Health & Wellness

When Your Children Have Asthma

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Mothers Janice Mullings-George and Tyrika Caisey share their family stories and coping mechanisms 


Watching as your child struggles with asthma can be emotional and stressful for most parents, but an asthma diagnosis doesn’t have to signal panic. 

The Royal Gazette spoke to two mothers who’ve found ways to help their children manage the illness, from diet changes, to proper medicine use and community support. They share their experience and offer tips to help other parents. 

Janice Mullings-George 

Working as a nurse full-time proved to be a lifeline for mother of two, Janice Mullings-George. Both her daughters have serious asthma and allergies that have resulted in frequent hospital visits and constant maintenance. 

The last serious attack happened just after Easter in April 2021. The family had gone out for a walk along the Railway Trail when the girls spotted some Easter lilies nearby. 

“I should have known better, but it happened so quickly and was an immediate trigger for my girls,” said Mrs Mullings-George. “They both started coughing and sneezing and before we knew it, we had to get them to the hospital.” After being admitted to the emergency room, the girls, aged three and seven, were given nebulizers and kept under close watch. 

Mullings-George and family

Asthma is an illness that runs in the family for both Mrs Mullings-George and her husband, which is why they focus a lot of their efforts on daily prevention. “Whenever I enter a space, the first thing I do is scan the environment to make sure there’s nothing that could trigger the girls’ asthma,” she said. “I have to make sure that I dust often and the bedsheets and teddy bears have to be washed with hot water to kill mites. Teddy bears can also be put in the freezer to kill dust mites.” 

Mrs Mullings-George’s girls also suffer with severe eczema – the two conditions can often go hand in hand. Interestingly, she decided to get certified in those specialty nursing areas even before having children of her own, after seeing her sister in and out of hospital with asthma as a child. 

While there are many challenges in managing her daughters’ condition, Mrs Mullings-George admitted she’s thankful for the support system around her, including her husband, paediatrician, Dr Sylvanus Nawab, family, friends, godparents, teachers and neighbours. Together, their goal has been to keep the girls out of hospital as much as possible. 

For her eldest child, this involves daily use of the orange inhaler, which contains fluticasone to reduce swelling and inflammation of the airways and makes breathing easier; as well as diet changes to remove food allergies, like nuts and dairy, from the girls’ diet. 

This combination has made a noticeable difference, especially during cold and flu season. 

“I’ve tried to reinvent my entire menu,” Mrs Mullings-George explained. “If we’re going out to eat, it can be a challenge but even the people closest to us know to always check for certain allergens that can trigger reactive airways and cause the mucus buildup in the lungs.” 

She encouraged any other parent of a child with asthma to make sure they have conversations with their child about the illness and teach them how to use their spacers and inhalers. “We’ve taught them what signs to look out for so they’ll know to say ‘Mommy, my chest feels tight’,” she said. 

“I’ve talked them through what we need to do and the importance of making sure they avoid their triggers. We also have these amazing bands that they wear on the wrists showing what they’re allergic to, so if they’re out with friends they can see what their allergies are. We also empower our kids to speak up, if they’re out at a restaurant for instance. If people around them are aware, we can do a good job at staying on top of it.” 


Tyrika Caisey 

For Tyrika Caisey, her eldest child Keyara started experiencing asthma signs as early as age two. While doctors won’t formally diagnose asthma until a child turns five, Mrs Caisey recalls spending many nights at the hospital while her toddler was on a ventilator. 

By the time Keyara reached primary school, they were spending at least one week at the hospital twice a year – every spring and autumn – due to the change in weather and environmental factors like pollen. That’s when the youngster was officially diagnosed with asthma. 

“It was a very scary time for us as a family,” Mrs Caisey said. “For me, looking at my child and not being able to actually help her was tough. She once had to have an IV put in, but because she wouldn’t keep still the doctor actually busted her blood vessel trying to insert it. She was screaming and it was a really rough experience for all of us.” 

Tyrika & Keyara Caisey

Thankfully, her daughter, now age 13, seems to have her asthma under control; she hasn’t had any major flare-ups in the past four or five years. Mrs Caisey said they were able to manage symptoms with daily use of the orange ‘preventer’ inhaler both morning and at night. 

When Keyara was younger there were some rough nights, Mrs Caisey recalled. “If her wheezing got really bad, I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I was constantly going in to check on her to see if she was breathing. I would look at her neck to see if it was severely dented in when she tried to take a breath. That was my sign ‘Okay, we need hospital intervention’.” 

Mrs Caisey encouraged parents to advocate for their children. She also suggested keeping track of each hospital visit and asking the doctor or nurse for your child’s oxygen levels. “If it drops below 90 that means they’re not getting sufficient oxygen. You definitely have to pay attention. I never leave the hospital without being satisfied that I know her oxygen is at a good level and that she’s breathing normally,” she said. 

The mum-of-two also suggested parents should listen out while talking to their children. If they’re gasping for air after every other word that’s a sign something isn’t right. “You need a lot of patience and should take the initiative to research asthma so you know what signs to look out for.” 

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