Brunei Darussalam


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As a child I had asthma but I grew out of it. Several months ago, I asked my mom if by some stroke of luck she had kept the inhaler device I depended on for a while. Too bad she had thrown it out or else I might have an opportunity to write about a medical device that has quite literary allowed generations of asthma sufferers to breath and live better. These once propeller-driven “puffer” have been replaced by the metered dose inhalers that you see below. For asthma sufferers, Ventolin, Becotide and Flexotide are household names we’ve had to grow up with including the purple coloured Seretide that reminds me of the time when Barney the Dinosaur were my kids’ favourite.

© Jan Shim Photography

Below is the Volumatic™ Spacer Device that my daughter uses for easier administration of Ventolin and Becotide metered dose inhaler. In cases where her wheezing coughs have progressively worsened, one or more Nebuliser treatments at the clinic becomes necessary.

© Jan Shim Photography

Like any concerned parent, I worry about her depedency on the Ventolin™ Evohaler (Salbutamol). As it turns out, Salbutamol is a non-steroidal bronchodilator which from experience is extremely effective in opening the otherwise blocked or constricted airways that makes breathing difficult. In fact, Ventolin’s effectiveness is so widely used and proven that a Chinese medical supplies stockist recommends it for immediate or emergency relief.

The link between asthma and allergies. Allergy-induced asthma is the most common type of asthma in the United States and I suspect this is also true in most countries. Ever since we moved to our present residence in Kg Sg Bera in Seria, Jewel has had on and off complications. It does help that we live in a semi-industrialised location where two ready-mixed cement factories operate. Then one day, I discovered that they’ve been visiting a neighbour who has a number of dogs and Jewel had been regularly playing with their new puppies. I found out from our physician that the protein in dogs saliva (or cats and rodents for that matter) is a known allergen that triggers asthma. If you Google this you’ll find the common triggers being pollen, mold, dust mites and animal dander (skin flakes in an animal’s fur).

If you didn’t know this before, you do now. Keep fury animals away from your child and have fish instead. Now you know another thing, how we ended up having Lionhead Goldfish instead. I found looking after them overwhelming just learning and understanding ways to keep them alive. I might have just develop an allergy myself!

If you’ve been brought up with asthma or have a sibling who has, please let me know how you or a loved one have coped growing up!


  1. It was living hell for me from age 13 ~ 19 yrs old. I believe my problem was the burning leaves at our front yard in the evening trigger my asthma. I suffered for such long period of time without drug intervention. I remember sleeping upright most of the nights and had difficulty in breathing. How I got over it was I steamed myself in a bedroom with “hot water with sliced ginger” to unblock the airway. It worked for me. Please try this method, don’t depend on drug administration for your child. God Bless!


  2. My brother used to be asthmatic. We had to go to hospital for his appointments and have to use that 2nd picture you put on and we still have that. But he’s ok now. Just hope it won’t come back. Oh, I love the first one. Can’t believe it’s colorful


  3. Nice post, very informative, i consider myself lucky to not have asthma, well none of my siblings have either, me and one of my brother however is cursed with sensitive skin. but asthma is a very serious matter and well i didn’t know as much as i know do based on this article. i will gear myself with it and more that i will learn, preparing for the unknown that is to come. Thanks again Jan.


  4. It was living hell for me from age 13 ~ 19 yrs old. I believe my problem was the burning leaves at our front yard in the evening trigger my asthma. I suffered for such long period of time without drug intervention.

    I can imagine. Despite repeated warnings from the days of Haze, open burning made come back and is now fashionable again. So much for the promise of the situation being once enforced. Smoke inhalation is an classic trigger of asthma and there’s no such thing as a clean smoke. Once we brought Jewel out to a shopping mall and we sat down at a popular outdoor cafe for a drink, the next table was smoking and because wind blew in her direction she very quickly got very uncomfortable and her entire night and the weekend were ruined. Some people are just that sensitive.

    How I got over it was I steamed myself in a bedroom with “hot water with sliced ginger” to unblock the airway. It worked for me. Please try this method, don’t depend on drug administration for your child. God Bless!

    I feared dependency but she isn’t. Drugs are the last resort when all else including old folks remedies have proven ineffective. The psychological effects of putting a child on “trial” hopping from one grandma remedy to another can be straining and while adults can put up with the stench from certain herbs, a kid will quickly show you who is really boss! I appreciate the gesture nonetheless.

    My brother used to be asthmatic. We had to go to hospital for his appointments and have to use that 2nd picture you put on and we still have that. But he’s ok now. Just hope it won’t come back.

    My son used to be asthmatic and were on the same “canned” treatment including a number of Nebuliser sessions at the clinic but thankfully he grew out of it when he reached 8 years old thereabouts.


