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Asthma: Personal stories

Will, age 9

Our son Will is 9 years old. He was diagnosed with asthma when he was 5 years old. Ear infections, colds, sinus problems, and upper respiratory problems were common. These problems were so common that the pediatrician would prescribe an antibiotic for him without an office visit.

When Will entered kindergarten, he complained about Physical Education class. I assumed this was because he wasn't used to going to school and running around. I thought he would get used to it eventually. About 2 months into the school year, his eyes were swollen and itched. The doctor said it looked like he rubbed his eyes with something he was allergic to. That same weekend, he woke up coughing, and his breath was shallow. We took him to the doctor, who put him on the nebulizer with albuterol immediately.

Since that time, it has been like finding a needle in a haystack when it came to getting all the information we needed. It seems like the doctors would rather label the problem anything except asthma.

Although Will rarely misses school now because of his asthma problems, he used to be absent frequently. I believe that if we had been given all of the information we needed from the beginning, he would not have been absent so often (and we would have had fewer sleepless nights). Now that we have more information and all of the necessary equipment to treat an asthma attack, I feel much more capable of handling Will's asthma problems.

Today Will had his worst asthma attack ever. The weather was cool and dry, and he was playing outside. He came in gasping for breath with his shoulders up, making an attempt to open his lungs. I gave him a breathing treatment of albuterol and cromolyn in the nebulizer. I also gave him a dose of Prelone syrup. I didn't panic like I have in the past, but he sure did.

Sometimes Will asks us, "Why was I born with asthma? And will I have it forever?" This is the hardest part of having a child with asthma that is exercise and allergy induced. All of the things he is allergic to are in the public school system (proven by skin test). We now use the Peak Flow Meter every day to check Will's lung capacity. When his asthma is on the rise, he is irritable and doesn't do well in school.

Will is taking Singulair, as well as using the albuterol and cromolyn in the nebulizer as needed. As far as we know, we have all the information we need to keep our son's asthma in control.

I wish that more information on asthma were available so that children could understand their condition.