Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties. It affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood, although it can also develop for the first time in adults.
There’s currently no cure, but there are simple treatments and most people with asthma can live normal lives.
- wheezing (a whistling sound when breathing)
- breathlessness or shortness in breath
- a tight chest – when you inhale it may feel like something is contracting around your chest
Many things can cause these symptoms, but they’re more likely to be asthma if they:
- happen often and keep coming back
- are worse at night and early in the morning
- seem to happen in response to an asthma trigger like exercise or an allergy (such as to pollen or animal fur)
There are a number of things that can trigger an asthmatic response:
- infections like colds and flu
- allergies – such as to pollen, dust mites, animal fur or feathers
- smoke, fumes and pollution
- medicines – particularly anti-inflammatory painkillers like ibuprofen and aspirin
- emotions, including stress, or laughter
- weather – such as sudden changes in temperature, cold air, wind, thunderstorms, heat and humidity
- mould or damp
Asthma can be treated in a number of different ways but speak to a healthcare professional before persuing any of them. These treatments include
- Complementary therapies – such as breathing exercises.
Those suffering from severe asthma may be offered surgery.
Managing your child’s asthma
Day to day life can present itself with challenges but when properly managed young people with asthma can live normal lives.
Things you can do
- Correctly using your inhaler – Asthma UK has information about using your inhaler, and you can ask a nurse or GP for advice if you’re still not sure
- Regularly exercise
- Always check medication before giving it to your child -Some medication is unsuitable for people who suffer from asthma ask a pharmacist, doctor or nurse if you’re not sure.
- Eating healthy – A balanced diet can help to control symptoms
- Receiving vaccinations – It is important your child receives their annual flu shot, speak to your asthma nurse to find out more.
Outside of the home
Children with well controlled Asthma are able to participate normally in school and nursery. However, it is important to make sure your child’s school has all the necessary information about their condition.
Staff at the school should be able to recognise worsening asthma symptoms and know what to do in the event of an attack, particularly staff supervising sport or physical education.
You can find out more information – Asthma UK: asthma at school and nursery
Sometimes your child’s condition can worsen and this can lead to an asthma attack. Following the right plan provided by a health care professional will greatly reduce the risk of this happening.
What are the symptoms of an asthma attack
Symptoms of an asthma attack:
- your symptoms are getting worse (cough, breathlessness, wheezing or tight chest)
- your reliever inhaler (usually blue) is not helping
- you’re too breathless to speak, eat or sleep
- your breathing is getting faster and it feels like you cannot catch your breath
- your peak flow score is lower than normal
- children may also complain of a tummy or chest ache
What to do if your having an asthma attack
If you think you’re having an asthma attack, you should:
- Sit upright (do not lie down) and try to take slow, steady breaths. Try to remain calm, as panicking will make things worse.
- Take 1 puff of your reliever inhaler (usually blue) every 30 to 60 seconds, up to a maximum of 10 puffs.
- Call 999 for an ambulance if you do not have your inhaler with you, you feel worse despite using your inhaler, you do not feel better after taking 10 puffs or you’re worried at any point.
- If the ambulance has not arrived within 15 minutes, repeat step 2.
If your symptoms improve and you do not need to call 999, get an urgent same-day appointment to see a GP or asthma nurse.
Developed for children aged between 6 – 13, the MySpira app includes 8, fun modules, that use augmented reality and gameplay to offer the very best asthma education.