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Asthma - managing your asthma

asthma; puffer; reliever; preventive; preventer; inhaler; spacer ;

Contents

This topic tells you how to manage asthma.  To find out what asthma is, see the topic Asthma - what is asthma?.

So you've got asthma?

Finding out you've got asthma is not the end of the world!

Lots of people have asthma. If you learn all about it and how to manage it you can do almost anything that you set your mind to.

Have you heard of these people?-
Samantha Riley (Olympic swimmer)

Susie Moroney (long distance swimmer)
Matthew Dunn (Olympic swimmer)
playing sport

They have asthma and because they learned to manage it well they were able to become top athletes in their chosen sport.

About 11% of Australian Olympic standard athletes have asthma.

You can cope with Asthma if you:

  • Learn all about your asthma.
  • Find what triggers it off.
  • See your doctor regularly for check ups.
  • Learn how to manage your asthma.

Your doctor and the asthma organisation where you live can help you with detailed information on how to manage your asthma. (For example from the Asthma Foundation of South Australia.)

Managing your asthma

This can depend on what type of asthma you have.

Mild asthma is when attacks happen less than every 6-8 weeks and the lungs are normal the rest of the time.

Moderate asthma means that attacks are more often than 6-8 weeks and you have some signs or symptoms in between attacks.

Severe asthma is when you often have attacks and you have symptoms most days.

What you need to do

  • Learn all about your asthma, and work out an Asthma Management Plan with your doctor and your parents to keep you healthy.
  • Find out about your triggers and learn to avoid them or take your medication if you can't.
  • Co-operate with your doctor to find which is the best medication for you and when you should take it.
inhaler There are two types of medication, Reliever, which helps you to breathe during an attack or before exercise

Preventers, which are taken regularly to help your body to become less sensitive to your triggers, so you are less likely to have an attack.
preventer

How to use them

  • Get to know how to use your inhaler and spacer properly so that it can help you.
  • If you have to take preventive medication make it your task to remember.
  • Be aware of early warning signs…things that you have noticed happening before you have an attack, and know what to do about it.
  • Ask your doctor for a written Action Plan for when your asthma is getting worse, then you will know that you are doing the right thing.
  • Always have your medication with you if you are away from home or school.
  • Make sure that your teacher knows about your asthma and your medication. (Your class teacher should know but other teachers may not.)
  • If you have an attack  stay cool.

You know what to do. Follow your Action Plan and ask for help if you don't feel good quickly.

How to help a friend who is having an asthma attach

  • Don't panic. This could upset your friend.
  • Your friend will know what to do,ask your friend what she or he wants you to do.
  • Stay calm while your friend takes the medication, usually a 'puffer'.
  • If your friend takes another lot of medication after a few minutes and isn't any better send someone for help to their parent or teacher.
  • Stay with your friend and talk quietly to him/her.
  • Waitfor an adult to arrive.

An easy way to remember all this is by using the word Asthma

A Assess
Does your friend have her puffer? Do you need to send someone to get it? You need to tell an adult.
S Sit
Sit the person up and try to keep them calm.
T Treat
Treat with their puffer, or send someone to get it.
H Help
Stay with your friend and send someone to get help from an adult.
M Monitor
This just means to stay with your friend, be calm and see how they go when they take their medication. Stay with them until help arrives or they feel better.
A All OK?

flowerYou and your friend can continue playing.

BUT if your friend starts getting wheezy again soon afterwards you must be sure to tell an adult and start the ASTHMA plan again.

A lot of children have asked if people can die from asthma. Unfortunately the answer is yes. But, dying from asthma now is rare since most people have asthma management plans, which can prevent or treat most of their attacks.

What some children say about having asthma

  • "I got asthma when I was four. I usually get it at Christmas time. I am allergic to cat fur and dust mites. I take my puffer with me."
  • "I have asthma but I still do the same things as my friends. I just make sure I have my puffer with me."
  • "It doesn't last for ever. Sometimes it goes away for a long time."
  • "You can talk about it with your doctor and with friends who have asthma."
  • "You can go to asthma camps where everyone has asthma and you feel better about it."
  • "Sometimes my puffer didn't make me well enough. I had to go to hospital for some extra treatment. You sit in a bed and watch TV until you get better."
  • "I think puffers should be free."

children playing

Some advice from children who have asthma

  • You have to be responsible for taking your medication.
  • It's not that scary once you know what's happening.
  • Stay away from smoky places. If people are smoking near you and you can't get away, tell them that you have asthma and ask them to stop or move away from you.
  • Always have your puffer with you. 
  • Use your puffer 10 minutes before you exercise if exercise is one of your triggers. Do your warm up exercises before sport and cool down exercises afterwards.

Dr Kate says:

Dr Kate
"Make sure that you know all about your asthma plan and what you need to do. If you're unsure, ask mum, dad, your carer or your doctor to go through it again with you. Don't forget to carry your puffer when you go out. Eating a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables might help you stay healthier too."

You may want to keep a spare puffer in the school sick room if you have asthma often. Make sure it has your name on and it is not out of date.

Resources

  • Asthma Foundation of Australia 
    http://asthmaaustralia.org.au/ 
  • Look in your local/school library.
  • Ask for information at your local community health centre.
  • Look for information sheets at the doctor or chemist.
  • Look at this site to play a game and see how much you have learned about managing asthma.
    http://asthmakids.org.au/ You could do the survey to find out how well you are going with your asthma plan.
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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.

 

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