The Twinadoes suffer from allergy and illness related asthma. They don’t have problems when they exercise or run around like nut cases (which they do quite often) but get them near a cat, give them a nut, or have them catch a little cold and bingo – we have asthma. It is one of the legacies they carry from being born before they were ready.
Mostly it is more annoying than anything else, but it has sent us to the hospital emergency department quite a few times, and last year it put Zoe in hospital for four days and broke Izzy’s heart. It also keeps them from doing the things they enjoy, like going to kinder and ballet.
Prevention is better than a cure – especially in this case since there is no cure. We do pretty well preventing the allergy side of the equation, but with illness, it’s hard to prevent something when we can’t predict when it will happen. We can go months without any problems and usually do over the warmer months, but in winter I am on the look out for any sniffles and I have my ears pricked for the slightest cough, wondering when it will strike.
In the past we’ve managed the symptoms as best we can with ventolin and the evil, but effective predmix. When they don’t work we trek into the hospital for monitoring and oxygen. This regime works most of the time, but it’s not much fun and rather stressful for all of us.
Ah yes, we love winter and last year was a doozey in this house. I was bracing myself this year for more of the same and early on it looked like it would totally live up to my expectations. Then we had an unrelated visit into the Royal Children’s Hospital and found ourselves speaking to someone who was trailing a newish asthma preventer medication on people with the same kind of asthma that we battle with – ie not exercise related. The drug is called Singulair and is usually used as a non-steroid based asthma preventer med for moderate asthmatics as well as for allergy sufferers.
In the past we’d refused preventer meds for the girls because they were all steroid based with not so nice side effects and we didn’t think it was worth it for the 5 or so times a year they had chronic asthma. Singulair isn’t a steroid, and while it is not without side effects, from our discussions at RCH and my own readings I felt a lot better about trying this than anything else that had been suggested, plus it is effective for allergies too which is a plus for us. But, no one was sure that it would be very effective for illness induced asthma, RCH were trialing the drug on people with similar symptoms as our girls but as yet there were no concrete results that it helped reduce the incidence of asthma attacks due to illness. Initially we decided not to go ahead. I wanted to see how they went before trying something that we weren’t sure would work anyway. It wasn’t until they missed days and days of kinder right at the start of winter, just when they were finally beginning to make friends and get invited to birthday parties, that we decided it might be worth a go.
So they’ve taken it for three months – mid June to mid September. Right before they started on the drug they had a nasty cold that required several days of ventolin and predmix. Since they have been taking it they have had quite a few coughs and colds, have on occasion required ventolin to settle a night time cough so they could sleep but they have not required constant ventolin nor predmix. In what is usually the worst time of the year for us and asthma they have been relatively well.
As far as side effects go, we’ve not experienced any of those that they say might happen. Early on Zoe did suddenly start waking in the night, crying and saying wild things (not quite a night terror but similar – if she’d have had a temperature I’d have said she was delirious) and I wondered if it might have been a side effect to the drug, but just as we were about to take her off it she stopped doing it…. so now I am not so sure if it was related or not.
The girls LOVE taking the tablets after dinner each night. They say they taste like cherries and are delicious but both of them take any and all medication readily and often get rather miffed if one gets to have medicine and not the other… so I don’t think they are a reliable indicator of how easy it would be to get other kids to take this stuff. So really the only downside for us is that it’s not cheap – but then medication never is.
All in all I think Singulair has worked for us. I’d still rather they didn’t have to take any kind of medication, but the fact that we could replace recurrent rounds of nasty steroids and loads and loads of ventolin with this drug seems like a better deal, not to mention the fact that they have been well, they’ve stayed away from hospitals and doctors and not missed out on doing the things they want to do. We’ve finished our three month trial now so I will be watching to see if the girls get a ‘spring cold’ and how bad it might become, and also watching to see how their hay fever is this year as we can also use Singulair as an ongoing allergy preventer if we needed to.
Ah.. um.. oops… this quick little post so that I could remember when we stopped taking the drug and record how it went turned into a long and boring asthma post… oh well… too bad….if you have asthma or have kids with asthma you might have found it interesting.. for the rest of you.. wake up now, I’m done, you can move on to the next blog!