Don’t worry if you manage only one or two things from this list. Even taking just ten minutes to jot down what you remember about your child’s symptoms over the past couple of weeks is going to be useful.
“Having a bit of information ready that only you would know is a great help at that first appointment. It can make it easier to decide whether your child might have asthma,” says Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UK’s in-house GP.
1. Note down your child’s symptoms and when they get them
You could try our fun symptom calendar and stickers for children. Or start a list on your phone, or in a notebook.
Take a couple of minutes to write the date, what symptoms your child had (for example, coughing, wheezing, getting out of breath), and whether symptoms happened at night or during the day.
It’s a good idea to add anything else that was going on at the time too. For example, was your child running or playing? Was someone smoking? Was there a pet about?
You’re best placed to know your child’s symptoms. And taking a record of them to the appointment will help your doctor see if your child’s symptoms are set off by typical asthma triggers.
2. Record or film your child’s symptoms on your phone
It’s quicker and easier to show the doctor what your child’s cough or wheeze sounds like, especially if they’re not having symptoms at the appointment.
It’ll help you feel confident the doctor knows what your child’s symptoms are really like.
3. Have answers ready to these questions to help your GP see if asthma’s more likely:
- Was your child born early so they needed help with their breathing?
- Did your child have a low birth weight?
- Did you/your child’s mother smoke during pregnancy?
- Do people sometimes smoke around your child?
- Are there people in your family with asthma, eczema, hay fever or other allergies?
- Does your child have eczema, hay fever or other allergies?
- Is your child around pollution a lot? For example, do you live on a main road?
- Is there damp and mould in your home?
- Has your child had bronchiolitis or croup?
4. Give the Helpline a call for advice before your child's appointment
Our asthma nurses can explain what’s involved in getting an asthma diagnosis, and why it can sometimes take a while. They can answer your questions and talk you through what will happen at the appointment.
Just call them on 0300 222 5800, 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.
Or you can talk to our asthma nurses team via WhatsApp Chat on 07378 606 728
Then you can go to your child's appointment knowing what to expect and feeling more prepared.
5. Jot down any questions as they come to you, or tap them into your phone, so you don’t forget
Once you get to the appointment you’ll have a list ready with everything you want to ask. You might have questions like:
- “Why is my child coughing?”
- “Will I have to get them an inhaler?”
- “What do I do if they can’t breathe?”
- “Will their symptoms go away?”
“Don’t be worried about your questions being ‘wrong’ or ‘silly’,’ says Asthma UK’s in-house GP Dr Andy Whittamore. “The more you find out about your child’s symptoms the more you can help. And your GP or nurse will be happy to run through your list with you.”
Once you’re back from the first GP appointment we can help. Our page on after your first GP appointment, explains some of the things your doctor might have said, or plans they may have suggested. It will help you understand more about the next steps involved in getting a diagnosis for your child.