This is the case of a 7 ½ year old girl who had been diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma at age five. She had been to see four specialists for all her concerns, which included frequent stomachaches, constipation, anxiety, and sensory processing issues.
Prior to our visit she had been to the ER three times for wheezing. She was taking maximum medicines for her asthma, plus other medications and supplements for constipation:
- Xyzal® (levocetirizine dihydrochloride – an anti-histamine) for allergies and asthma daily
- QVAR® (beclomethasone dipropionate HFA – inhaled steroid) for asthma
- Nebulized albuterol – a fast acting asthma relief medication
- Nebulized budesonide (inhaled steroid) for asthma
- SINGULAIR® (montelukast sodium) for asthma and allergies
- Flonase® (fluticasone propionate nasal spray) for nasal symptoms
- MiraLAX® (polyethylene glycol 3350) for constipation
- Benefiber® for constipation
Think of the co-payments for all these meds, in addition to the trauma of dealing with so many health issues.
The integrative approach to asthma in children
We began with the integrative approach and this always starts with gut health. I never address a child’s asthma until we begin addressing their constipation. Soon after we began our work together, we saw improvements in her constipation and a lessening of her stomach pain.
Now, about five months later, she has decreased to three medications for asthma and allergies and she has not had a bad flare-up since that time. Remember, before starting the integrative program, she’d had three emergency room visits for asthma attacks.
Keep reading to learn more about our integrative approach.
Choosing an integrative pediatrician
Our little patient had seen an integrative practitioner prior to coming to our office but they did not have a good experience. The practitioner wanted the family to make so many changes all at once that mom and dad felt overwhelmed, and as a result, were not able to implement the plan fully.
She also had a reaction to one of the supplements that had been prescribed and ended up in the ER. This made the family even more hesitant to continue with the integrative approach.
When they came to see me, we took the whole picture into consideration. We made changes very slowly to accommodate her individual needs including her particular eating and a busy family schedule.
Asthma and inflammation
Given all her symptoms we knew she had a high level of systemic inflammation. Inflammation occurs when we are continuously exposed to things that trigger inflammation. Inflammation in turn hinders the ability of our immune system to function properly. There are five main triggers of inflammation:
- Environmental allergies
- Environmental toxins
- Infectious disease
When inflammation is left unchecked and we are not taking steps to lessen these triggers at the root, medications can help lessen symptoms, but sometimes they leave the child still suffering, as it was with this young girl—she was still landing in the ER despite being on so many meds.
Since inflammation makes us susceptible to chronic and recurrent illnesses, we knew her systemic inflammation needed to be addressed.
An integrative treatment plan for childhood asthma
We tailored our treatment plan around priorities. Priority One: starting supplements while figuring out which foods our picky eater would eat as we removed dairy. Supplements were added one at a time for several days before adding a new one. This allows us to gauge her response to each supplement, good or bad.
In the first month of our treatment plan, mom removed 80% of dairy and gluten from her daughter’s diet, and her energy increased.
Two months later, her energy improvement was sustained and she had 50% less abdominal pain. She was able to swim and go to summer camp. She had no ER visits in the second month of being 80% dairy- and gluten-free.
Five months into her treatment plan, she had no bad asthma flares that required an ER visit. As you can imagine, her demeanor was calmer and her anxiety lessened.
She is still on MiraLAX®, some Benefiber®, QVAR®, Xyzal® and albuterol as needed. Her allergist stopped her SINGULAIR® since her environmental allergies were minimal.
We believe foods are the biggest culprit in her illnesses and continue working to move her to an anti-inflammatory diet filled with good fats, green leafy veggies, and healthy proteins.
Yes, she is still on prescriptions; thankfully, an even stronger asthma medication was not needed. Her case is a great example of why an integrative approach to asthma works so effectively. We use the best of both conventional and integrative medicine to begin decreasing systemic inflammation while optimizing the effectiveness of the medications she is taking.
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