Getting a confirmed diagnosis of asthma for your child

What changes when your child’s asthma is confirmed? Get tips for coping with the new normal

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It may have been a long journey, but now you know your child has asthma, you and your doctor or nurse can put together a plan.

“When my children were diagnosed with asthma I was relieved…. I feel more prepared knowing why they feel unwell.” - Sarah, mum to Thomas, 13 and William, 3.

Other parents feel more sad than relieved – this is normal too. We naturally want the best for our children, so a diagnosis of a long-term condition like asthma might make you worry about how it will affect your child’s development, education or social life.

“As a parent, you can’t control whether or not your child has asthma, but you can control lots of things to help prevent symptoms and asthma attacks,” says Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UK’s in-house GP.

“If your child takes their medicines regularly, goes for asthma reviews and uses the correct inhaler technique, they, and you, can feel confident that having asthma won’t hold them back from doing anything.”

You can handle asthma

  • You’ve overcome challenges before. After all, you’re a parent. You somehow got the hang of caring for a whole other human being. Soon, giving your child their inhaler and visiting the GP will feel normal.
  • You don’t need to know everything about asthma straightaway. Your knowledge will build up over time, so don’t be afraid to keep asking your doctor or nurse questions. Our page on understanding your child’s asthma is there to help you get started 
  • You’re not alone. You can always WhatsApp our specialist Asthma UK nurses or give them a call if you have any questions. And when you want to talk to someone who's been through the same thing, you can chat to other parents of children with asthma on our Parents’ Facebook page.

An asthma diagnosis won’t always change your child’s treatment

If you’ve been waiting for a diagnosis for a while, your child might be taking asthma medicines already. If the doctor or nurse thinks the treatment is working, this won’t change. They’ll check everything is OK at your child’s yearly asthma review.

Sometimes, it can take time to find the right treatment for your child. If you feel your child’s symptoms aren’t getting better, ask for an appointment. Your doctor should be open to seeing your child and trying something different. 

Another possibility is the treatment working so well, that after three months your doctor decides to reduce your child’s dose of medicine. Taking the medicine as prescribed will help them decide whether they can.

Your child’s Asthma Action Plan – the key to beating symptoms 

Using an action plan means you're better equipped to deal with your child's asthma symptoms so they're less likely to end up in hospital for their asthma. 

Your child’s asthma action plan is designed to be filled in with your doctor or nurse. Basically, it’s everything you need to know to control your child’s asthma symptoms in one place. It tells you what medicines your child needs to take and how often, as well as what to do if their symptoms get worse.

If your doctor or nurse hasn’t given you one, you can always download one from our website and take it with you to your next appointment to chat through and fill out with them.

It’s handy to keep a photo of the plan on your phone, so you can check it whenever you need.

Tips for making asthma medicines part of your child’s routine

  • Try linking their preventer inhaler to something else they do each morning and evening – like getting dressed or into their pyjamas. It might feel hard at first, but eventually it will become a habit.
  • Keep their preventer inhaler somewhere you and your child will see it every day. Not in the bathroom though, as some inhalers don’t work if they get damp – and not somewhere little children or younger siblings can get to it.
  • Use your mobile phone to set up reminders to give medication, make appointments, or order prescriptions.

“We say Rosemary has to do three things before she went to bed: 1. wash your face; 2. do your inhaler; 3. brush your teeth. In the mornings she does her inhaler while I do her hair.”
Tammy Gore, mum to Rosemary, 6, who had her first asthma attack when she was two.

See more tips and support for managing your child’s asthma.

If your child or baby has an asthma attack

If your child does have an asthma attack, there are quick, simple steps you can take. Lots of parents have told us that knowing how to recognise an asthma attack and when to call 999 helps them feel more confident. Keep this graphic on your phone and share it with other people who look after your child to give you peace of mind.

If you’re ever not sure what to do, your child’s Asthma Action Plan should help. Remember, if their reliever inhaler isn’t lasting for four hours, call your GP and ask for a same-day appointment or take them to an out-of-hours service.

“I’d say to anyone who has a child with asthma, don’t hesitate to call 999 if you feel you need to – especially if it’s the middle of the night. They’d rather see you than for you to wait until it’s too late,"
Anna Bonnett, mum to Gabriel, 10, and Beau, 5.

Telling other people about your child’s asthma

Your child’s Asthma Action Plan contains the important things anyone caring for them needs to know. You could send a picture of it to family, friends, nursery staff and other activity leaders like swimming teachers.

“Kenji shared his Asthma Action Plan with his mates and the school has a copy too. Which makes everyone feel more confident and less anxious about his safety.”
Ernie McDade, whose son Kenji, 13, had his first asthma attack last year.

Find out more about leaving your child in other people’s care

Where to get help and support for your child’s asthma

Sometimes all you need is to talk to someone who’s been through the same situation. Get tips and advice from parents of children with asthma on Asthma UK’s Parents' Facebook page.

If you need expert help you can always go back to your child’s GP or asthma nurse. You can also speak to our friendly expert asthma nurses. Their Helpline is open weekdays between 9am and 5pm and you can either:

Last updated July 2018

Next review due July 2021

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