  5. My 4 year-old son is also asthmatic and he hasn’t been freed since 2006. He had bronchial pneumonia at the age of 2 and the doctor told us that there maybe an after-effect (asthma) after a year even the infection was already cured.

    This was my first time to encounter Becotide… and based on my research it has been discontinued in UK and other countries.

    My son tried Flexotide as a preventor and now shifted SINGULAIR. It works well for him and hopefully his growth (height) will be as normal compared to the side-effects of steroid.

    Please allow me to share our experience how my son got asthma.

    He was a very heathy (full-breast-feed) and an active baby on his 1st and 2nd year. Unluckily, he was born with undescended testicle, so the Doctor from R.I.P.a.s. advised to have an operation on his 1st year (We should have not listened and get a second opinion from the other doctor, but it was to late to realized that.) The operation went well, but the ward was terrible. Imagine a baby patient who was just recovering from deep-sleep-operation and lying beside a child who has pneumonia, others with different lung problems and everyone was coughing, crying and restless. They should have separate those patients with infections or virus.

    That’s the reason how our child got sick and weakened his lungs.

    His pneumonia was treated at JPMC, and brought to Singapore for 2nd opinion. Lesson-learned.

    I heard that there is now charges on that hospital, well, if that’s true they should have better service and good staffs. I couldn’t imagine an emergency area where you need to wait for long que. (about 2-4 hrs) before they attend to you. And male nurses who doesn’t want to carry or assist a lady who needs urgent medical attention. Well, enough for my observation and long sharing. I feel good now. Thanks.


  6. Rongen,

    I have a 4 year old daughter who has mild asthma since her fit at 2 yrs old. She was fully breast feed from birth till 1.5 yrs old. Ever since her fit, she is more sensitive to food (allergies) and dry cough that never recover for about 1 year.

    We were prescribed with different kinds of medicines from the paediatric until we settled down with Singulair 4mg once a day.

    It worked miraculously well at first, we managed to sleep peacefully at night. As time went, I noticed some difference in her personality apart from some minor complaints she has. She would always complain of stomach discomfort and pain in her head. She would turn from a sweet little girl to someone who is anxious & irritable for no reason at all.

    Most mothers just have their own 6th sense. I started to study the cause of her anxieties and did my research online. And believe it or not, the symptoms that she was having are from Singulair – check it out at

    It took me a lot of effort to slowly wean her off this medicine. Old folks recommended bird nests, it cost us a fortune but she is doing so far so good now. Keeping my fingers crossed, what I can do now is prevention to keep her away from smoky areas, carpets, fur and food that triggers allergy. And I believe kids can outgrow this as they grow.


  7. Rongen/Jasmine

    Thank you for sharing!

    I am dealing with a kid who is extremely sensitive to smoke, undue stress, allergy to egg white and unconfirmed migraine attacks. I completely emphathize when others are faced with the same dilemma when it comes to health care for the little and elderly ones.

    Imagine a baby patient who was just recovering from deep-sleep-operation and lying beside a child who has pneumonia, others with different lung problems and everyone was coughing, crying and restless. They should have separate those patients with infections or virus.

    You’ve just described a known medical condition called Clinical Pneumonia. As pneumonia is contagious, hospitals make an excellent environment in which the disease spreads either through physical contact or airborne (a/c ventilation) and the numbingly cold air conditioning doesn’t help either.

    My grandma who had surgery to her hip from a fall was recovering nicely when she eventually succumbed to clinical pneumonia. Taking turns in looking after her was a much needed learning curve and eye opener. Suffice to say, “male nurses who doesn’t want to carry or assist a lady who needs urgent medical attention” is least of the issues! I’ll say this, make sure an educated member of the family is on his/her guard at all times as long as medications are given to the patient. This is all I’m prepared to divulge. Lives are lost through negligence all the time and most times they go unnoticed.

    I pity kids today. When they are not on prescription drugs, they are on old folks remedies such as birds nest soup and other alternative medicine, natural or otherwise. The environment we live in contributes just as much to the cause of their health deterioration as the economic need to progress—the inescapable vicious circle of life. And death!

    I recently received this advisory by email and I thought it’s prudent and relevant to share here.

    My husband was working in a hospital as an IT engineer, as the hospital is planning to set up a database of its patient. And he knows some of the doctor quite well. The doctors used to tell him that whenever they have a headache, they are not willing to take PANADOL (PARACETMOL). In fact,they will turn to Chinese Herbal Medicine or find other alternatives.
    This is because Panadol is toxic to the body, and it harms the liver. According to the doctor, Panadol will reside in the body for at least 5 years. And according to the doctor, there used to be an incident where an air stewardess consumes a lot of panadol during her menstrual as she needs to stand all the time. She’s now in her early 30’s, and she needs to wash her kidney (DIALYSIS) every month.

