Zac has had croup every winter since he was 2. The first bout was horrendous and required hospital treatment. After that we were told how to treat him at home and how best to manage his allergies during Autumn and Winter. We bought a steamer for his bedroom and whenever he had a cold we switched it on in anticipation of the midnight bark. His blue inhaler helped too, along with regular doses of Calpol and keeping him upright.
With each bout we got better at treating it and each episode was less severe than the one before. However, he is still prone to bad coughs and sore throats, at any time of year, and we are always told that this is just a side effect of his asthma and inhaled allergies. Happily, even they have started to improve.
We saw his consultant last September and were happy to report that Zac’s hay fever had been totally controlled by his anti-histamine during Summer and he was not needing his blue inhaler at all. Zac has been taking 10ml of anti-histamine every morning and evening for a couple of years and even then there were some days when he would need an extra dose of another anti-histamine and a few puffs of inhaler just to get through. But this Summer he was much better. So his doctor suggested ‘challenging’ him by reducing or even cutting his anti-histamine and preventer inhaler. So we did.
Now I’m not so sure we did the right thing. Since then the perpetual runny nose/allergic rhinitis has returned. He has also had one very bad bout of sickness, that initially I thought was a bug. But unusually, none of the rest of us caught it – so now I wonder if that was a reaction. And he hasn’t coped so well with a few recent colds either.
Zac has displayed ‘allergic type’ symptoms to the common cold virus ever since he was a baby. He would be able to handle it for a few days then would have a big dip, his temperature would spike, he would get skin rashes – lacy looking ones under the skin, eczema on top and a croupy cough. The first few episodes resulted in emergency hospital visits but he thankfully always settled down with some time under an air conditioning unit or fan, some extra anti-histamine and high (but medically prescribed) alternate doses of Calpol and Nurofen.
Last week he had his worst episode in a long time. It started off as a normal cold, then developed into a chesty cough and after a few days he was complaining of a sore neck and throat. I looked in his mouth and saw he had very large tonsils. A doctor noticed this last time he had a bad cough/cold. He told me that it wasn’t tonsillitis but that Zac just has large tonsils, which is common in children with allergies, particularly those allergic to dairy. I’d never heard that before.
I do have several friends whose children suffer with recurrent tonsillitis and some of them also have allergies – mostly just the inhaled variety. I couldn’t help but wonder if those children would benefit from a daily dose of anti-histamine too – as one of the biggest aggravations to tonsils are allergens. Then I remembered Zac hadn’t had his anti-histamine for a couple of months. Could his sudden tonsil issue be the result of this? Would he have had tonsil problems in the past if it hadn’t been for the large daily doses of anti-histamine.
I took him to the doctors again. This time we saw a Nurse Practitioner and she diagnosed ‘proper tonsillitis’ because they were spotty as well as inflamed. She prescribed anti-biotics. My heart sank. Zac doesn’t get on with anti-biotics. But she gave us one he hadn’t had before and I was hopeful.
We got the first dose in but he heaved a bit. It did smell pretty nasty. When we tried the second dose he really heaved, then started to cry and choke and spat it all over the floor. And that was that. He said he wouldn’t take any more. We tried to mix it with yoghurt, gave him a chocolate to follow but he still hated it.
I tried it and it was very bitter, so I decided to leave it. He wasn’t suffering too much. No fever, not really complaining of any pain, so I just gave him Calpol and anti-histamine. This was the first dose he’d had any in a long time. As it always used to help him so much with handling colds and viruses, I thought it made sense to give him 10ml – and I remembered what the previous doctor had said about the allergy link.
The next morning, I gave him another 10ml dose. Coincidentally, the children were booked in for their asthma check at the surgery that afternoon. While there I told the nurse that he had tonsillitis but couldn’t/wouldn’t tolerate his anti-biotics. I asked for an alternative. It was a different nurse than the one the day before and she examined him. She said that his tonsils didn’t look that bad and he could probably get by without them. I was happy with that. I really don’t like anti-biotics, they are always so harsh on his tummy.
I took him home, gave him more Calpol and anti-histamine and he had an ok night. The next morning, I looked in his mouth again and the swelling had gone down. I don’t know if they would have gone down anyway, but I suspect the anti-histamine was a factor. We aren’t due to see his allergy doctor again until September – so I can’t ask for any advice on this for a while. Instead I did a quick bit of online research and it does seem that Zac is not alone in this. Lots of allergy kids suffer with their tonsils – and in an anaphylactic reaction it is the tonsils that swell and cause the ‘choking’. I can’t believe I never knew that. I have since read that allergies can also cause the voice box and wind pipe to swell – and that causes croup.
Now I feel even more certain that Zac needs to go back on his anti-histamine. His first and worst bouts of croup were in the days before he took it daily. His first and worst bouts of tonsillitis occurred after he stopped taking it. It seems that Zac has a very sensitive throat and regular anti-histamine has protected him and so here’s hoping now that he is back on it, we won’t have any more episodes of either.
If any of you have family members or children who have suffered with croup, tonsillitis or allergies, please do comment and share your stories. It’s always so interesting and reassuring to hear others experiences and good to share advice and support.
Here’s Zac enjoying the home made dairy free banana and chocolate ice cream I made to cheer him up. Better medicine than any anti-biotic!