Juvenile asthma image

Lynn is the 32-year-old mother of Josh, who is 12 and has asthma. Josh has two other brothers at home, the younger of which has Tourette syndrome. Lynn, a stay-at-home mom, has her hands full with her three boys.

What was your first sign that something was wrong? What symptoms did your son experience?

Josh had a lot of respiratory problems early in life, such as pneumonia at four months, and bronchitis caused by RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) at two years. But, it wasn't until he was four years old that he was diagnosed with asthma.

The first symptom of the asthma at age four was a very bad cough. One day, I thought that he was coming down with the flu, but his cough got progressively worse. Cough medicine and cough drops were not working, and he was starting to lose his color. I called the doctor, and we went in for an appointment early the next day.

What was the diagnosis experience like?

When we arrived at the pediatrician's office, she knew immediately that it was an asthma attack, and started him on medication, which he breathed through a nebulizer.

After years of Josh's asthma getting increasingly worse, I felt very frustrated and made an appointment to see a specialist.

Josh has just recently been diagnosed with Job's syndrome (a very rare immune deficiency), and asthma is a complication of that disease. Had our pediatrician referred us to a specialist earlier in his treatment, we might have found this out before now. Now he has so much lung damage that I fear he will never get better. But who knows? With Josh's positive attitude and his love of life, he might just surprise us all.

What was the initial and then longer-term reaction to the diagnosis?

When he was first diagnosed with asthma, he was, of course, too young to understand. Now, he now knows the seriousness of his asthma. He is a very positive boy; it doesn't seem to bother him much at all.

How do you manage asthma?

First of all, he never says, "I can't." He participates in everything, from football to—also manages to keep an A average in school.

He takes lots of different medications every day of his life. A typical day would include:

  • Advair 500/50
  • Nasonex, 3 times/day
  • Zyrtec and Claritin-D, each once a day

We switch back and forth from 500 mg of Biaxin 2 times a day. When that is all gone he takes 750 mg of Cipro once a day. He is usually on an antibiotic, and has allergy shots once a week. He carries his "rescue" medication (Albuterol) with him at all times. He also sees a pulmonologist twice a month.

Did you have to make any lifestyle or dietary changes in response to asthma?

Not really. He knows his limits, and he knows that during allergy season he has to be careful about being outside and must always carry his Albuterol with him.

Did you seek any type of emotional support?

No, but the school counselor visits with him every now and then just to check up. He is very happy and well adjusted.

Does asthma have any impact on your family?

We have all learned to deal with it, and it really doesn't affect us much.

What advice would you give to anyone living with asthma?

I would advise that you see your doctor regularly. Asthma is very unpredictable, but with proper asthma management, I feel we have it under control.