Managing asthma can be really hard and flare-ups can be scary. But we know that good asthma management can mean less asthma flare-ups and hospital visits for you.
Learn more about explaining asthma to children here.
To help you and your parents and carers, here’s six asthma basics that you need to know. Following these steps will help you keep your asthma under control all year round.
Visit your doctor for an asthma review
Visit your doctor every 3-6 months for an asthma review. You might need to go more if your doctor has recently changed your medicine, or you’ve had a flare-up.
At your review, mum, dad or your carer will talk to your doctor about:
- Your current level of asthma control
- Your asthma medicines
- Your inhaler technique. E.g., is it tricky for you?
- Updating your Asthma Action Plan
- Your asthma triggers, allergies and hay fever
- Your flu vaccine
- Your other asthma questions
To get ready for your appointment, you might need to start an ‘asthma diary’. An asthma diary is where you write down your symptoms, how much medicine you took, and what triggered you. It could be in a notebook, on a calendar or just a piece of paper.
You could also help your parent or carer fill out an Asthma Review Worksheet. This will help them remember what to ask your doctor about.
Get a written Asthma Action Plan from your doctor
A written Asthma Action Plan is one of the most important things you need if you have asthma.
You need a written Asthma Action Plan at home, school and to give to anyone else who looks after you. This might be your grandparents, sports coach, outside school hours carer or Scout leader.
An Asthma Action Plan is your instructions on how to manage your asthma, and what to do if you do have a flare-up or asthma attack.
Follow a written Asthma Action Plan for:
- Better controlled asthma
- Less asthma flare-ups
- Less days off school
- Reduced reliever medication use
- Less hospital visits
Preventer – take it every day, even when feeling well
You may have a preventer puffer as well as a reliever. Often this is orange but there are lots of different colours it might be. Its job is to calm down your lungs, so they aren’t so sensitive to your triggers and make the airways less red and swollen inside. Your doctor might prescribe a preventer if your asthma symptoms are really bad or happen a lot.
If you have a preventer, you usually need to take it every day to help your lungs cope with all the things that might bother them. It takes around 2-4 weeks to work properly, so it’s not a good idea to skip it once you’re feeling better. Otherwise, the redness and sensitivity can come back. Ask your doctor if you aren’t sure how long to keep using it for.
It’s important you always use a spacer with your preventer puffer. This stops your mouth or throat from getting sore. After using a preventer, always rinse your mouth, gargle, and spit. This also helps to avoid side-effects from medicine left in your mouth.
Learn more about asthma preventers here.
Keep an eye on your asthma control and triggers
You might find your level of asthma control changes with the seasons and what triggers you are exposed to, such as colds, flus and pollen. Learn about other possible triggers here.
If you have experienced any of the following in the last 4 weeks, there may be room for improvement in your asthma control.
- Daytime asthma symptoms more than 2 days per week
- Need to use your reliever more than 2 days per week
- Feeling like you can’t do sports or exercise like your friends due to asthma symptoms
- Having asthma symptoms during the night or when you first wake up
If you have not been feeling well, make sure you tell your parent or carer so they can take you to your doctor and help you get better.
Use a spacer and check your technique
If your asthma inhaler is a puffer, you need to use a spacer. Spacers help your medicine get down into your lungs where it is needed.
Some children need their parent or carer to help them use their puffer and spacer. If you think you are ready to try using it yourself, ask your parent or carer to have the doctor or pharmacist check that you can do it properly first.
If you can’t afford a spacer, call our Asthma Educators on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) to see how they can help.
Most children under 4 will need to use a mask with their spacer, until they learn to seal their lips properly.
Learn the steps of Asthma First Aid
We’ve recently created some brand-new first aid posters to make it easier to know what to do in an emergency. There are now separate posters for those of you who use a blue/grey reliever, or one of the dual-purpose relievers.
Download the instructions you need here: https://asthma.org.au/treatment-diagnosis/asthma-first-aid/
Note: These are generic instructions only. Your doctor may give you personalised instructions on your written Asthma Action Plan to follow instead.
Note for Parents
You’re doing an amazing job as a parent or carer to be educating yourself and your child(ren) on their asthma, so they know what to do. You can Book a Call with our Asthma Support and Education Team if you have any questions about your child’s asthma management.