Managing asthma in children
Based on averages, there are two children in every UK classroom with asthma and the NHS spends around £1 billion every year treating this respiratory condition in these young adults, so let’s use these statistics to squash any theories that asthma is simply ‘an excuse’ to get out of doing Physical Education.
Interestingly, the UK has some of the highest rates of asthmatics in the world and it can be along-term affliction if not treated properly. Yet asthma itself is defined in many different forms. There is no “one cure for all” treatment. Occasionally, those who are medicated continue to struggle with symptoms due to environment/emotional factors, or by using the medication incorrectly. By gaining a better understanding of the various triggers however, it can significantly help in avoiding the onset of future attacks.
With that said, certain triggers can be extremely difficult to avoid, so it is essential to have a clear strategy in place for when an attack does strike. You can find out about all of the practical steps available and to be followed if a child is having an asthma attack, via this article from Asthma.org.uk. Visit http://www.asthma.org.uk/advice-asthma-attacks
In this article, we are going to look at how we can minimise an asthma attack by looking at how we react, in line with the practical tips laid out by asthma.org.uk.
Firstly, it is important that children are well-informed without being overwhelmed. Speak to your child calmly about what to expect should they have an attack one day. Explain the process of steps that need to be followed. Perhaps writing it down in a concise way using different colours will help them to put the information to memory and then recall it better. Emphasise the need to keep as calm as possible and re-assure them that the attack will come to an end. They can do this creating a calm voice in their mind telling their body to ‘relax’ as well as statements such as ‘it will pass’ and ‘I am strong and in control’, in addition to imagining their airways being wide and their breath steady.
Talking your child through the process and making sure they are fully aware of their triggers can help them to become independent in controlling their asthma. This is important, not just so that they are able to take care of themselves if an attack happens when you are not around, but also so that they may take ownership of their condition, as well as their life.
It is imperative that you lead by example in order for your child to adopt a healthy behavioural response to any situation they face such as an asthma attack. Whilst it will be instinctive to panic and scramble around nervously or react with a high pitched tone, this will only make your child more anxious and worsen their symptoms. Instead, be prepared. Speak in a low but firm voice and have a simple set of useful words and instructions in mind to give when an attack occurs such as ‘focus on my voice’, ‘it will pass’, ‘breathe in, breathe out’ and ‘you are in control’.
Ensure teachers at school also have a strategy in place, including any techniques that you have developed that are helpful, such as gently rubbing your child’s back or speaking to them in a particular tone.