Take Asthma Seriously

 

Asthma is a common condition but should be taken seriously.

 

Asthma is a common condition among children. It affects 1 in 11 children in UK. It can appear at any age, but the symptoms often start during childhood. At the moment there’s no cure for asthma, but with the right treatment it can usually be controlled easily. It is a common myth that a child will outgrow their asthma. In fact, 95% of children with persistent asthma still have symptoms into adulthood.

Click the links below to find out more about the triggers, symptoms and treatments for asthma. 

Asthma can kill: take it seriously. boy coughing.
Asthma can kill: take it seriously. boy coughing.

If your child has asthma, their airways are inflamed and more sensitive than usual. When airways are irritated, the body reacts in 3 ways:

  • the muscles around the airways tighten, making the airways narrower
  • the lining of the airways become inflamed and swollen, making the airways narrower
  • the airways may start to produce more mucus than normal, making the airways narrower

These reactions make it harder for air to get into and out of the lungs. This causes the symptoms of asthma:

  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • chest tightness

When these symptoms flare up, people often call this an asthma attack.

Asthma attacks can be brought on by a number of triggers, including things in the environment that make symptoms worse. They don’t cause asthma, but if your child already has it, they can make the symptoms worse. Common asthma triggers include:

  • Allergies - iI your child is allergic to something, their allergy could trigger their asthma symptoms. Common things that cause an allergic reaction are certain foods, pollen, mould, house dust mites, pets.
  • Irritants – These are things that irritate the airways when they are breathed in, such as tobacco smoke, air pollution and car fumes. A major cause of severe asthma is cigarette smoke, this includes both 1st and 2nd hand smoking.
  • Exercise – Regular exercise is important for good health and you should encourage your child to be active. Some children may find that physical activity makes their asthma worse, particularly in cold weather. If that happens, they should have a rest, take their reliever inhaler and wait until they feel better before starting again. If exercise is a trigger for your child, they can use their reliever before exercising.
  • Colds and flu – These infections of the airways are common triggers.
  • Stress and strong emotions – Symptoms get worse at times of stress and strong emotions. Children and teenagers experience stronger emotions than adults, and these may act as an asthma trigger. This is less likely to happen if your child’s asthma is well controlled.
  • Weather – cold weather can bring on asthma as well as very hot weather, damp weather and thunderstorms.

 

Not all children have the same asthma symptoms and they can vary from episode to episode in the same child. Possible signs and symptoms of asthma in children include:

  • Frequent coughing spells, which can happen during play, at night, or while laughing or crying
  • A chronic cough (which may be the only symptom)
  • Less energy during play
  • Rapid breathing (from time to time)
  • Complaint of chest tightness or chest hurting
  • Wheezing - a whistling sound when breathing in or out
  • Retractions - seesaw motions in the chest from labored breathing
  • Shortness of breath, loss of breath
  • Tightened neck and chest muscles
  • Feeling weak or tired

Based on your child's history and the severity of asthma, his or her doctor will develop a care plan, called an "Asthma action plan." The asthma action plan describes when and how your child should use asthma medications, what to do when asthma gets worse, and when to seek emergency care for your child. Make sure you understand this plan and ask your child's doctor any questions you may have.

Your child's asthma action plan plays a key part in successfully controlling their asthma. It should be reviewed annually.  Keep it handy to remind you of your child's daily asthma management plan, as well as to guide you when your child develops asthma symptoms

In addition to following your child's asthma action plan, make sure that exposure to asthma triggers is limited, and preferably avoided.

 

Asthma is usually treated by using an inhaler, a small device that lets you breathe in medicines.

The main types are:

  • reliever inhalers – used when needed to quickly relieve asthma symptoms for a short time
  • preventer inhalers – used every day to prevent asthma symptoms occurring

Some people also need to take tablets.

If at any time you are concerned about your child’s asthma - make an appointment for an asthma review.

Managing your child’s asthma is a whole family affair, make sure everyone takes it seriously. Know what symptoms to look out for and how to treat them. If your child is old enough, you can teach them to recognise their own symptoms too.

It is especially important to make sure you and your child understand how they should use their inhaler and spacer. Ask the practice nurse or a pharmacist to check your child’s inhaler technique.

Your child’s asthma action plan should be shared with their nursery, school, childminder or anyone who looks after them.

Get to know what triggers your child’s asthma – it could be cold weather, exercise, or pet hair; by avoiding them you can help prevent flare ups. Do not smoke around your child. 

 

MySpira App

MySpira is the world's first augmented reality asthma training game developed in collaboration with healthcare professionals.

The MySpira app aims to improve the training of correct inhaler technique, using a combination of augmented reality and game play and can be downloaded on any iOS or Android device.

The app is suitable for children aged 6 -13 and includes the following features:


◆ Play mini-games

◆ Interact with objects in augmented reality

◆ Learn how to put together a standard metered dose inhaler (MDI) with a spacer

◆ Earn badges for completing challenges

◆ Collect cards to remind you of the important facts

◆ Learn how to use an inhaler correctly

 

 

The app is available to download for free until 1st April 2020.

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or visit myspira.co.uk to download the app

 

Never ignore worsening symptoms, for example coughing at night or using the reliever inhaler more than 2 or 3 times a week.

The symptoms of an asthma attack can take 6 to 48 hours to become serious. Spotting and treating them early could help avoid a serious attack and admission to hospital.

 

Lots more information for you and your child can be found at:

asthma.org.uk

NHS Choices