Breathing difficulties in children
COUGH. COUGH. COUGH - When the doctors don’t help and you are out of ideas
Ever since my twins were born I noticed some differences between the girl and the boy, when it came to breathing and eating. Simple and natural as those two things are, my daughter seemed to have quite some problems with both things. When she was sleeping, even a light day sleep, she snored like you wouldn't believe. We used to laugh about it because everybody stared at the baby stroller, trying to reconcile the snoring noise with the picture of the little baby sleeping. When I breastfed, or even afterwards, with the bottle, it seemed she struggled quite a bit to reconcile drinking the milk and breathing. Obviously, having another baby only made it worse, because I could compare both and given he had none of these problems, I worried much more for her. After all, being born from the same pregnancy, at the same time, same conditions, what could be wrong? Also, being my first children I worried more, because everything was new and a bit terrifying.
In and out of doctors’ offices
I started looking for answers and a way to solve her problem, so I visited several doctors. I’m not sure what was worse during those times: opinions divided, either it was absolutely nothing and she would grow of it or it was terrible and I couldn't even think about taking her here or there, because she wouldn't resist and she would be terribly sick.
So, none of them helped. The thing is you hear you are supposed to go to the doctor if the condition doesn't disappear in so many days, but what do you do when the condition never disappears? Do you move in the doctor’s office?
Some claimed that it was just laryngomalacia, which literally means soft larynx and it’s supposed to be a very common condition on babies, whose immature cartilage of the upper larynx collapses inward during inhalation, causing airway obstruction. Obviously, usually babies grow out of this condition around two years old.
Others talked about allergies, which apparently you couldn't be sure existed until around three years old.
Then there were the pharyngeal tonsil or nasopharyngeal tonsil, which probably were too big, causing the condition.
All of the above however shared the common feeling that all would go away eventually and no harm would come of this, whatever this was.
Finally, I came across the pessimist, the child was so frail, she could not be out and about with other children. Lord knows what kind of bacteria they had and what that would do to my baby. And by no means should I let her sleep with her baby blankie. And probably she would have to have a surgery asap.
Well, that basically did it for me and I decided to take it lighter and deal with it myself. So long as she wasn't suffering, I could handle it.
Today, she is three and a half and although she’s a bit better, she still has some issues. She has colds very often, she coughs a lot, especially during the night and she snores. But I have some strategies to deal with all this (except for the snoring ). So, here are tips for other moms that may face the same problem.
Do’s and don’ts
Obviously, I’m careful so that she’s not out and about in the backyard if it’s too cold and I’m always checking to make sure she’s not playing with water and the likes and getting all wet, but apart from that I try to let her be, just like her brother, so that she can pick up her own defenses.
I try not to stuff her into coats and coats and I encourage her to go out to play. I’m a big fan of the backyard, the park and the beach. Even during the winter we go to the beach quite often to have a walk and so they can play for a while near the ocean. I find the ocean breeze and the beach are very good for this condition.
I've never took her blankie away from her, as I thought it was very cruel, but I raised her mattress a bit beneath her head, so that she had an easier time breathing in her sleep.
Also, she was a real pacifier addict and obviously that did not help her breathe, so I took the pacifier away, but only when I realized that thumb sucking would not be an option. It would be no good if I took the pacifier away and she started sucking on her thumb. But when I took it away, it was all about the pacifier, not really sucking, so it probably didn't even cross her mind that she could suck on her thumb.
When her cough gets worse I use some of my mother home recipes. When things are really tough I use several of them at the same time. So, here are some of my favorites:
Boiled eucalyptus leaves
I gather some leaves from a young eucalyptus tree (from the species” Eucalyptus globulus Labill”). This sort of eucalyptus is easy to recognize, when young the leaves are of a blue greenish color and they’re very scented. Some call it male eucalyptus.
Basically, you just need to gather the leaves and boil it in water. Usually, I bring my child to the kitchen with me while I’m doing that and I close the doors so she inhales the vapors. Even better, it would be to boil it in a closed pot and after a while remove it from the heat and inhale the vapors directly from the steaming pot, but she’s too little for that still.
Another old time favorite is the carrot syrup. It’s true it’s loaded with sugars, but so long as it serves its purpose, we can overlook the extra sugar for two or three days.
Peel one or two carrots and slice them into a bowl, then cover them with sugar or honey and let it rest for a while until the sugar or honey liquefies and mixes with the juices from the carrot. Then, it’s done and there are no worries concerning max. dosage.
Just pay a visit to the garden and gather some thyme, wash it well and boil it to make some tea. Once it’s done pour the tea into a tea-cup and add a bit of honey, which serves a double purpose, sweetness and helping with the cough.
Slice a lemon and lay out the slices on a plate, then sprinkle them with sugar. Wait for the sugar to liquefy with the lemon juices and it’s done.
Honey has always been a folk’s remedy for cough and the fact is that it works. In fact, recent studies have shown than when compared with some cough medicines’ on the market, honey is better.
So, 1 or 2 teaspoons of honey before bed is wonderful to calm the child’s cough down. Beware not to give honey to children under 1 year old.
I've also bought a nebulizer and whenever she gets worse I use it at least twice a day, before bedtime and as soon as she is off bed, first thing in the morning. I don’t use it with any medicines, just saline. It seems to improve the air passageways and she breaths a little better.
When I finally relaxed and decided to take things into my own hands, everything seemed to be better, probably also because I was in control, it was up to me and that thought helped. Also, not hearing contradictory opinions from doctors constantly and trying all sorts of recipes that got me nowhere helped quite a bit and lifted off some of the confusion I experienced for a while. I really felt I could help her feel better and I think it’s working. Although she still has her problems, she is getting better and all the home recipes help out.
Perhaps in the future we may have to consider a surgery, as was pointed out by some doctors, perhaps it is pharyngeal tonsil or nasopharyngeal tonsil, as lately has been pointed out, but if we get to that at least she won’t be so small and frail to face a surgery and deal with the aftermath.
But that, if it happens, it’s something to worry about in the long run, because for now the tea and honey and the eucalyptus leaves and all the hugs and kisses have been the state of the art medicines that make all the difference.
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© 2012 Joana e Bruno
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