    As said by the doctor that whenever we have a headache, that’s because it is due to the electron/Ion imbalance in the brain. As an alternative solution to cope with this matter, they suggested that we buy 1 or 2 cans of isotonic drink (eg.100 PLUS), and mix it with drinking water according to a ratio of 1:1 or 1:2 (simply, it means one cup 100plus, one or 2 cups water).

    Me and my husband have tried this on several occasions, and it seems to work well. Another method will be to submerge your feet in a basin of warm water so that it bring the blood pressure down from your throbbing head.

    As Panadol is a pain killer, the more Panadol you take, the lesser would be your threshold for pain (your endurance level for pain).

    We all will fall ill as we aged, for woman, we would need to go through childbirth. Imagine that we had spent our entire life popping quite a substantial amount of Panadol (Pain Killer) when you need to have a surgery or operation, you will need a much more amount of general anesthetic to numb your surgical pain than the average person who seldom or rarely takes Panadol … If you have a very high intake of Panadol throughout your life (Migraine, Menstrual cramps) it is very likely that normal general anesthetic will have no effects on you as your body is pumped full with panadol and your body is so used to pain killer that you would need a much stronger pain killer, Morphine??

    Value your life, THINK b4 you easily pop that familiar pill into your mouth again. Please send this to people you care about.


  8. Thank you for sharing, Jasmine. Your 6th sense is true and I trust my wife’s too.

    We don’t give it to him continuously and he has just finished 1 pad since he caught a flu from his little brother. I remember last year, he was also complaining about tummy aches and always irritated when he wakes up at night. He was taking some other medicine then, so we thought that’s the cause. Just recently He became hot tempered and his little brother could make him cry so easily, fighting over toys.

    We also have antihistamine syrup at home, it works quite well too especially at times when there are some triggers which we cannot avoid.

    We’ve tried going to the beach every morning for 6 months but we can’t do that now as we have moved to Bandar. Chinese friends recommended us the reptile meat which we have tried once and didn’t continue.

    Where to buy the bird’s nest, is that a brand or a real nest?

    Yeah, hopefully our kids will outgrow it soon.


  9. As a precaution, we keep a Ventolin inhaler in her school bag at all times and on a number of occasions that has proven useful when she would become breathless from running around so much with her classmates. As ventolin is non-steroidal it’s safe. A teacher recently talked to me about a situation she is in. Her son is asthmatic and doctors dismiss his condition as “OK” so nothing was prescribed as far as a preventor is concerned. Last school holiday, they took a trip to Taiwan not realizing how polluted the air was, he had an attack and scared her senseless!

    Without a doctor’s prescription she cannot buy Ventolin and his doctor decided he doesn’t require one. The issue of healthcare is a difficult one that gets tangled with politics and economics. As our healthcare is heavily subsidised by the government, as is education, we’ve expected to be tolerant of issues that may be too sensitive to discuss publicly.

    Rongen, have you thought about swimming? Both my kids are now in Grade 5 where it’s considerably more difficult. Most of the techniques taught in Grade 5 are strenous enough to trigger asthma as it did last week. She took a break and resumed the class as suggested by the instructor whose own kid is also asthmatic.


  10. Hi Rongen,

    We haven’t try that ‘exotic’ reptile meat though tempted to 🙂 Yes, I have periton in hand and at all times when we travel outside.

    You can get the bird nest from traditional chinese pharmacy. Normally they sell dried – 6 in a pack. I normally double-boiled it for 4 hours, with water & just rock sugar.

    Everynight before sleep, I rub vicks on both her feet and put on socks for her. It helps too.


  11. I know a kid who took a concoction of Chinese herbs and croc meat who has great improved tremendously. As a precaution, she doesn’t take any thing cold such as ice cream or cold drinks. Unsurprisingly she has no cravings for them either—I guess you cannot miss what you never had before!


  12. I just got some “home” remedy from my cousin for asthma.

    My niece also suffered from asthma during young age. But my cousin’s husband family got a “traditional” method to cure it which, for her, it works.

    She had gradually stopped taking the doctor prescripted medications after 4yrs old and turn to take the family remedies.

    I was told that they had been giving her tomato & garlic everyday. It can be either cook them in meals or make into tomato fruit juices to drink.

    Over the years, now she’s 9 (in primary 3), it seems like she did not had any recurrance of the asthma although during the times where my cousin start to slowly stop her daughter’s medication, the relapse do comes back occassionally and they juz pop the inhaler to her. Now my niece had no problem in swimming and jogging.

    And according to the elders, its better to avoid cold stuffs so that asthma will not be triggered easily and occassionally brewing of tonic or soup for the child is always necessary which is said to boost & strengthen their immunity systems.

