Loli-O’s and Kids: Puts the Treat in Breathing Treatments

Have you ever received a breathing treatment, either in an ambulance or in the hospital?  It can be uncomfortable and you might be a little hesitant if you haven’t done one before.  Now imagine you’re a child…

A lot of children in the pre-hospital setting as well as clinics, offices, homes and urgent care facilities tend to become very anxious and uneasy when you try and place a mask over their face or get them to hold a tasteless plastic mouthpiece in their mouth to receive breathing medications. Anxiety causes symptoms to increase and that is certainly where you do not want to go.  Loli-O’s helps children from the ages of 3+ receive breathing treatments while enjoying a sugar free and dental friendly lollipop. Using Loli-O’s allows the child to focus on something that is comforting and enjoyable other than “I’m getting medicine”.  And if used as directed, it delivers the medication at nearly the same equivalence as a mouthpiece nebulizer with ZERO anxiety and a happy kiddo in the process because let’s face it…… kids love lollipops!

I came up with the concept that is now Loli-O’s while transporting a 4 year old girl from a rural hospital to a metropolitan hospital in Nashville, TN.  I am a 23 year veteran paramedic and have run across this scenario many times in my career.  The child was ordered by the physician to receive continuous breathing medication during the over 1 hour transport.  The child was already very anxious because I was a stranger and she was scared not knowing what was going to happen.  During the transport, she would become more excited and upset during the treatment attempts, which in turn caused the shortness of breath to increase, her heart rate to increase and the oxygen level to decrease – the exact opposite of where we wanted to be. Despite many attempts to administer the treatments as ordered, I was unable to effectively give the treatment.

After arriving at the receiving hospital, care was released to the staff and the report was given.  The staff was attempting to give the breathing treatment as we were leaving but were having the same problems I had faced in the back of the ambulance.  After leaving the hospital we stopped at a convenience store to get a soft drink for the ride back home.  While standing in line to pay, I noticed an older gentleman with what I assumed was his grandson standing at the counter.  The little boy was about the same age as the little girl I had just transported.  While at the counter, the little boy grabbed a whole handful of lollipops and put them on the counter.  The grandfather asked him “so you want a lollipop huh?” The boy jumped up and down and said “yes yes yes!”  That was it!  Kids love candy, especially lollipops!  There is something comforting to a child about having a sweet treat that I knew could work with helping receive breathing treatments.

I jotted down some rough drawings and came up with a plan.  I bought a candy kit at Hobby Lobby and some cpvc fittings from Lowe’s and went to work.  In just a couple of hours I had a working prototype right there in my kitchen.  I shared this idea and prototype of mine with a long time physician friend and he was just as convinced as I that we had something worth pursuing here.  3 years later, our team consists of 4 top physicians as well as an accomplished ACNP (acute care nurse practitioner). Loli-O’s is ready to help children get that treatment they need with a little less anxiety and a whole lot more fun.  We like to say that with Loli-O’s we put the “treat” in treatment.  Loli-O’s uses lollipops that are sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, have no added dyes and are manufactured in a peanut free facility.  In fact, the lollipops are considered “dental friendly” and the best part is they taste amazing and come in 5 different flavors.

Until Loli-O’s, there have basically only been 2 delivery methods for breathing medications.  One being a mask that is strapped to the child’s face and the other is a plastic mouthpiece that the child has to hold in their mouth while they are breathing the medication. Loli-O’s is not trying to replace these devices because they are very effective for children who are already used to receiving treatments or are old enough to understand the reasoning behind that particular treatment device.  But for the child who has to have a breathing treatment for the first time, or who might be scared and anxious, or who is younger, or for any reason at all, Loli-O’s is here to help the child, the parent and the provider.  We have spoken with countless EMS professionals, ER physicians, pediatricians, nurses and respiratory therapists and have all concluded what we have thought from the beginning…….  Loli-O’s can help!

Loli-O’s is set to hit the consumer market in July 2017.  It already has commitments from EMS agencies and emergency departments in our area and will eventually make its way to ambulances, emergency departments, acute care clinics and pediatrician offices all over the US.  In time, our goal is to see Lolio’s become a go-to among the already established nebulizer options.  Another tool in the toolbox is always a good thing.

HEALTHFUL HINTS:

  • Anxiety with children during doctor visits is all too common. Children, especially at a younger age have certain “comforts”.  A parent/guardian is of course a big one but there are other comforts that can help make that trip to the doctor a little easier on the child as well as mom and dad.
    • First start off simple and if possible bring that stuffed animal or action figure that your child loves to play with. You would be surprised what a little “toy time” can do to alleviate some of that anxiety.
    • Next, let the child hold the stethoscope and let them hear their own breathing and heartbeat! I’ve seen more smiles from kids who hear their own ticker working than you could imagine.
    • Unfortunately, sometimes at the doctor the child has to get a treatment or injection that is either frightening or painful. In these circumstances, I’ve found that a little soft talking and explanation of why they are receiving it is very helpful.
  • There are many respiratory conditions that effect children. From simple occasional allergies, to bronchitis, to asthma, to cystic fibrosis and etc., not every child will have the same symptoms or the same diagnosis which only proves that just 1 treatment device/medication is not the answer. Pay attention to your doctor and more importantly your child.  Children have the ability to compensate very well when it comes to illness and injury but when their compensating mechanisms have run their course, children can and will become severely ill very quickly. When it comes to respiratory problems, there are a few tell-tale signs that let you know that your child is getting worse.
    • The first would be to watch your child’s posture. If you find your child setting uncharacteristically straight or in a position known as “tripod” where the hands are propped on the knees and leaning forward, then this would indicate a more severe respiratory distress.
    • Also watch for flaring of the nostrils. This indicates a forceful respiratory pattern that the child involuntarily does in order to move air in and out of the lungs.
    • You can also see what is referred to as “retractions”. This is where the child is having so much difficulty that the muscles between the ribs and other areas of the chest are sucking inward with inspiration.  This is usually a sign of severe respiratory distress.
  • As proactive parents and guardians, it’s a good idea to be prepared for health situations that could arise.
    • Have your child’s general and medical information written down on an index card and kept in a safe location.
    • Include your child’s name, date of birth, any allergies to medications, any current prescription medications they are taking and a thorough medical history. Having this card on hand will help so much if you should have to call an ambulance or if your child is being taken by someone other than yourself to receive medical treatment. When your child is severely ill is not the time you want to have to remember these important details.

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