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Child & Teen Health

3 things you might not know about childhood asthma

October 18, 2016

About the Author

photo of Claire McCarthy, MD

Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Claire McCarthy, MD, is a primary care pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. In addition to being a senior faculty editor for Harvard Health Publishing, Dr. McCarthy … See Full Bio
View all posts by Claire McCarthy, MD


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October 29, 2016

My grandson. Gets asthma without the wheeze and has been officially diagnosed with this condition yet still the ambulance officers and emergency dept. question my daughter when she says it is an asthma attack as they can’t hear a wheeze. His is virally induced and always follows if he gets a cold. He is now on a preventative medication but still carries his ventolin everywhere. He is 4 and has had this since 2 years old. He has gone from 12 trips in the ambulance in six months down to 2 in Six months.

October 19, 2016

My daughter’s asthma is triggered mainly by viruses. It took over a year to figure out why a simple cold would turn into pneumonia or an asthma attack. Very scary. Way too many trips to the emergency room and under dire circumstances. Colds would trigger asthma, which would cause her to breathe short rapid breaths through her mouth, which would dehydrate her, which caused her fever and heart rate to skyrocket. Total downward spiral that took only a day or so. The diagnosis along with an action plan and a medicine regiment including maintenance doses of corticosteroids and at times albuterol have helped us greatly. The corticosteroids do have side effects and we’ve tried several different types and dosages to try and balance the mood swings and effects vs her sustained health.

October 18, 2016

Glad you mentioned “seasonal” use of inhaled corticosteroids since the general rule that it must be daily and forever “even if you’re feeling well” doesn’t seem to be true and results in overmedicating both children and adults. While it’s true that these are “small” doses with “few” side effects, that’s really a comparison to oral steroids. Even lose dose inhaled steroids have a measurable systemic effect.

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