World Asthma Day: Advice For Parents On Managing Asthma In Children

One in 11 kids in the UK have asthma.

03/05/2016 12:36


More than one million children in the UK (that's one in 11) are currently receiving treatment for asthma, according to Asthma UK

When properly managed with effective medication asthma should result in no major ongoing symptoms in kids. 

We've rounded up some important pieces of advice for parents from charities and a GP on how to manage children's asthma. 

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1. Ensure you have an up-to-date asthma plan.

"One of the best ways to look after your child’s asthma and cut their risk of an asthma attack is to make sure they’re using an up-to-date written asthma action plan," Asthma UK advises.

"Your child’s asthma plan will tell you when they need to take their medicines and what to do when their asthma gets worse."

An asthma plan will be created by your GP and will be personalised to your child's own triggers, symptoms and medication. 

You can see an example of a child's asthma plan here

2. Have frequent asthma reviews. 

Children are advised to have an asthma review with their GP or asthma nurse once every six months, as recommended by the British Thoracic Society (BTS).

During the review, parents should ensure they talk through their child's asthma action plan and check their medicine is being taken correctly and if they need new inhalers - as they have sell-by dates. 

Dr Helen Webberley, dedicated GP for, said children should have more frequent check ups if their circumstances change.

"Parents and guardians should take their child for a check up if there is a new pet or a new house or environment," she told The Huffington Post UK.

"Look out for worsening symptoms, which include exercise-induced coughs and coughing at night."

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3. Consider if your child needs to use a 'spacer'.

"Younger children should always use their inhalers together with a spacer device," advised Dr Webberley.

A 'spacer' is an add-on device, making it easier for kids to inhale the medication, helping to get the medicine into their lungs.

"In reality, inhalers are only effective if the medication gets deep down into the lungs and co-ordinating this, without the aid of a spacer, can be difficult," she continued.

"The action of exhaling, while activating the inhaler at the same time as inhaling deeply, takes a lot of practise.

"The spacer device provides a holding chamber for the medication so the child can inhale it properly."

4. Ensure you and your child know the symptoms of their asthma. 

Asthma symptoms are caused by inflammation and narrowing of the small airways in the lungs, making it difficult to get air in/out of the lungs, according to Allergy UK.

The narrowing of the airways often causes a tight chest, wheezy breathing and coughing, which children with asthma experience, particularly at night. 

"Remember that you know your child best and the typical signs and symptoms of wheeze and shortness of breath are not always obvious," Dr Webberley advised.

"If you are worried about your child displaying new or frequent symptoms then take them for a check up."

Asthma UK said parents should also work with their children to make sure they understand the symptoms of their asthma and triggers, such as pets, change in weather or exercise. 

The charity's 'My Asthma pack for children under 12' comes with a symptom checker, encouraging children to keep an eye on their own asthma symptoms every day.

5. Always have an inhaler on hand. 

Allergy UK advises parents should always ensure they are carrying around an inhaler when with their child, and their child should be trained to know it must go with them whenever they go out.

"Have a specific place in the house for the inhaler, where everyone knows it is kept, and always keep it there," the charity advises.

"Then, if your child needs the medicine, both you and they know where the medication is. Make sure this place is easily accessible, but out of reach of other young children.

"Always label your child’s inhaler and consider a protective bag/cover if they are old enough to carry the inhaler themselves.

"Many children keep them in their pencil cases, and some companies specialise in small carriers which can be age appropriate."

6. In event of an asthma attack 

"If you are at all concerned that your child is having an asthma attack then you should use the reliever inhaler at double dose and get in touch with your GP or the emergency services as soon as possible," Dr Webberley advised.

"Delays cost lives."

For more information on managing your child's asthma, call the Asthma UK helpline.


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