Firstly – if you or someone with you are experiencing an emergency, please don’t delay – call your emergency service. In New Zealand, this number is 111.
Asthma in children can be very scary for parents and distressing for the child. It can help no end to know what it is you’re dealing with, why it might happen and some strategies for managing it. Read on for a brief overview; and we have listed some further resources at the end also.
Asthma is a really common condition globally and especially in New Zealand. In fact, 1 in 4 children in NZ will have asthma at some point during their childhood. We don’t really know what some children get asthma and others don’t, but some factors that make it more likely include:
- The child has hay fever, allergies or eczema, or the parents have these conditions or asthma
- The mother smoked during pregnancy
Asthma exacerbations (attacks) can be caused by many things. Some children have asthma year round, some have it seasonally, and some have it as a result of triggers such as allergens. Unfortunately, there is no one thing we can sole point to! Some triggers include (but not limited to):
- Pollutants (cigarette smoke is a big one)
- Cold air or changes in temperature
- Allergies such as pollens and moulds
- Viral illnesses such as colds
So what can I do as a parent?
The most important thing to do is ensure you have an action plan. Ask your GP to give you one specific to your child, and follow it – this is really the most important thing. You can see the NZ guidelines here: https://www.asthmafoundation.org.nz/resources/managing-your-childs-asthma
Secondly, keep a diary of symptoms, medication, how they are feeling, and peak flow (if possible). This is really useful both for you to recognise patterns and triggers, and also for your doctor and nurse for them to be able to help you the best they can. RespiTrak can do this for you – and you can set it up to manage your asthma, your child’s asthma or both – up to 5 accounts per subscription.
Also, give your child a smoke and vape free environment. There are a lot of things you can’t control when helping your child with asthma, but this is one you can.
Where you can get help:
Asthma NZ https://www.asthma.org.nz
Breathe HB https://breathehb.co.nz
This does not constitute medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or nurse before altering any medication use or changing your action plan.