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Helping your child with asthma

There are several ways you can help manage your child's asthma.

Get them an asthma action plan

Ask your doctor or practice nurse for an asthma action plan for your child. This will tell you what to do if your child's asthma is getting worse.

Give copies of the plan to your child's school and to other people who look after your child. That way, everyone will know what to do in an emergency.

Visit their healthcare team

Visit your asthma team (your GP, practice nurse and pharmacist) regularly. They will review your child's medications and teach them how to use their inhalers properly so they get the most benefit from them. Tell them if your child is getting symptoms more often, is using their reliever most days or several times a day, or if their asthma is stopping them from doing things.

Help them use their inhalers

Find ways to help your child remember to use their inhalers when they're supposed to. If they're too young to do it themselves, you'll have to remember to do it for them. Check your child's spacer and inhalers regularly. A spacer needs cleaning once a week and replacing once a year or every six months if used daily.

Help them stay active

Encourage your child to keep active. Physical activity improves how well their lungs work, which can improve asthma. If your child’s asthma is stopping them from being active, talk to your doctor about treatment to improve this.

Avoid cigarette smoke

It's very important that your child is not exposed to cigarette smoke at home or in the car. The best option for your child is for all smokers in the family to quit smoking or at least only smoke well away from the child. There is advice about quitting smoking on How to become smokefree.

Reduce infections

Viral infections like coughs and colds can make asthma worse. It's almost impossible to avoid viral infections but some things can reduce them, such as washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, being smokefree and keeping your home warm and dry.

The flu is a more serious viral infection. You can reduce your child's chance of catching the flu by getting a flu vaccination every year. If your child has to use an asthma preventer, a flu vaccination will be free. It's worth considering vaccinating your whole family.

Keep your home healthy

A cold, damp or mouldy house may worsen or trigger your child's asthma. Keeping your home warm & dry has information about subsidies to help with the cost of heating and insulating your home.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation has information about keeping your home healthy, including how to deal with condensation and dampness and keep warm.

Avoid triggers

A trigger is something that makes asthma worse or brings on an asthma attack. Triggers are different for everyone but common ones include animal fur, emotions such as being upset, colds and other viruses, dust mites, exercise, pollen, moulds, and chemicals and sprays used around the home.

You may be able to identify your child's triggers by keeping an asthma symptom diary.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation has information about common asthma triggers.

If your child has an allergy to dust mites, try using dust mite-proof covers for their mattress and pillows. You can buy these from CanBreathe.

Consider joining the St John Supporter Scheme

If you child has frequent or very bad attacks of asthma, or if you're worrying about the cost of calling an ambulance, consider subscribing to the St John Supporter Scheme then you will not have to pay for ambulance call-outs.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Asthma medications for children

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2021.

Page reference: 6000

Review key: HIASC-12638