This International Youth Day, Wednesday 12 August, Asthma Australia is asking parents, carers and doctors to consider how they can support young people to treat their asthma.
Across Australia, more than 315,0000 young people of people between 15 and 24 years old have asthma.
Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman said Australia has a high asthma prevalence rate – one in nine people – with most young people having or knowing someone with asthma.
“As a result of the high prevalence many young people, and adults, underestimate the severity of their asthma and may not be managing their symptoms as well as they could be,” she said.
“From what our community has told us, teens with asthma who think they have controlled asthma, usually don’t – so it is important to do regular Asthma Control Tests and have an up-to-date written Asthma Action Plan.
“Doctors are uniquely placed to have a lifelong impact on how a young person lives with asthma and are the ones they listen to over mum or dad, which is a good opportunity to set in good self-management practices.”
Teenagers with uncontrolled asthma are shown to be twice as likely to have a mental health condition which could have a broader impact on their health and development.
“It is good to be aware of this and enquire with young asthma patients about how they are feeling about their asthma,” Ms Goldman said.
“One good consult with a doctor could help improve the health and quality of life for a young person – and even save their life.”
Twenty-three-year-old university student, Eloise Robertson, had asthma as a child and at 18 was diagnosed with Brittle asthma and Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) a year later.
“I spent my 19th, 20th, and 21st birthdays in a hospital bed,” Eloise said.
“I wish I could say I took everything in my stride and achieved great success but my health completely ruled my life, I couldn’t sleep, I could barely walk, and I lost interest in a lot of my hobbies and studies.
“I knew I needed to make a change, so I moved back home and transferred universities. Struggling with day-to-day life had taken a huge toll on my mental health and I needed the support of my family and dogs.
“This was the best decision I could have made. Now my asthma is under control and I am maintaining a distinction average at university and enjoying life again.”
For up to date training on asthma, GPs and allied health professionals can complete accredited ThinkGP asthma training modules, free of charge, available here.