Asthma attack leading to inability to move limbs

I have an 11yr old dancer with asthma.  Diagnosed a few years back.  A few weeks ago she had a sever asthma attack that after using inhaler her hands cramped up into what the dr called “trousseau effect”…she could not move them for about an hour and her feet were heavy.  She could walk but slow.  Went to er at dr advice and she was fine next day.  Thought it was a fluke but then it happened yesterday at rehearsal (6hr long) she was fine, then had an attack, sat down used inhaler, was catching her breathe then hands started cramping and this time within 5 mns she couldn’t move her hands, arms, legs or feet.  It’s like her muscles all just locked.  It was hard for me to move them!  It took 3.5 hrs for her to be able to stand and walk but still with help.  Today she is fine.

has anyone ever had this experience and what did you do to help not go through this during asthma attacks?  We have told her to breathe into a paper bag or through one nostril…hoping that helps reduce amount of oxygen she is pulling.

thanks for any helpful advice!


Comments 12

  • Kathy P

    Welcome Molly! Wow that's sounds really scary! Have you let the doc know about this episode?I have not heard of "trousseau effect" but some googling says it's related to electrolyte balance. Is that what the doc was thinking?I bike ride and sometimes wind up with cramps if I'm not careful about my hydration and (I think) potassium levels. I came across an article about Albuterol messing with electrolytes. Let me see if I can find it. BRB

  • Molly

    Thank you Kathy!  I did message her dr…just waiting to hear back.  

    That is a lot of dr… but it does seem to echo what er dr said…her first was due to drop in calcium…they said due to hyperventilating during the attack.  But this report seems to reflect that it’s a possibility that inhalers can mess with electrolytes esp if they are unbalanced in the first place.  So I guess it would be wise to get a blood draw and see what her levels are.  In both times it happened after taking her inhaler.  It could be that then the inhaler opened her airways and she was still doing too fast deep breaths..or like this study notes…it could be inhaler messing it up.


    thank you for this link!!!!

  • Kathy P

    Let us know what the doc says. I'm still trying to figure out my owncramping issues and all I've figured out is that if I carry/drinkelectrolyte solution vs plain water, they happen less frequently and forshorter times.

  • K8sMom2002

    Molly, how are things this afternoon? That sounds really painful and scary!

    And could you talk to her doctor about what might be triggering the asthma to begin with? Is it always the same time of day? The same place? Could there be something about the time of day or the location that could be triggering her asthma?

    If it's an electrolyte imbalance underlying this, I think it would be a good idea to try to figure out what's causing that.  Could you talk to her doctor about recognizing this earlier? And what may be the cause? 

    Sometimes it can be as simple as being dehydrated, while other times it's more complicated. Have you guys circled back and seen your asthma doctor?

  • Jen

    @Molly Welcome to AAFA's support forums.  I definitely think checking in with your dd's doctor to see what can/should be done would be a good idea.

  • Molly

    Thanks all!  Her dr gave us a referral for pulmonologist…so we’ll see what they say!!!



  • K8sMom2002

    That is so reassuring to hear! How's she doing today? A dancer who can't dance because of asthma isn't a happy dancer!

    We have another dance mom whose daughter has asthma … @Anne P truly understands what you're going through. Big hugs!

  • Molly

    Yes she is not happy when she can’t dance and we have Nutcracker coming up in 9 days!  No attacks today.  One yesterday. We have an appt in Jan but her ped is calling pulmonologist tomorrow to get appt expedited to Nov!


  • K8sMom2002

    @Molly, how are things going now? Were you ever able to see the pulmo? Or is that still coming up in January?

  • Jen

    @Molly Has she had any more attacks that affect her limbs?  Did you guys ever get in to see the pulmonologist?