Lisa W.’s family was on a fall vacation when her son, Ethan, started having trouble breathing. “It was our first night in a hotel room where it was clear there had been smokers recently,” she says. “Ethan had just turned 1 and hadn’t had any major respiratory symptoms before that night. Back then, staying in a hotel room that wasn’t non-smoking was just annoying. we didn’t realize it could be seriously harmful to Ethan’s health. We d traveled north for this trip, so I thought his problems stemmed from the drop in temperature, or that perhaps he was allergic to something we didn’t have back home.” But Ethan’s problems only worsened and the family’s vacation was disrupted by a trip to the emergency room. The ER doctor gave him a breathing treatment and said he had bronchiolitis.
Ethan was diagnosed with asthma when he was 3; about a year later, a severe asthma attack sent the family back to the ER, and Ethan was hospitalized for three days. The family quickly learned the value of seeing an allergist to help unravel Ethan’s myriad breathing and skin reactions to environmental allergens. Allergy testing showed that Ethan is allergic to cats, but he’s also highly sensitive to pollen and grasses. “If he goes off his allergy medication for a week, even in January when it’s freezing, within five days he has a runny nose, trouble breathing, etc.,” Lisa says. “His skin is sensitive to chemicals in many soaps and detergents, so we have to select those carefully. His lungs also act up if he’s in a room that has new carpet or new paint in it.
“Ever since Ethan’s hospital experience at age 4, we’ve been much more aggressive about preventive medication and treatment,” Lisa says. So far, so good. This approach has kept Ethan, now 10, out of the hospital and breathing easier for the past six years. Lisa s advice to parents of children with complicated conditions such as asthma and allergies: “Bring a notebook and pen and write down whatever is said at the allergist s office,” Lisa says. “I feel this helps the allergist realize how serious you are, and you’re likely to get more specific details when they know you’re interested in fully understanding your child’s condition.”
This patient successfully found relief after seeing an allergist, but the patient’s photograph is not available to respect the patient’s privacy and identity.