Frustrations and No Answers For Allergic Asthma


Frustration for me is having no answers. Right now I’m very frustrated.

Over the past few weeks Tristan’s asthma has started to flare out of control. Every night he has coughing fits as the Ventolin and the air purifier don’t offer the relief they used to. We’re on to Flovent now to see if it can help provide him with some relief. I cringe at using it because it’s an inhaled steroid with studies proving it inhibits growth, although by a very small amount. Regardless, it’s a steroid and in my mind, is not for long-term use and I like to avoid them at all costs. BUT since breathing is essential, if Flovent is what I have to use to ensure my child can breath properly and safely for now, then so be it. I will submit to using it for the safety of my child. But I vow to find his asthma triggers. I will not simply medicate my child for the rest of his life. I will find answers.

After years of struggling with his eczema, we finally have a good understanding of his food allergies and sensitivities, which were the primary triggers for his itchy skin. So I was very sure that the answer to his flaring asthma had to blamed on something else – most likely environmental or seasonal allergies. So, first stop, the allergist for some skin testing. I know birch pollen causes his eczema to flare up each spring, but doesn’t seem to affect his breathing. But when ragweed was at its peak late this summer, he had a severe asthma attack out of the blue. Coincidence? Before and after that his asthma would come and go with the night-time coughing. Was it due to ragweed? Mold? Dust mites? I couldn’t wait for the allergy test as I was 100% sure we would find the answers.

And I was very wrong. I’m sorry to say that Tristan tested negative in skin tests for the most common seasonal and environmental allergens. Like I said, frustration. That’s where I am right now. Beyond frustrated.

I felt so disheartened when I saw the results. I’m sure most people would be relieved to see negative test results, but not me. I wanted answers. I asked the doctor how this could happen – how could Tristan test negative when it seemed pretty obvious that ragweed triggered his severe asthma attack. The ragweed numbers were off the chart that day according to meteorologists. It couldn’t be a coincidence. According to his doctor, there are some people, mostly atopic, that test negative in skin tests, but show positive results (an actual immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated responses) in the lungs themselves! What? Wow, I’d never heard of this. Before I got too excited, he explained that it’s not recommended to do the lung test on young children as it’s quite invasive as severe coughing must be induced in order to get the secretions they need for testing. I believe this method is called bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL).

So, the pediatric allergist was not willing to do the test on him, and quite frankly, I’m not sure I’d be game either after reading more about it. Where does that leave me? With no answers. Frustrated.

But, as with his eczema, I shouldn’t have expected the asthma journey to be easy. Medication is readily available, but actual causes, actual triggers, much harder to find. It may take years, but I won’t give up. In the mean time, Tristan is going to be taking Flovent regularly so we can get a better handle on his asthma. The doctor had an excellent point when he indicated that inflamed lungs result in more severe allergic reactions to food allergens. And I certainly do not want to experience full-blown anaphylaxis again, ever. So, Flovent for now.

Then, next step is homeopathy. Fingers crossed, toes crossed, everything crossed. Surely it won’t be that easy, but I’m always hopeful. If I lose hope, I’ll give up the fight for my child and that’s just not an option.