Dear Gazette readers,
Now that the school summer holidays are here, it’s easy for health routines to go out of the window as children relax, enjoy the outdoors and get stuck into their favourite hobbies. But Asthma UK is launching a campaign urging parents of children with asthma to make sure they take their usual preventer medicine and keep up a routine over the school break. The medicine builds up over time so will help to protect their child from an asthma attack during the summer holiday and once they return to school.
Every 10 seconds someone has a potentially life-threatening asthma attack in the UK, and three people die from an asthma attack every day. In September, children are nearly three times more likely to be admitted to hospital because of an asthma attack than in August, partly due to seasonal triggers such as cold and flu viruses. If a child hasn’t kept up their preventer medicine routine over the school holidays, they will be at greater risk of reacting to these triggers.
The good news is that by taking a few simple steps, parents can help their child to avoid asthma attacks and enjoy the summer as much as anyone else:
• Keep up your child’s usual preventer medicine routine (usually a brown inhaler)
• Make sure your child has an up-to-date written asthma action plan, which you can download from Asthma UK’s website, and share this with anyone who will be looking after them; as using one means they’re less likely to end up in hospital for their asthma
• Track your child’s asthma symptoms using a diary or a symptom calendar
• Prepare for going back to school by arranging for your child to have an asthma review with their GP or asthma nurse to check your child’s medicines, and make sure your child has spare, in-date reliever inhalers to take into school
We want to reassure parents whose children have asthma that support is available through our nurse helpline. Last year we helped nearly 1,000 parents who called on behalf of their child with asthma.
For information and support on how to manage your child’s asthma over the summer or to download a written asthma action plan visit www.asthma.org.uk/safersummer
Dr Andy Whittamore,
Clinical Lead at Asthma UK and a practising GP