Asthma is one of a number of chronic diseases that affects Australians, with studies showing one in ten Australians suffers from the condition.
That’s around 2 million people.
For people suffering with asthma, learning how best to manage the condition and avoid asthmatic episodes is vital, and can mean the difference between a traumatic asthma experience and an educated one. However when children have asthma it’s their parents who need to step up, educating them on the condition and how they should deal with it both now and in the future.
Treating and managing asthma in children comes with its own unique challenges and obstacles. Parents need to carefully balance the seriousness of the condition with the realities of childhood. Kids can’t be protected from everything, and you won’t always be there to help them. That’s why it’s important to help your child to help themselves when it comes to asthma.
1. Educate Them Properly On The Condition
Whether or not they like it, kids diagnosed with asthma will be spending time every day managing their condition. This means they need to be fully educated on what it means to be an asthmatic, how asthma affects their body, and what is involved in treating the condition. When children are small they may not understand the entirety of their condition, but as they grow it’s important to keep them informed about what is happening to their body during an asthma attack, things that might set them off and how they can get through attacks.
2. Identify And Remember Their Triggers
Not everyone with asthma is triggered by the same things, so it’s important to start compiling a list of environmental and behavioural triggers for your child. For some children, exercise is a trigger, for others dust, second-hand smoke or cat hair can set them off. In some it’s a type of pollen or seed that may only be thick in the air at certain times of year, or the particles of cut grass after a lawn mowing. In any case, knowing your child’s triggers gives you an advantage in being able to manage and control the impact that asthma as on your life
3. Don’t Shy Away From Exercise
As exercise is one of the biggest triggers for asthma in children, many parents feel that they need to stop their child from being involved in sports to avoid asthma attacks. In reality keeping your child away from exercise could worsen their condition. Maintaining a level of fitness is paramount in keeping asthma at bay, and sports are an integral part of the childhood experience, not to be missed. Regular exercise improves fitness, endurance and strength, all of which help your child in the long term to deal with their condition. If they struggle with running or ball sports, consider a sport that’s easier on their body like swimming, water polo or aqua fitness.
4. Inform People Straight Away
As a parent we understand that we won’t always be on hand for our children. With them being at school or participating in sports or social events, there will be times when we aren’t around. That’s why it’s so important to inform people of your child asthma diagnosis. Their awareness of the condition means they’ll be able to act quickly if your child suffers an asthma attack. The people you should inform include teachers at the school, the principal, substitutes and the physical education teacher. Also make sure you tell their coach, parents of their friends with whom they socialise (particularly for sleep overs etc), so they are also aware.
5. Have An Asthma Action Plan
As soon as your child is diagnosed with asthma your doctor will probably start talking to you about an Asthma Action Plan. This is a document that you put together with the help of your doctor and your child that helps to control and manage their asthma. The plan lays out the specifics of your child’s condition, including the things that are individual to them such as their treatment plan for mild, severe and emergency asthma, the medications they’re taking, and their triggers. You can find an template for a plan here from Asthma Australia. Put it together with the help of your doctor, and ensure your child always has it with them.