Little A is two now. His birthday party was a smashing success, with all the children enjoying themselves thanks to a big bouncy castle. The birthday boy wanted only one thing - to go swimming, so we allowed him to do so while the rest of the guests played pass the parcel.
Later in evening after his party, he started to cough. A real, smoker's-type cough. His first official not-connected-to-a-cold real cough. Two days later, we took him to the doctor. Our pediatrician, who is also a pulmonary specialist, is on holiday for a month, and the doctor who took her place prescribed Combivent in a nebuliser thrice a day for five days and Virlix syrup at bedtime. The diagnosis was bronchitis - viral or allergic.
Desperate to stop the cough and fearful of the possibility of pneumonia, we purchased the meds and borrowed a nebuliser. Little A cooperated at first; he likes biting things so we made him practise with the nebuliser mouthpiece before connecting it to the machine. Cooperation didn't last long though. The compressor's noise annoyed him and he would run away whenever we turned it on. In the end, we kept it running and just wafted the smoke in his general direction. This happened thrice out of what my husband and I decided would be 10 doses instead of the prescribed 15.
Since the cough showed no signs of improvement, I took the sneaky route for the next 3 doses. When Little A fell asleep, I attached the inhalation mask to the nebuliser and that way made sure the medicine got into his system.
Then I read up on Combivent. (Note: according to my sister and best friend, our pediatrician only prescribes saline solution for use with a nebuliser. However, since Little A's cough was pretty bad, I figured the doctor knew what she was doing prescribing a stronger drug.) What I read totally freaked me out.
Combivent is an asthma medicine, most commonly used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. My son does not, to my knowledge, have asthma or any sort of pulmonary disease. Combivent cannot be used by those with soy and nut allergies and can cause severe allergic reactions, including swelling of the face, nose and throat and anaphylatic shock. Furthermore, the dosage given to my son is recommended only for people over 12 years old, and the drug is not recommended for children below age 12.
More frightening still are the possible side effects: chest pain or heaviness, difficulty breathing, dizziness, nausea or blurred vision, loss of feeling in the left arm and shoulder, increased blood pressure, hypertension and death. My son is two years old. He doesn't even say Mama, how can he tell me if he's having difficulty breathing or can't feel his arm anymore?
We stopped the Combivent doses after reading all this, completing 6 doses in all. One week later, the cough is slowly getting better. We are still keeping close watch over Little A - he never had a fever and his energy level and appetite are the same, so we pray this was just a cough brought on by swimming in cool weather or a virus. When our regular pediatrician comes back, we will take Little A to see her.
Meanwhile, I have learned my lesson. Never give your child any meds without reading up on them first, and seek a second opinion if you feel the need.