Rebecca’s son has experienced several episodes of flu or flu-like illness. They have all been followed by a series of asthma attacks and sometimes resulted in hospital admittance. Rebecca would like to encourage GPs to diagnose asthma at an earlier age and would also appreciate further support to be able manage the flu or flu-like illness episodes at home.
When Rebecca’s son was about 1 year old, he started to suffer from episodes of what they thought to be a post viral wheeze which was later found out to be asthma. His asthma attacks were triggered by a flu-like illness each time, where he experienced high fever and a cough, and was admitted to hospital. After 5 months of suffering from the post viral wheeze he was referred to a respiratory consultant who diagnosed asthma.
Flu and cold like illnesses have a big impact on Rebecca’s son’s asthma and usually result in him attending the out of hours clinic or hospital admittance. Rebecca explains that he initially suffers from rough dry skin which builds up to a runny nose followed by a change in mood, unclear mucus, high temperature, sore throat, becoming sweaty and then coughing and being unable to breathe. Rebecca described how an asthmatic cough is different to a normal cough, in that her son experiences sinking near the throat and will need inhalers through the night. She explains that they had not sought out or been given information about the impact of the flu on her son’s asthma and have just learnt from experience. As soon as Rebecca notices any early signs of a flu-like illness in her son, she starts to manage his asthma more rigorously. She said that it has taken some time to work out how to best do this.
Although Rebecca often feels a sense of relief and reassurance when her son is admitted to hospital during an asthma attack, she would prefer to be able to manage the flu episodes at home. She now tends to by-pass her GP on asthma related queries as she had found greater support and comfort from out of hours clinic or the hospital. She has also found talking to parents on asthma support forums and Asthma UK incredibly helpful. She and her husband own their own business which makes it is easier to manage their work around their children. She describes how her son’s asthma has influenced healthcare and lifestyle decisions. She said that she was told that her son could be more prone to respiratory illnesses without the flu jab and believes that having the jab is the lesser of two evils and means that they worry less in the winter if he gets colds. She also keeps her son out of school if there are cases of flu.
Rebecca encourages health professionals to provide consistent information to parents and recognize that people present with asthma in different ways. She emphasizes that parents should not be afraid to by-pass their GPs as not all cases are textbook cases, which can lead to a delay in diagnosis and treatment.