Why Bother With an Inhaler if You’ve Got Cough Drops?

Here’s an enlightening conversation I had with my daughter last night:

AG: Mom, my teacher said to send in more cough drops.
Me: Okay.
Me: Wait. . . . what?
AG: I’m running out of cough drops at school. I need more.
Me: But I sent those in, like, three weeks ago when you had a cold. Are you still using them?
AG: Um. Yeah.
Me: So, what? You’ve been coughing in school for the last three weeks?
AG: Well, not all the time.

“Oh,” I wanted to say. “Well good thing it’s not all the time or anything, because that would mean your lungs are still freaking out from that cold. Only, hello? Coughing off and on all day for three weeks also means your lungs are still freaking out from that cold.”

I restrained myself, however.

And hey – mystery solved.

I’ve been a little worried that AG’s still having mini coughing fits (read: asthma flares) at night and in the mornings despite her daily maintenance and quick-relief meds and three weeks out from her last cold. And stumped at the same time by her trouble-free breathing despite the coughing. Now it all makes sense because she’s apparently been using cough drops and not her inhaler at school.

So we sat down and had another reinforcement lesson in my perpetual attempt to keep her lung-aware. Because one day she’s going to face this stuff her own, and that thought is almost as terrifying as her teenagerhood, dating, and driver’s license all by themselves, even without the chronic breathing issue.

Not every parent gives cough drops to their asthma kids since the menthol ones can actually trigger sensitive people, and suppressing a cough in young children can be dangerous if that’s their main symptom. Because little kids an’t articulate for themselves whether they’re having trouble breathing, of course.

My kid starting using cough drops occasionally as she got older and better able to express herself because menthol doesn’t trigger her flares. Also, when coughing is your kid’s main symptom, sometimes you (read: I) just need some damn sleep. AG only uses cough drops under these guidelines, though:

1. If she’s already used her quick-relief inhaler
2. If she’s experiencing no tightness in her chest or trouble breathing
3. If her peak flow number is okay
4. If her throat is bothering her rather than her lungs

In theory, at least. This little misunderstanding wrapped up Helping My Daughter Understand the Complexities of Her Asthma Treatment: Round. . . . 5? 35? 50? I’ve lost count.

‘Til next time.