Healthy Kids Stories: Ally

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At school, Ally was often referred to as “the girl who coughs.” 

Our daughter’s coughing fits were uncontrollable, even with all kinds of meds. From the time she was almost two years old until she was nine, Ally had this cough (it had a distinct sound) that I would recognize. Every time I heard it, I knew we were in for another round that would escalate to high fevers, absences from school and three to four weeks of misery. Ally was almost never well for more than a month at a time. Oddly, we quickly learned that no one else in the family ever caught her cold. I wouldn’t even hesitate to drink after her because whatever she had, it certainly wasn’t contagious. 

When we took Ally anywhere, we got angry looks from people who though we were exposing them to sickness. I am sure they wondered why I would take such a sick child out in public to contaminate everyone else. Ally sounded so awful, I certainly didn’t blame them for being judgmental. She was absolutely miserable most of the time. Coughing through the night meant she didn’t sleep well, so she was constantly exhausted. Many over the counter cough medicines were given to help her sleep at night. She had to quit soccer because she spent more time on the sidelines hacking than she did playing. The gym teacher at school wouldn’t let her participate in some of the activities, so she had to sit and watch. On occasion, her teacher would ask her to leave the classroom because her cough was disruptive. One might think this would upset me as her mom, but I actually understood the teacher’s perspective. It was difficult at home many times because she would constantly cough. These attacks would get worse in the evening. It would not be uncommon for her to throw up as a result of the heavy coughing. I hate to admit it, but we sometimes asked her to leave the room so we could complete a conversation or finish watching a TV show. 

Girl with pink backpack on sitting on the grass looking out over a mountain range
The issues we faced for more than seven years were difficult. Every time we went to the doctor it was obvious to me that he wasn’t certain what ailed her. We saw many doctors and got the impression that they were simply guessing. Her cough would worsen when she exercised so this and other symptoms led doctors to believe she had asthma. They put her on asthma medications (Albuterol and Zymbicort) for many years. I was always skeptical because she was never short of breath. The asthma medications made her very moody and angry, so I elected to stop giving them to her. On one occasion, we had to take her to the emergency room after two hours of non-stop coughing. They gave her oral steroids to help reduce the cough. She has been prescribed other cough medications that I couldn’t bring myself to give her because to me they appeared to be too heavy of a drug for such a small child. I was never convinced the doctors were certain of their diagnosis. 

Things started turning around for us when one doctor finally admitted, “I don’t know if she really has asthma, I think you should take her to an allergy or asthma specialist.” Ally went through all the tests and we discovered she has absolutely no allergies and more than likely not even asthma. So we didn’t get any further with that specialist either, but he was the one who recommended that we see Dr. Wei. 

The best advise Dr. Wei gave me was...EVERYTHING! She explained her theory about Ally’s health issues and her diet. Although I was skeptical (since we have been struggling with this for so many years) it was so refreshing because Dr. Wei’s solution didn’t involve medication or surgery. I have always been a big believer that our health problems can be traced back to our diet, so I was more than willing to try adjusting Ally’s eating lifestyle. With Dr. Wei’s advice, we reduced dairy and sugar from her diet, and watched carefully what time she was eating. Within four weeks we could see a big difference. Since implementing these very simple changes, Ally has not had a single cough attack. This is nothing short of miraculous to us because up to this point she had been episodic on almost a monthly basis. We’d been dealing with this practically her whole life, so we are just amazed by how different life with our daughter is now. 

—Krista, Ally’s mom 

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