to avoid it as much as possible.
As for the Flovent, it seems to help keep her airways clear. She doesn't cough or wheeze anymore, and I don't have to panic whenever she gets a cold. But the persistent nag is always in the back of my mind: My child is taking steroids. Is this really necessary? Whenever I clean her inhaler, I imagine how the white chalky residue that builds up around the base of the inhaler is also building up in her lungs. Corticosteroids may also stunt a child's growth slightly. My kids are short to begin with, so an inch or two really matters! What's more, she tends to get lots of rashes and skin problems. Is this related to the suppression of her immune system from the steroids?
I'm an all-natural kind of mom. How can I justify any long-term, heavy-duty medication for my kids??
Samantha has her 9-year checkup at the doctor tomorrow. I plan to ask him if the Flovent is really necessary on a long-term basis. The article I mentioned, "Alternative Way to Treat Childhood Asthma," suggests that we could save the Flovent for actual attacks instead of giving it to her every day. I would definitely feel more comfortable with this. In addition, I am giving her nutritional supplements that are supposed to boost her immune system and hopefully help her body take care of itself.
It's a tricky issue because we're talking about a potentially life-threatening condition. But her asthma just doesn't seem serious enough to need medication every single day. Let me know if you've had any experience with taking a child off Flovent and using alternative methods. I'd be interested to hear what other moms in similar situations have done.