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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What's going on with boys vs girls and asthma??!!

(Shutterstock image)

Sheesh! Just when you think you have everything figured out when it comes to asthma.....

I've had allergies and asthma all my life - and I passed my defect on to my kids. All of my teenagers have bad allergies (they have all had to have immunotherapy for 5 years)

Son #1 has exercise-induced asthma. Son #2 has severe asthma and has been hospitalized 8 times (and almost died twice...) Daughter Kitty has asthma and has been hospitalized 4 times (usually due to pneumonia.)

I have spent most of my time worrying about Son #2. Now it seems like Son #2 and Kitty are changing places. I wondered, "what is going on??!!" He is getting better, but her asthma is steadily getting worse? Then I remembered about asthma rates. CDC (The Centers for Disease Control) tracks the percentage of people who have asthma and separate it out by sex, race, age, etc. Their Asthma Facts report has a couple of interesting graphs on page 4.

 The top chart shows asthma rates for ADULTS. It shows that females have higher rates of asthma  at 10.7%, but males have lower rates at 6.5%.

BUT, if you look at the lower chart for CHILDREN, it shows that males have higher rates of asthma at 10% and females have lower rates at 7.1%.

So, in a nutshell, it means that males and females switch places on the charts. When they are young, more boys have asthma. Around puberty, girls/women have higher rates of asthma. 

Why the switch??!! Now I have to worry about Kitty's asthma getting worse??!!
Since I'm a nerd and love to read the science of WHY things are the way they are, I found a study by the U.S. Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health  

Their study shows that hormones affect asthma. And all you women and girls out there know HOW FUN hormones can be (as do our boyfriends/husbands.....) If hormones weren't bad enough to deal with, now they make asthma worse? Sorry ladies! 

I was trying to explain to Hubby why Kitty's asthma is getting worse, and Son #2's asthma is getting better. I hope all of this makes sense to him and for the rest of you. 

Just remember that more boys have asthma when they are little. But around puberty, girls start to have more problems with asthma....and that last until the later in life (when women are in their 50's or 60's.) Thanks hormones! So if you have sons and daughters with asthma, keep an eye on their symptoms. If your daughter seem to be getting worse, talk to your doctor. We have been to Asthma Doc twice in the last month. I'm hoping we finally have Kitty's medicine adjusted now.

Sigh. It's just My Life as an Asthma Mom......  


  1. It's common for asthma to run in a cycle because one of the main causes is autoimmune problems. Female hormones are weird. They can be the culprit of lots of issues. SOMETIMES it can get better once you reach your mid twenties. Which is when puberty usually ends and your body gets used to hormones. For example I had frequent urinary tract infections (I had to be hospitalized for one since it got so severe and antibiotic resistant) and my urologist said my kidneys were normal from a ct scan. He said it was probably hormones effecting the ph in my bladder and vagina. He put me on the pill so my hormones would become regular and I have only had one infection since beig on it and my allergy flares aren't as bad I've noticed. There is stigma about being on the pill but only me and my doctor know I'm on it and I know I'm not jumping in the sack with every guy so it's fine by me. Ask about getting on the pill to control hormone fluctuations and see if that may possibly be something that would help her. If not, maybe someone else may find it useful

    1. Isn't it weird how everything is connected? These bodies of ours....sheesh!

      It they would just work the way they are supposed to.....

  2. I just read a study on labas and increased asthma death rate. I'm on my iPod right now so I can't link it but it was interesting. Part of the reason labas may increase asthma death is that labas can mask the worsening inflammation of the lungs. Labas are neither anti inflammatory or pro inflammatory, and don't treat the inflammation like inhaled steroids do. My allergist said laba death is greatly reduced if used with inhaled steroids. Which makes sense, I remember when I was twelve and was being counseled on proper Nebulizer use, the allergist said," the albuterol just clears up your lungs, the pulmicort is the medicine that really counts and makes the lungs better." Which explains why it is important to do pulmicort Nebulizer after albuterol and not before, so the pulmicort has a better chance to get in.

    1. Yes, I've ready several studies about that the dangers of using labas. That's why doctors NEVER let patients use labas alone (Serevent and Foradil.)

      Several years ago, they added "black box" warnings to those medications so doctors and pharmacists know to be careful and not let a patient take them alone. They're find when they are paired with an anti inflammatory (like Flovent + Serevent = Advair)

      I like how he explained how to use your nebulizer. My Asthma Doc tells us something similar. He says that Albuterol is just a "bandaid" approach until the corticosteroid can get the inflammation down in your lungs.

      Things can be REALLY complicated sometimes!


    This is the article I was reading. It was intersting and I learned new things from it. Have you read it before?

    1. I have actually, thanks for sending that! I am always reading anything I can about asthma.

      I don't think you can EVER know everything about asthma. Because there are always new medicines, treatment plans, etc.

      Sheesh! It's a lot of work to try to keep up.

      I hope you are doing well! :)

  4. Asthma is weird! I'm female, 16, and in Sept. 2013 I was diagnosed with mild intermittent asthma, and a spirometry in February 2014 was 121% of predicted (I'm a highly trained singer, so this is 'normal' rather than 'high'). Then things started getting worse and worse, and I was using about 10 doses of Salbutamol a day, and still struggling quite a bit. Had spirometry in October, at 81% (for a trained singer, it should be about 120%, so this is like a normal person getting 60%) so I got Beclomethasone, 400mcg daily. Ended up in hospital once. Had one course of pred. at 40mg each day for 5 days, and another at 30mg each day for 2 weeks. Went back on Christmas Eve and was given Seretide (UK name for Advair) 50/25 (45/21) and peak flow has been more stable since so..
    Strange how I've gone from possible mild intermittent asthma to moderate persistent asthma in less than a year!

    1. I wonder if there something in your home that is causing problems?

      What I learned from Asthma Doc is how much your environment affects you. You can take all of the asthma medicine you want to, but if there is dust/mold/pets etc in the house that are causing problems, you will have a hard time controlling your asthma.

      The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has a section about asthma triggers. Maybe this will help you see if there is something in your home causing problems?

      I have to be really careful to keep our house clean. Dust is a HUGE trigger for me - it trigger two asthma attacks this weekend while I was cleaning.

      I also have to avoid perfume, scented candles and cold temperatures.

      Asthma can really be a pain in the butt!!!