Tuesdays are Your Turn – Bronchodilators and Coughs
This is a long one from my email, but please take the time to read the whole thing. It raises lots of questions that many other parents of young asthma kids have (I had them.):
If my asthmatic child is coughing (she’s too young for a peak flow meter btw) and I am using her bronchodilator how much should it help? How do I know if it’s helping enough or if it’s not working? Should it stop the cough when she takes it? Because it doesn’t. It seems like she coughs like crazy for the 30min before she’s due for a puff and the hour after she takes her puff. She coughs much less the rest of the
time but it never goes away completely. She doesn’t have symptoms of a cold so I’m pretty sure it’s the asthma.
None of the doctors I’ve talked to have explained well enough how well the puffer is supposed to help. Also when she takes her first puff, she coughs. Just once but from the puffer. Is that normal?
Not being a medical professional myself and answering purely as a parent, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that if your daughter has been coughing like this for awhile, it sounds as though she’s experiencing a prolonged flare and/or that she needs a treatment plan change to attain better asthma control.
My daughter reacted in a similar way to her bronchodilator when she was younger – her asthma cough would lessen but never completely leave – until we finally put her on maintenance corticosteroids and figured out her triggers. Essentially, we had to reduce her airway inflammation before her quick-relief treatments worked fully and made that constant cough disappear. Now, at age 11, she only coughs on and off throughout the day during the more persistent flares (about a week’s duration) and/or while sick.
Again, this is purely my opinion and not medical advice, but I’m guessing your daughter’s inhaler is not helping her enough, particularly if you don’t think she’s sick and if these symptoms have hung around for awhile. I’d make an appointment with her doctor to talk about stepping up her treatment plan, possibly by changing and/or adding meds. The doctor may also recommend daily inhaled steroids for maintenance if she’s not already on them or even allergy testing to pin down her triggers.
As for your last question, my kid also sometimes coughs once when she uses her bronchodilator, but only if she’s already flaring. If your daughter’s inhaler ever starts inducing severe or uncontrollable coughing, you may want to ask about switching to a different type.
That’s my two cents, and I hope it helps. How about it, readers? What do you think?