A NORTH-EAST schoolboy runs the risk of a life-threatening asthma attack every day because of his long list of allergies – including his own hair follicles.
Junior Rucroft, seven, lives in Darlington with his mother, Paula Hopps and his five brothers and sisters.
The Skerne Park Academy pupil has been admitted to hospital more than 50 times.
Junior and his family are using World Asthma Day on Tuesday (May 6) to raise awareness of his condition and highlight a new breath test the youngster is taking to help control his condition.
Ms Hopps said: “I’ve had phone calls from school because when he gets a bit stressed while he’s doing his work.
“He runs his hands through his hair. Then, when he touches his face, it swells up.”
The breath test, called a FeNO (Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide) test, is carried out during Junior’s regular check-ups at the James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough.
Junior was first diagnosed with asthma and allergies at the age of one after a kiss from his mother almost killed him.
Ms Hopps said: “I’d been eating a bag of nuts and I kissed him a short time afterwards.
“Suddenly, his face swelled up and he couldn’t breathe. It was terrifying and I didn’t have a clue why it was happening.
“I didn’t automatically put two and two together. The paramedics said they got there just in time. They gave him an adrenaline injection and oxygen until he got to hospital.
“He was diagnosed with asthma pretty much straight after that as he kept getting breathless and having to go back to hospital.
“His doctors also did allergy tests on him and found he’s allergic to pretty much everything – nuts, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, horses, grass, house dust mites, pollen, and even human hair fibre.”
It all means life is a day-to-day struggle for Junior and his family.
Ms Hopps added: “His allergies bring on asthma attacks, but he also might get random attacks if he’s running up the stairs or if he’s getting emotional about something.
“If he’s happy and laughing or if he’s crying, that can trigger an attack.
“He’s been admitted to hospital well over 50 times. Sometimes, we might just be there for a check-up and his oxygen levels are worryingly low, so we end up having to stay in overnight.”
Junior has also missed a lot of school because of being poorly and attending routine appointments every week.
Ms Hopps, who is constantly dusting, cleaning and washing to make sure there aren’t any dust mites in the house, said: “He has got quite far behind because he’s been off so much, but all that’s important to us is trying to keep him as healthy as possible.”
The FeNO tests have recently been recommended for use within the NHS, although forward-thinking medics at James Cook have been carrying them out for a number of years.