Disclaimer: I am not a physician. These are my family’s personal remedies. Consult with your doctor if any of these methods sound like they might work for you. This post contains affiliate links.
Asthma has been a very common thing in my family.
I had it as a child; thankfully I grew out of it as I got older. My poor husband wasn’t as fortunate. Neither are my two kids.
They’ve both got it, and they’ve got it bad.
What is Asthma?
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, asthma is a chronic disease involving the airways in the lungs. These airways, or bronchial tubes, allow air to come in and out of the lungs.
If you have asthma your airways are always inflamed. They become even more swollen and the muscles around the airways can tighten when something triggers your symptoms. This makes it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and/or chest tightness.
I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound very pleasant. And it can be extremely difficult to communicate these symptoms as a child.
Our Asthma Story Part 1
We’ve had our fair share of hospital stays.
Pinky’s visits started her first winter at 11 months old. I was hoping it was s phase, but it wasn’t. For the last 5 years we’ve spent a lot of time in the ER either on or before Thanksgiving and Christmas…and sometimes in between.
In the spring of 2014 my daughter had her first real asthma attack and it scared the crap out of me. She could hardly breathe and I could see her ribs when she inhaled as her tiny body worked overtime to pass air through her little lungs.
After days of breathing treatments and medication I saw a side of her no parent wants to see. It was almost like she had been possessed or bitten by a wild animal.
Later I found out she was experiencing roid rage. It is a real thing, people.
We stayed in the hospital for about a week that time.
It broke my heart to see my girl wear an oxygen tank only to walk 5 steps to the bathroom. I had to tell her that everything was going to be okay, that the nurses were poking her arm for good reason, all while she looked at me crying, probably…no, for sure wondering why in the world I was letting these strangers hurt her.
It was hell I tell you.
Don’t get me wrong, I was thankful for the doctors, techs and nurses. It puts you at ease to know you’re in good hands, but you still just wish you were never there in the first place.
I prayed…hard. Finally, she was cleared to go home. Here she is so happy that she’d be release from quarantine, literally. Photo credit by Auntie Babe!
A few weeks later, the little man, 8 months at the time had his first stay at Rady Children’s Hospital. It was only for a few days, but it was tough nonetheless. We slept in a big caged crib.
Yes, you heard right, WE! I wasn’t letting my baby sleep in that thing by himself. The kids were sad to be apart from me and each other. The first photo is when they were able to visit with each other when it was the little man’s turn to stay at the hospital. He was so weak when we brought him in, but came out like a little champ.
These visits went on throughout the year and eventually became less and less.
Finally, it was suggested we use a daily preventative steroid to make sure they didn’t come back for another extended stay.
I hated the thought of pumping steroids into my little babies, so I declined and opted to monitor them more closely and give them their inhalers as needed. I mean by now I was an expert at reading their body and pain cues, right?
In February 2015, we had no choice but to bring them back. We were devastated. Which is why I don’t have many photos to share with you this time.
I spent the entire month, and my birthday, in the hospital with both kids. It was all a blur. They each spent about 2 weeks there back to back. It was the hardest thing my husband and I had to go through as parents.
This time everything was 10 times worse. When it rains it pours. Not only was it a busy month for us personally, I was planning a big event, my husband on track to start his master’s program. We were also in the middle of unexpected repairs on our condo; and living out of a hotel. Those things didn’t matter so much but it did make things a lot more challenging.
I kept telling myself this isn’t that bad, it’s just asthma, but it was. Kids with asthma become high risk when they catch viruses like the flu, even the common cold or bronchitis.
We prayed so hard. Pinky had a difficult time, but this time the little man was worse off. He was tiny but his strength and stubbornness was no match for the nurses. He gained nicknames like the lion and the strength of 10 men. There was no way they were poking him.
I laugh now, but it was so hard to have to hold him down, to watch and hear him scream so loud. I cringe just thinking about it.
Our Family’s Asthma Arsenal
Young Living Rainstone Diffuser. In my effort to find alternatives to the steroid based inhalers I started to learn about the power of essential oils. Last year I became a member of Young Living and began diffusing oils help with the air quality at home. I chose this model because it has a negative ionizer. According to Negativeionizers.net, “Negative ions clear the air of mold spores, pollen, pet dander, odors, cigarette smoke, bacteria, viruses, dust and other hazardous airborne particles.” These are all triggers for my asthmatic family.
Young Living’s RC Essential Oil Roller with grape seed carrier. My favorite Young Living Essential Oil is RC. It’s a powerful blend of Spruce, Cyprus, and three types of Eucalyptus oils (E. globulus, E. radiata, and E. citriodora). These are all great for respiratory issues and opening up the lungs. I put a few drops of RC into a roller and add grapeseed oil as the carrier. This has seriously been a life saver for us. My kids love it so much that they pull down their shirts and lift their heads up so I can rub it on their chest. I keep a roller in my purse and whenever they start coughing or I know we’re headed to a place that might trigger their symptoms I roll it on their chest a few times – about once every 15 minutes for an hour.
Now for the next couple items, they aren’t as willing to cooperate.
Preventative and As Needed Inhalers. At first I was so against giving my babies steroid inhalers. I still don’t really like to do it, but if I’m being honest, they have helped in preventing attacks from escalating and also with maintenance. Both of my kiddos take a daily preventative inhaler and an Albuterol inhaler as needed. The good thing about using the inhaler is I can gauge how serious the problem is. If we find that the kids need to take a puff every two hours we know we are nearing a hospital visit, at least a doctor visit. We have an ashtma plan that we refer to when the situation does get worse. The spacer helps in getting all the medication in. It’s not very comfortable, but my kids know when they need it. They just aren’t as willing to cooperate.
I like to use the inhalers because they offer a quick fix if you will and it’s easy to travel with. I keep one at school and at grandma’s house just in case.
Nebulizer. We’ve had this trysty nebulizer since Pinky was a baby…almost 7 years now. Thank goodness our insurance fully covered the machine because it cost a pretty penny. I tried to request an air purifier but no dice! Anyway, we use this at home often, especially for the little man. It’s takes a lot of work and time to administer the medication this way, but it’s better for him. It’s also a lot more affordable than the inhalers, the vials don’t cost as much and they provide a good supply. This is not the easier piece of equipment to travel with, but we do take it when we go on family trips or have to stay in a hotel just to be safe.
Dr. Bronner’s Multipurpose Eucalyptus Soap. Another alternative to medicine similar to essential oils is Dr. Bronner’s awesome smelling Eucalyptus soap. Eucalyptus is a natural remedy for respiratory complaints. Just be sure you always do your research when administering any kind of natural remedy, as you would any medication.
I usually get a warm bath running and put a few squirts of the soap in. The smell radiates and as the kids inhale it, it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s nice to keep around for hand soap as well. I love how a little goes a long way. An added bonus is that all Dr. Bronner’s products are fair trade certified and organic. They’re business principles are all focused on relationships and treating the earth and others right. The love is contagious.
Motrin and Over-the-Counter Allergy Medications. Again, medication is usually my last resort, but I know when my kids need it. Motrin usually helps them to calm down and allows their little bodies to rest. Allergy medications may help alleviate some swelling and constant sneezing or coughing. Just be careful with how much you give. Always follow doctors orders and the instructions on the box. It’s easy to access and if we ever need some we can always stop by the nearest drug store and pick some up. These will at least help comfort the kids until the get their prescribed meds or see a doctor.
There you have it. These are the things we keep on us at all times.
Does your family suffer from asthma? How do you stay healthy and sane? We’d love to hear your remedies and stories! Please share in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.