By Dr. Paul Ehrlich
Google Alerts doesn’t discriminate. The links it turns up range from the sublime and sensible to the ridiculous. Thus, as the Jets were losing to the Steelers, it turned up a heart-rending cry for help from a woman whose daughter was taking a long list of medications for her asthma, and on that list was a chihuahua. Among the comments were several that affirmed the dog approach—be sure you keep it on the child’s chest while she sleeps so that the asthma will pass into the dog. We left this one out of our discussion of alternative treatments in the book. (The site’s mediators also cleared treatments ranging from cranberry juice to moving to Thailand, where medical treatment is cheap.)
I hadn’t heard this old wives tale since I was a fellow 40 years ago. I will say categorically—the Taco Bell chihuahua will really talk before a chihuahua cures asthma in this way. Can a dog provide faith and relieve stress? Yes. Just make sure you name him Placebo. In the meantime, dog dander had better not be one of your child’s allergy triggers.
I felt sorry for this Mom. She religiously cleans the home. She has no insurance. The child is on Advair twice a day, Singulair once a day, Claritin once a day, albuterol inhaler when needed, and an albuterol nebulizer twice a day. Now she’s looking for home remedies—coffee won’t do because she can’t get her child “to drink it while it’s hot like she’s supposed to.” (See previous post about caffeine here.)
She never mentions any allergies. She doesn’t refer to any doctors—someone must be prescribing all those meds. I can’t say for sure, but the list of medications doesn’t sound like it was directed by a specialist, either an allergist or a pulmonologist, especially one who knows about pediatrics.
If anyone wonders why Larry and I make such a strong case for specialty practice, and bemoan the dwindling ranks of allergists, this is it.