• Asthma is more common in childhood.
  • Poorly controlled asthmatic children will have restriction of hobbies, sports and playing.

Up to 5% of children have asthma

  • Asthma can cause considerable school absenteeism
  • 1.1 million children in the UK receive asthma treatment
  • 40 children die each year as a result of asthma
  • Peak age of onset is 5 years
  • A child with asthma presents with their first respiratory episode before the age of two.

Risk factors

  • Genetic - 40% of children with asthma will have a family history of atopy (including asthma, hay fever and or eczema)
  • Infection - viruses, wheezy bronchitis and RSV bronchiolitis
  • Passive smoking

Diagnosing asthma in children

Asthma symptoms in children are the same as in adults, but are more difficult to diagnose as children have difficulty in describing thier discomfort.
  • A typical crisis with wheezing - can be associated with exercise, upper respiratory tract infection, allergy to pets, food, dust ......etc
  • Dry cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Night time cough
  • Cough and or wheeze during or after exercise
  • Episodes of recurrent bronchiolitis
  • A child who suffers from more than 2 to 3 episodes of bronchiolitis before the of age 2 should be closely monitored for asthma symptoms and receive the same treatment and support as that of a child with asthma, especially if there is a family history of atopy in the family.
  • Episodes of cough or recurrent bronchitis
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue associated with any of the above symptoms
  • Shortness of breath on exertion.

If allergies are suspected as a cause for the asthma symptoms then an allergic assessment can be carried out.

Making a diagnosis as early as possible

  • Start treatment as soon as possible, do not delay for any length of time.
  • Most children grow out of their asthma. The proportion of children that continue to have frequent episodes of asthma as a child are likely to perisit into adulthood. The aim is therefore for all children to be symptom free day and night.

Children that are closely monitored lead a normal life

  • They participate in all activities including sport
  • Have less time off sick from school

What to do if your child has an acute asthma attack?

Some well-informed parents know how to treat an acute attack. Recognising the symptoms and initiating treatment early can prevent worsening symptoms whilst you are seeking urgent medical attention.
  • Firstly remain calm and promptly give their blue inhaler the bronchodilator. Use a spacer to deliver the inhaler and give 10 - 15 puffs shaking in between each dose
  • Your child should avoid talking or attempting to move around.
  • Call for 999 for help or go to your local accident and emergency department or GP surgery.

Sports and asthmatic children

Always inform the teacher or sports instructor and always ensure you child carries with them their bronchodilator medication.
  • Take 2 puffs of bronchodilator mediation prior to exercise. This opens the up the airways and prevents wheeze and restriction during sporting activity.

Asthma and School

It is recommended for parents to meet the teaching staff at the beginning of the school year and ensure they are made aware of their children's asthma diagnosis. This facilitates a greater awareness amongst staff about asthma and prevents any confusion over the need for children with asthma to carry with them their medication at all times.

Remember people with asthma should be free of symptoms day and night and need to be able to access their medication at all times.
  • Tell school if there is a change in your child's asthma management and treatment.
  • Ensure school has a spare spacer and inhalers and that they are labelled with your child's name.
  • Draw up a management action plan with your GP or practice nurse. Let school have a copy. Management plans help engage children to take control of their asthma and look after themselves.

For more information about asthma and self management see link below

Asthma and Allergy

Over 80% of asthma cases in children are caused by an allergy.
To learn more about allergies:

link 1
link 2
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