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Kids and Allergies: Peak air flow meter the fun game the whole family can play!

Submitted by on Thursday, 12 June 2008 No Comment

During one of Big Guy’s twice-yearly checkups with his allergist back in April, I mentioned that he seemed to struggle more to catch his breath after exertion.

Do you have a peak airflow meter? the doctor asked.

No, I replied hesitantly, knowing Big Guy would balk at yet another addition to his daily program of pills and inhalers.

He’s old enough now, the doctor said. Let’s try it for a month and see how he’s doing.

Visions of “refusal to cover” notices from my insurance company flashed through my head as I foresaw a pricey digital gear such as I’d used at an allergist’s office years ago when I was last tested for asthma.

Instead, the nurse handed me a plastic gadget, courtesy of one of the visiting drug companies. Big Guy’s allergist is great about passing these along to patients — he’s saved me a ton of money over the years, between gear and medicine samples. And trinkets — Big Guy loves visiting Dr. Medical Happy Meal, because he knows he’ll get a toy at the end of an exam.

Big Guy eyed the meter suspiciously, as he does most things new and different.

But then it became a game.

At age not quite 5, he shouldn’t be able to blow more than a 120 to 150. Instead, he regularly hits 200. For weeks, it gave me a false sense of security. Maybe he really doesn’t have asthma anymore. Amazing how you’re able to kid yourself when you desperately want your child to suddenly, miraculously be healthy.

The delusions shattered in early May, when a ferocious wind storm following a dry spell kicked up dust for days. Big Guy plummeted to 100 one evening. I grabbed the alubuterol. Inhaled only — I caught the problem before the nebulizer was needed.

Without the peak flow meter, I might not have. Big Guy often struggles to breathe — he also has enlarged tonsils and adenoids — and it’s difficult for me at times to tell stuffiness from wheeziness.

The down side: Big Guy thinks he’s failed if he can’t “blow it up high.” I’ve explained that his asthma means his lungs sometimes need help, but he’s so competitive he has trouble accepting that.

The up side: Little Guy gets his turn at the meter, too. He gets annoyed that he doesn’t get to use “Breathe-y Bear” — our nickname for Big Guy’s inhaler spacer. He’s happy now that he gets to join the peak flow game, too.

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