Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties. Asthma is caused by swelling (inflammation) of the breathing tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. This makes the tubes highly sensitive, so they temporarily narrow.
It affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood, although it can also develop for the first time in adults.
There are four simple steps (or asks) which can help children and young people to manage their asthma:
- 1. Get an asthma action plan in place
A written asthma action plan drawn up between a healthcare professional and patient means you are four times less likely to have to go to hospital for your asthma.
A personalised asthma action plan (PAAP) will have the information on that you need to look after your asthma well.
- What medication you need to take daily and when to use your reliever inhaler
- What to do if asthma symptoms are getting worse
- What to do if you are having an asthma attack.
Your doctor or asthma nurse should help you fill in your plan, you can download a copy on the Asthma and Lung UK website and take this with you to your asthma appointments. Young People over 12 might like to use an adult asthma action plan instead.
You should share your asthma plan with your teachers, carers, extended family, or anyone looking after you.
- 2. Understand how to use inhalers correctly
Less than three-quarters of children and young people know how to use their inhaler. Poor inhaler technique means patients don’t get the full benefit of their asthma medication.
- 3. Schedule an asthma review – every year and after every attack
You should have an asthma review with your doctor or asthma nurse every 12 months and after an asthma attack. Remember to take any asthma inhalers and spacers you use to your appointment, so your doctor or nurse can review your inhaler technique.
An asthma review by an appropriately trained clinician after every attack helps to work out what went wrong so you can adjust your asthma management plan as needed.
- 4. Consider air pollution and its impact on lung health
Indoor and outdoor air pollution can trigger your asthma. Thinking about air pollution as part of your asthma management can help reduce the risk of asthma attacks.
I am well
I am having asthma symptoms
I am having an asthma attack
Resources for children
Click on the images below to find out more about these adventurous alternative asthma information booklets.
- Help your child stay active
As long as your child is managing their asthma well, research shows exercise can cut your child’s risk of asthma symptoms. Most children with asthma can enjoy PE, after-school clubs and other activities along with everyone else. Find out more about keeping active and check out the Let's Move Lincolnshire website for ways to get active locally.
Regular exercise is good for your child’s asthma because it:
- improves how well your child’s lungs work so they have more stamina and get less out of breath
- boosts your child’s immune system so they’re less likely to get coughs and colds which will make their asthma worse
- improves your child’s mood and self-esteem which can influence how well they manage their asthma
- helps your child feel more confident about their asthma, and what they can achieve.
- Smoking and asthma
Smoking, or breathing in someone else’s smoke, means you’re at risk of asthma symptoms and an asthma attack.
Babies or young children who are around people smoking take more smoke into their lungs than adults.
And because they're still growing, and their immune system isn't fully developed yet, they're at greater risk from the toxins given out in the smoke.
They’ll be more likely to have chest infections and wheezing and coughing. And could be more at risk of an asthma attack. They’ll also be more likely to go on to develop asthma as they get older.
Help to quit smoking is available in Lincolnshire from One You Lincolnshire, if you are over 12 years old and smoke tobacco.
Their 12-week stop smoking programme means you’ll be 4 times more likely to quit, for good. They’ll look at your history, help you set goals and offer follow-up support and Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). https://www.oneyoulincolnshire.org.uk/pathway/be-smoke-free
- Air pollution and asthma
If you have asthma, it’s important to be aware of air pollution levels and know what to do if the levels are high. The British Thoracic Society recommend using the DEFRA air quality forecast to check the air quality in a specific area. There is also useful advice on what to do if the air pollution level is higher than normal, for example reducing the amount of strenuous activity you do that day or walking a to school by a different route to help prevent bringing on asthma symptoms.
- Damp, mould and asthma
Damp and mould in your house can make you asthma symptoms worse. Mould and damp are usually caused by excessive moisture, which can be from leaking pipes or roofs, rising damp (water than comes up from the ground), or condensation. Condensation is caused by water moisture from inside the home coming into contact with a colder surface, such as a window or wall. The water drops (or condensation) may then soak into the wallpaper or paintwork or even plasterwork and attract black mould to grow on its surface.
Condensation mainly occurs during the colder months, whether it is rainy or dry outside, and is usually found in corners and north facing walls, on or near windows; also in areas of little air circulation such as behind wardrobes and beds, especially when they are pushed up against external walls.
To prevent damp and mould repair any leaks as soon as possible or if you are rented accommodation let your landlord know.
Prevent condensation by:-
- Keeping your home well aired (opening windows) and warm
- When cooking keep lids on your pans and use the extractor fan if you have one
- Use extractor fans in the bathroom when having a shower or bath
- Dry washing outside whenever possible
- Don’t dry clothes on radiators. This will make your boiler work harder to heat your house and cost almost as much as using a tumble dryer, whilst creating a lot of condensation
- If you have to dry clothing indoors and don’t have a tumble dryer, place clothes on a drying rack in a room where a window can be opened slightly and keep the door closed
- No drying rack? Put your clothes on hangers and hang from a curtain pole above a slightly opened window
- If using a tumble direr make sure the vent goes outside
- Leave gaps between furniture and walls so that air can circulate
Training links for professionals
Do you work with or care for children and young people with asthma?
If so, you are now able to access free training to improve your knowledge and help to care for children and young people with asthma in the best way possible.
- Children and young people with asthma | Training links for professionals
You are now able to access free training to improve your knowledge and help to care for children and young people with asthma in the best way possible.
The training is split into four tiers; the first tier targets a range of people working closely with children and young people; such as those based in schools and out of school clubs.
Tiers two, three and four have been designed for healthcare professionals.
NHS England has been working with a national working group for training and education and the training and capabilities are now hosted by Health Education England.
Currently the UK has some of highest death rates in Europe for childhood asthma and outcomes are worse for those living in the most deprived areas.
NHS England is committed to improving outcomes for children and has published the National bundle of care for children and young people with asthma to support asthma care. Progress depends on improving the knowledge and skills of everyone who cares for children with asthma.
This training provides a clear structure for both health and non-healthcare professionals to understand what knowledge they need. Asthma (Children and young people) - elearning for healthcare (e-lfh.org.uk).
In addition to this there is some learning around air pollution which is also a deliverable for children and young people asthma Clean Air Knowledge Hub for the Health Sector (actionforcleanair.org.uk)
Asthma training for people who may work with children and young people but not directly involved in their asthma care. The free Tier 1 training is available through Health Education Supporting Children's Health and Young People with Asthma (educationforhealth.org)
Please share with colleagues who may have staff that work with Children & Young People.
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