Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Asthma in Children and the Fear of Pulmicort

New Question - Just In:

HELP!!!!! My son is 7, was dx w/ asthma this past winter after a lifetime of treating what different ped's "thought" were simply nasal infections with antibiotics. We have recently went from zyrtec, to oral steroids, now on to pulmicort, albuterol and Singulair. I am VERY afraid as my son is already a sensitive and emotional boy. It sounds like the pulmicort is simply a BAD med??? Does anyone have any homeopathic advice on treating asthma? My mom is permanently disabled from medications that were not properly tested and monitored...I am in search of help, not more hurt!!! - Tammy


Tammy, I'm *not* a doctor, but I have a few insights I can share from experience:

First of all, many of us who have used Pulmicort and Flovent (same med essentially, delivered differently) have found that Flovent may tend to have less "roid rage"-type side effects.

Personally - and I do have sensitive boys - I haven't seen any negative behavioral effects from the steroids. (At least not that I remember!) Certainly albuterol has them bouncing off the walls, but I give Xopenex as often as I can to aovid that.

I can tell you that it works - WELL. For children with asthma acute enough to require daily inhaled steroids, there aren't many alternatives. None of us likes the fact that our kids are taking steroids every day, but it certainly beats the alternative of not being able to breathe!!

The best recommendation I can give you, though, is SEE A SPECIALIST. If you've read this blog at all, you'll know that I love my pediatricians. But when it comes to asthma-related issues, I call the pulmonologist first, then make a courtesy call to the regular peds to keep them in the loop. Pediatric pulmonologists know more about asthma than general pediatricians do, and understand the subtleties, the latest meds, and so much more than any other doctor.

If there are no pediatric pulmos in your area, look for an allergy and asthma specialist.

On the holistic side, I know many parents who have seen benefit from taking their kids off dairy. Others have seen a lot of success with sinus washes (now sold as "netti pots" at your local CVS) particularly if their kids' asthma is typically triggered by upper respiratory infections.

Again, I'm not a doctor or medical professional of any kind, but this is my best mom-to-mom advice.

I would also refer you to the Asthma-Parents group on Yahoo, which has been a great resource for me over the years. Two other sites:

Hope this is helpful. Best of luck, Tammy!

11 comments:

Eleanor said...

Dear Tammy and Aimee,

My daughter, who is also 7, has used Pulmicort about 4 weeks a year for the past few years and she has not experienced any severe short term side effects. I am concerned, however about the long term side effects of Pulmicort. I too am looking for an alternative and I'd like to reach out to others to share information.

It sounds like your son's asthma is triggered by nasal infections. My daugher has seasonal sinus problems and the mucus causes upper respiratory problems which triggers her reactive air syndrome. I have had much success treating the sinus issue with the Grossan Nasal Irrigator and the sinus solution called Breath-ease. You can buy both items on-line and I believe Amazon sells it. The saline includes Xylitol and it's VERY gentle. If you decide to get it, let me know and I'll give you details about how to keep it clean etc.

But once the cough set in, then my daugher is often on the nebulizer for at least a week at a time. I'd like to avoid this by finding a proven natural remedy. I just found this link that may be useful: http://www.bomamed.com/ginseng-reverses-lung-damage-asthma

I live in Los Angeles and will be searching this area for practitioners who have a record in successfully treating asthma/reactive air syndrome. I'm happy to share whatever leads I find and I would appreciate others doing the same. Thanks. Eleanor

Aimee said...

Thanks, Eleanor.

I do think think the best way to treat asthma naturally is at the preventative stage - as in Eleanor's example: If your child's asthma is triggered by upper respiratory infections, do sinus washes to prevent those infections from spreading.

But while I do 100% believe in holistic medicine (hey, my best friend's a chiropractor!), I do caution you to work closely with your doctor, and inform her of EVERYTHING you're trying. For some of our kids, corticosteroids are the only remedy that works, and taking the child of the steroids can have catastrophic effects - especially at this volatile time of year.

So, by all means, try the herbal stuff, try chiropractic adjustments, spray water up your kids' noses to your heart's content, do that crazy buteyko breathing - just keep your doc in the loop every step of the way, and don't STOP any meds unless you have her blessing.

Eleanor, thanks for sharing. I will check out that article about ginseng.

Eleanor said...

I totally agree that we shouldn't throw out the inhalants! But I'm interested in seeing whether there are ways we can build strength in the lungs as an adjunct treatment to the steroids.

I'm also leery about going to alternative practitioners who don't have both the credentials as well as a record of success in treating kids with reactive air/asthma. (In LA, there are many washed up actors who are now trying to make a living as "alternative" practitioners!)

I have found a few interesting leads, though. There is recent study by Mount Sinai Hospital in NY and a Chinese Hospital that compared the efficacy of a combination of herbs to steroids. The link is http://www.acupuncture.com/newsletters/m_aug07/chinese_herbal_asthma.htm

Also I found a very thorough article by Dr. Chen on treating kids who have asthma with specific Chinese herbs. The link is http://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Treatment+of+Asthma+with+Herbs+and+Acupuncture

This guy has been working in this field for almost three decades and is a professor at University of Southern California. I'm going to contact Dr. Chen to see who he would recommend. If you're interested, I'll keep you posted.
Eleanor

Eleanor said...

