Virus or Allergy?

As I have written before, Claire has been struggling with congestion, cough, and an ear infection for the last 2.5 weeks. When she first got sick, she seemed to get better in 4 days, went back to school with a little shallow cough. After a few more days, she seemed well so I let her have her beloved cheese sandwich for lunch. By that afternoon her cough started to get deeper and wetter, and by Saturday she was significantly worse. This is when I began to get a little suspicious. Was the the virus come back? or was this something different? When I start to feel confused about what is bothering the kids, I start to keep a brief journal or their symptoms, treatments, and anything else that might be relevant. It helps me to notice any patterns and to remember everything when I go to the doctor. Here is an example of my journal for the last two weeks that I took with me to her Dr. appointment yesterday:

Claire’s Health February 2010

Note: She has been on her normal multivitamin, DHA, and double proboitics while sick.

  • TH, Jan 28 – Claire came home sick from school. Shallow, dry, cough and tired. No fever. Started elderberry syrup twice a day or for cough as needed. Restricted all dairy.
  • TU, Feb 2 –TH, Feb 4 – Claire felt better and returned to school with mild cough. Still taking elderberry syrup (3-4 times per day). Allowing her to have yogurt (< 1 per day).
  • FR, Feb 5 – Let her have a cheese sandwich for lunch. By that evening cough had developed into a deeper, wetter cough, very tired, and started to get congested. Warm to the touch. Continued elderberry syrup, and started using vapor rub at night or as needed. Began restricting dairy again
  • MN, Feb 8 – Continued to get worse. Still warm to the touch. Brought her in to have the cough and her lungs checked out. Dr. Chang said her lungs were all clear, no fever, and to continue with current treatments.
  • WD, Feb 9 – Her congestion continued to get worse. Still felt warm to me. She began complaining of ear ache in the night. Brought her into Dr. to check out ear. No fever, no fluid, but ear was pink. Asked for an alternative to antibiotics. Dr. suggested garlic oil. Started garlic oil and gave Motrin at night for pain.
  • TH, Feb 10-SA, Feb 13 – She woke up feeling much better: energy level was back, no longer warm to the touch. Still congested, but no ear ache and coughing much less. Continued elderberry syrup, vapor rub, and eardrops but lessened frequency. Stopped garlic ear drops and did not use Sat. night.
  • SU, Feb 14 – She woke up feeling fine. Asked for a cheese sandwich for lunch. By that afternoon, she was tired, irritable, congested, and complaining of an ear ache. Started the garlic ear drops again and continued with elderberry syrup twice per day and vapor rub at night. Gave her Motrin for pain at bed time. Stopped ALL dairy.
  • MO, Feb 15 – She woke up with ear ache, congestion, and warm to the touch. Continued using garlic ear drops all day and Motrin for pain. She napped twice for 1-2 hours each (very unusual for Claire). By 5:30pm has a 100 degree fever. Continued to give ear drops and Motrin for pain, elderberry syrup 2 times a day and vapor rub at night.
  • TU, Feb 16 – She woke up with little ear pain (but having trouble hearing), little congestion, low energy, and almost no cough. We continued the elderberry syrup (morning) and garlic oil ear drops when she woke and after lunch. She complained that her ears hurt when eating hard foods, like carrots. Took a 3.5 hour nap after lunch (very unusual!).

I knew that when she started having trouble hearing that she had fluid in her ears and it was time for antibiotics. But keeping this journal did help me and the Dr. to determine that her dairy allergy has complicated the original virus. And probably caused the increased congestion that caused the ear infection. By removing dairy from her diet during the virus, it was kind of like an involuntary elimination and challenge. So I am giving her the antibiotic and increasing her probiotic, and watching her very carefully (last time she lost bladder control with an antibiotic). Also, we are taking her off all dairy indefinitely. This was very hard news for Claire (and me). It has also complicated family meal night as the next few meals I had planned included cheese. So, it make take another week or so before I get back on track.

Thanks to everyone for their kind thoughts and prayers for Claire over these last few weeks. I am confident she will be back to her normal self soon!

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