My son did not win a perfect attendance award at school last year.
Instead, he set a personal record for the most days spent at the pediatrician's office.
Since moving from Colorado to Florida six months ago, my 7-year-old son, Ryan, developed asthma. He did not have allergies or any respiratory problems before we moved, but once we got to Florida, everything changed.
I noticed that he was constantly sneezing and sniffling, and his eyes were red and itchy, especially after being outside. These symptoms were manageable with the help of an over-the-counter antihistamine, but it was the cough that was troublesome.
Every few weeks, Ryan would start coughing and it would get so bad that and we'd end up at the pediatrician's office. At first, the doctor prescribed an oral steroid to alleviate the symptoms. This worked, but eventually the cough came back. After several more trips to the pediatrician's office due to severe coughing and wheezing, she determined that Ryan had asthma, or a reactive airway.
Ryan's body was reacting to something it perceived as harmful, and the airways of his lungs became inflamed and constricted. Since Ryan grew up in Colorado, he had never been exposed to certain allergy triggers that are common in Florida.
Working with Ryan's doctor, we came up with an asthma plan. He now has two prescribed inhalers to help control his asthma. He uses one inhaler on a daily basis to prevent asthma symptoms, and another he uses before playing sports to help his breathing. The doctor also had Ryan allergy tested so we could discover what his allergic triggers were. It turns out that he is highly allergic to mold, oak, and certain grasses, all things which are not common in Colorado.
In doing research, I found one website that was particularly helpful and has a lot of great information, asthma.com. It has a "For Parents" tab that discusses triggers and how to minimize exposure, and even a guideline for when your child should stay home from school due to symptoms.
Since Ryan is 7, he's old enough to understand and learn about his condition, so I found two websites that have informative and interactive games for him to play. Ryan likes watching Arthur, and pbskids.org has the Buster Baxter, Lung Defender game. There is also lungtropolis.com, which has a game for kids and a separate, informative section for parents.
Finding out that your child has asthma can be scary, but working with your doctor and arming yourself with information can help ease that anxiety. My goal is that Ryan won't have to miss any school because of his asthma, and he can win a perfect attendance award this year.