Leonard doesn’t get sick any more often than his classmates do

Photo of a family taking a stroll
PantherMedia / Pavel Losevsky

Leonard, 9 years old, and his family

"When I’m unwell, it feels like something is pressing down on my chest. But then I take my medicine and it gets better after a while. I usually don’t notice that I have asthma at all."

Leonard has allergic . He was four years old when it was diagnosed. He doesn’t constantly have symptoms, only at certain times and in certain situations.

Father:

As a young child Leonard often had a spasmodic cough. Our doctor diagnosed , which came as quite a surprise to us. At first we were quite worried about it. There’s a lot of advice out there, for instance that you should avoid carpets, pets, feather bedding and use leather furniture. We did our own research and thought about it a lot, probably more than necessary.

Mother:

It’s important to have a doctor who you can trust. We're very happy with ours. He's a pediatrician and also specializes in lung diseases. And then it's important to stay calm and read up about on your own in peace and quiet. Our response to the was pretty hectic, but the disease isn’t likely to suddenly get worse overnight. Of course, it all depends on how serious the is. In our case it's very straightforward.

Father:

Right at the beginning we vacuumed the house a lot, but things returned to normal after a while. Leonard is mainly allergic to animal fur, so we have to avoid contact with animals. It's more of a problem when several factors come together. For example, if it's extremely cold outside, he has a cold and also plays at a friend’s house who has a pet. Then his lung function can deteriorate pretty quickly.

Mother:

For about three years now, we've been trying to teach him to take more responsibility for himself and his . He should learn to think of it himself and become more aware of his illness. After all, it's his health. And if he isn’t careful and plays with a cat or comes into contact with animals, we hope he will learn from his mistakes and be more cautious in future.

Father:

It isn’t always that easy to measure Leonard’s lung function regularly. If he's feeling unwell, he notices it himself and uses the peak flow meter without being told to. Otherwise we have to remind and encourage him. He takes measurements twice a day; once in the morning and once in the evening. If he's feeling unwell, he uses the peak flow meter around midday too. He takes the readings and writes down the values himself. If the symptoms get worse, we can hear it in his breathing. Then we reach for the peak flow meter.

Leonard:

I don’t take my medicine all the time, just when I feel unwell. When I’m unwell, it feels like something is pressing down on my chest. But then I take my medicine and it gets better after a while. I usually don’t notice that I have at all.

Mother:

He does take his medicine, but not always regularly. We sometimes have to remind him, especially when he isn’t feeling unwell. He doesn't always see the big picture there. He doesn’t really understand why he should take medicine if he's feeling OK. If the peak flow readings are low, we give him additional medication. We have a sort of emergency medication kit that we put together with the help of our doctor. The symptoms then usually go away after a few days. So far, it has never been so bad that we needed additional help or had to call an ambulance.

We still hope that his will go away eventually, or that he will at least be able to manage it with proper treatment so that he can live a normal life later on. We no longer think the is as bad as we thought at first. Sometimes we worry that it will turn into chronic when he grows up. You can’t really explain to him that taking his medicine now is important for his future.

It’s a bit of a shame that we can’t have any pets.

Leonard doesn’t get sick any more often than his classmates do. The medicine seems to fight inflammations so well that he even seems to get sick less often than they do. He does sports too, without any problems. The condition doesn’t really affect his everyday life. It’s all pretty normal. His friends even think his inhaler is cool. It makes him special.

Acknowledgment

Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.

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Please note that we do not provide individual advice on matters of health. You can read about where to find help and support in Germany in our information “How can I find self-help groups and information centers?

Updated on November 15, 2017
Next planned update: 2021

Authors/Publishers:

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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