    Well, i hope this info helps in some ways.


  13. I was told that they had been giving her tomato & garlic everyday. It can be either cook them in meals or make into tomato fruit juices to drink.

    I wonder if it needs to be a combination of tomato and garlic to be effective. My kids are on garlic vitamin supplement daily and occasionally tomatoes in their meals hence I asked if the two have to be together for it to work effectively.


  14. Lol~ Was ticked off by my cousin for asking if the 2 items need to be combined. They usually spearate it. Garlic was to eat fresh if your kids likes. My cousin’s in-laws method was to smash & mince the garlic into paste form and mix it to the rice or porridge and feed together with other dishes.

    Tomato, (the big round 1) either let my niece eat it on its own (2 per day) or make it into juices with apple or other fruits/vegetables.

    So, if you have new recipe for these 2 items you may like to share as well..


  15. @ Jan

    Thanks for sharing those methods. I myself drink 100plus occasionally when I feel dehydrated even after I drunk a lot of water. We also tried with my kids the foot salt-bath. Though I do not know if there should be a right ratio of rock salt vs water. Another thing we have for our sensitive child is humidifier. It helps.

    My sons have swimming clasess in school once a week and we do bring them to swimming pools on weekends if we have time. They really love water very much and even at home they’re enjoy themselves at the bathtub. Sometimes we stop them. They like trekking and playing at tasek lamah too , but we bring them there very seldom as pollens may trigger his asthma.

    @ Lovellyn

    That tomatoe and garlic combo is new to me. Should that go as juice or by bite (raw)?
    We have tried the garlic with honey, onion with honey (sometimes both mixed) and apple cider vinegar. We also have Cellfood, Manabear, and other vitamins/supplements – but not to give to them everyday as they already loaded with fruits and veggies.

    We are pretty weird in trying many things and to discover the best remedy towards wellness, but of course with precautions and safety measures. We’ve also been to certified acupuncturist and tried those cupping. We’ve been to thai massager, filipino “albolaryo” faith healer, foot reflexologist and chinese herbalist, just to mention few.

    @ Jasmine

    Thanks for the information. We will surely try that Bird Nest.
    We’ve tried vicks at the back and foot with socks. The too strong smell makes him cough. Gentle massage with virgin coconut oil works for him. We are planning to join him to kid’s yoga once Zunic opens a class.


  16. Reader’s Digest July 2008 Update

    ASTHMA RATES in kids are on the rise. Surprisingly, some experts say it may have to do with our sterile lifestyle and overuse of antibiotics.

    Exposure to buys puts the immune system into fighting mode—and that’s a good thing. Kids with the H. pylori bacterium are half as likely to have asthma as those who don’t, according to recent research. Since the invention of antibiotics, this bacterium has been on the decline. The discovery could lead to the development of preventive treatment.

    Until then, replace antibacterial soaps and cleaning products with normal ones. And when possible, avoid giving your child antibiotics.

    I’ll add that when you shop for the “normal” variety of hand wash products, be sure to avoid the non fragrant ones. The article fails to mention asthma triggers from allergens contained in products that include fragrance, a likely trigger of asthma in sensitive children.


  17. I discovered another remedy 5 months ago. Did not want to post earlier just in case it did not work out well for us – myself and my daughter. However, after 5 month’s trial, it’s proven to improve and as a result, helps save me from buying lots of birds nest. Lately, I too suffer from allergy, cold/flu-like symptoms before onset of menstruation post Yasmin birth control (the pill with the most documented side effects, see

    I did not have allergies before and when I went to the doc, he told me allergies can come anytime, at any age and that some bcps effect can weaken our immunity.

    It was during one of my frequent trips to the hospital that I met this aunty who recommended me to try out double-boiled pear juice. The pear can be found from Supa-save or Soon Lee, brown-color skin pear, the size of a grapefruit. Peel off skin, discard the seeds, only get the flesh and double-boil it with rock sugar for 4 hours. The method of double-boiling is the same as for bird-nest.

    For the 1st month, I tried once a week. Subsequently, once every 2 weeks from 3rd month onwards. It helps me with my night cough.

    Rongen, if you are still around here, try that out and keep me posted.


  18. I’ve asthma now I’m 46 years-old, mom of 2 kids, I use Ventolin and now Prednisone tablets but not so often because I’ve glaucoma, I advice not to take so often CORTISONE and yes to be far away from dogs and cats. I think also is emotive, nervous when I’ve troubles I get worse.


  19. I hav severe and I hav to be on a nebuliser 20 hoursba day and for the past 8 asthma attacks I hav stopped breathing. Also I hav an asthma attack nearly everyday an once a week it will leave me hospitalized and once or twice a month I will stop breathing and I hav 6 different inhalers.


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