I totally agree that we shouldn't throw out the inhalants! But I'm interested in seeing whether there are ways we can build strength in the lungs as an adjunct treatment to the steroids.

I'm also leery about going to alternative practitioners who don't have both the credentials as well as a record of success in treating kids with reactive air/asthma. (In LA, there are many washed up actors who are now trying to make a living as "alternative" practitioners!)

I have found a few interesting leads, though. There is recent study by Mount Sinai Hospital in NY and a Chinese Hospital that compared the efficacy of a combination of herbs to steroids. The link is http://www.acupuncture.com/newsletters/m_aug07/chinese_herbal_asthma.htm

Also I found a very thorough article by Dr. Chen on treating kids who have asthma with specific Chinese herbs. The link is http://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Treatment+of+Asthma+with+Herbs+and+Acupuncture

This guy has been working in this field for almost three decades and is a professor at University of Southern California. I'm going to contact Dr. Chen to see who he would recommend. If you're interested, I'll keep you posted.
Eleanor

Aimee said...

Thanks, Eleanor.! I really appreciate your valuable feedback and hope you'll continue to contribute! I will check out that info by Dr. Chen.

Meanwhile, my chiropractor friend has just received her pediatric certification and swears she can help manage my kids' asthma. I'm a big believer in chiro, but skeptical about using it to treat pediatric asthma. Maybe I'll invite her to do a guest post in its defense. Or at least forward links to articles we can review regarding successes there.

Eleanor said...

Hello Aimee --

Just wanted to follow up to let you know that I did contact Dr. Chen and he recommended a Chinese Herbalist/Acupuncturist here in Los Angeles. The one he recommended was booked until mid-February but I had my daughter see one of his associates last week. Her name is Gila Varis and she is a nurse and Chinese Herbalist/Acupuncturist. She spent about an hour and a half with my daughter and recommended that she refrain from both sugar and dairy at least until the virus and congestion clears up. She then put together a combination of Chinese herbs for my daughter. Her "methodology" for determining what herbs to use seemed strange and very unlike traditional medicine. But I decided not to judge it without trying it first. Sophie took the herbs and after 2 doses, her sinus and cough problems cleared up. She also stopped eating dairy for about 4 days and had very little sugar. She began eating some more dairy and sugar today and she needed to blow her nose. So perhaps she is allergic or has a reaction to dairy and/or sugar.

In any case, Sophie has not needed the Pulmicort or nasal steroid nose spray. I'm keeping them on-hand but I'm going to continue the herbs for now. I don't think I will have any solid information on their efficacy until after the winter season. If my daughter goes without needing the Pulmicort during this winter, then I think it's safe to say that the herbs are working.

As an aside, in an attempt to convince my daughter to eat the herbs, I mixed it with apple sauce and agave nectar (which is a sweetener). I took a few teaspoons to show her that it was "edible," and I noticed that even my sinuses were clearing and my ears were draining about a half hour after taking it. It was pretty interesting because I definitely felt my sinus/ear passages opening up.

I'll check back in a few months to let you know how my daugther is doing. Take care, Eleanor

Aimee said...

Interesting! Do you know what the herbs were?

Hope they work for her throughout the winter.

We have to go to the pulmo soon, so I'll let you know what our winter action plan looks like!

Eleanor said...

She used many different herbs tailored specifically to my daughter's condition. I asked my accupunturist if you could contact her directly and she said yes. Her name is Gila Varis and you can reach her at gilabvaris@hotmail.com. Eleanor

sara said...

Just a thought.....My 1YO has soy, dairy & gluten sensitivities. Whenever he has any gluten he ends up with a "cold"--congested with a cough. I would highly suggest that any asthmatic be tested for food sensitivities/allergies to see if removing these foods from their diet will help alieviate the symptoms. Keep in mind, many pediatricians may not agree, and you will probably have to make a special request for these tests. I had to go through my chiropractor to find a lab that would actually run the test. I have kept my pediatrician informed, but this is all done on my own accord, and she just notes what I tell her in his chart.--Hopefully she's learning too--I really like her and feel confident in her, I just think that the whole realm of food allergy/senitivity/chronic illness connection is not very recognized yet. Insurance did NOT cover the tests. This may or may not make a difference in every asthmatic's life, but I do believe it is worth looking in to. I think it WILL help some, based on what I've seen in my son. I'm still trying to figure out his triggers, and hoping that diet will be my best defense.

Eleanor said...

Sara,

I think diet plays a much larger role in allergies/asthma than most doctors acknowledge. I have limited dairy and sugar with my daughter and she hasn't needed any inhalants at all this winter. I hope that her progress continues through the spring. A helpful book for me is by Dr. Joel Fuhrman called "Disease Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right." It really gets you thinking about the relationship between nutritious food and good health. Eleanor

Eleanor said...

Sara,

I think diet plays a much larger role in allergies/asthma than most doctors acknowledge. I have limited dairy and sugar with my daughter and she hasn't needed any inhalants at all this winter. I hope that her progress continues through the spring. A helpful book for me is by Dr. Joel Fuhrman called "Disease Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right." It really gets you thinking about the relationship between nutritious food and good health. Eleanor