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Yuri’s Asthma Scare

Almost a month ago, I rushed Yuri to the hospital because he was having difficulty breathing.

I was supposed to write about this, well, almost a month ago, but school-related stuff piled up, my birthday came up — a lot of things happened. Also, I didn’t dwell on this issue anymore because Yuri already got better, not to mention I don’t really talk about our hospital visits here in my blog.

However, as I was looking through my phone gallery, I saw the pictures again and remembered the entire ordeal. I thought I should write about it because it can help a reader who might encounter these symptoms someday.

Yuri’s health scare started early morning of May 24th. It was still dark when I woke up to Yuri making gasping noises. I initially dismissed it for stuffy nose because he was also having a cold.

But it didn’t sound right. He was literally gasping for air. I adjusted his position so that his head rested higher on his pillow and then he seemed to recover. I went back to sleep because I think it was still around 4 am. When the sun rose, he started gasping again for air, and I started to worry because his face was already looking like this:

He was still trying to sleep, poor baby

He was sobbing and I assumed it was because of the stuffy nose (again!). That he was actually unable to breathe didn’t immediately cross my mind. There’s no one in the family who is asthmatic so I wasn’t familiar with the symptoms. I tried to relieve what Yuri was feeling by applying  Eukybear ointment, changing his position from time to time, letting him breathe in some steam — because I kept thinking it must be his cold. It was after he vomited when I finally listened to my gut feeling and took him to the hospital.

Even though I didn’t know what illness he was having, I remembered counting Yuri’s breathing because it was so rapid. I remembered counting up to 60-75/minute at one time — the normal respiratory rate for a 5-year old is just 20-30/minute.

When Yuri’s pediatrician saw him and saw his rapid respiratory rate, she immediately ordered for him to be nebulized for an hour with breaks in between. According to doc, if he doesn’t get better after nebulization, then it’s hospital confinement for him. She didn’t mention, but when I asked if it could be pneumonia, Yuri’s doctor couldn’t confirm nor deny. At that point, she couldn’t confirm, too, if Yuri was asthmatic or not. It all depended on whether Yuri gets better after nebulization.

It was my very first time to see a nebulizer. Like what I said, there’s no one in the family who was asthmatic, so I was experiencing nebulization for the first time. Immediately after the first dose, Yuri started getting better. After 40 minutes of nebulization, he was able to eat for the first time that day. Thank you Lord! More than an hour and four vials of medicine later, Yuri’s respiratory rate was down to 35/minute and was feeling a lot better.

Honestly, I shudder to think about what could have happened if I didn’t bring Yuri to the hospital. It was only after getting nebulized that he was able to breathe, so Yuri would have suffered a lot if we stayed at home and let him “rest.”

We went back to Yuri’s doctor’s office (when we arrived at the hospital earlier, I had to carry him because he was too weak to walk; by this time, he was already fine walking on his own) to hear the diagnosis. The doctor saw Yuri’s improvement so there was no need for him to be confined. However, he was still under observation for 5 days. If his breathing became rapid again, we were to go immediately to the ER. But after 5 days of religiously taking medicine, it never happened again. Praise God!

To be honest, I am still unsure whether Yuri is asthmatic or not. According to his doctor, there were too many factors to consider. It could have been an asthma attack, or it could have been his cold. It could have been a viral infection (bronchiolitis), or it could have been caused by smoke inhalation or exposure to harsh weather (we went out-of-town about a week before this event). Neither I nor Job has history of asthma, but there’s still a possibility since I have allergic rhinitis.

Even though it’s been a month, I am still observing Yuri. This time, I will be more vigilant and I will listen to my gut feeling right away. Mother’s instinct is real!

Here are the things I learned that might come in handy for you someday:

  • Take note of children’s normal respiratory rate. It varies per age, but it can be easily Googled. If your child’s breathing exceeds this without reason, please see the doctor.
  • Without counting breaths per minute, you can easily spot a child who is breathing rapidly. Look out for flared nostrils, high-pitched breathing sounds, and retraction: “the skin sucking in (indrawing) in the chest below the rib cage, above the collarbone, between the ribs or in the neck” (About Kids Health).
  • Rapid breathing coupled with vomiting is never a good combination.
  • Even if asthma doesn’t run in your family, a child might still get it.
  • If you suspect pneumonia, go to the ER right away.
  • If you suspect asthma and you don’t have a nebulizer at home, go to the ER right away.
  • Listen to your gut feeling. It’s better to hear your doctor assure you that nothing is wrong than stay at home and let the child suffer because you think there is nothing wrong.