1. Keep a symptom diary
Take a note of your child’s symptoms and when they get them, so you have a symptom diary to show your child’s GP.
With asthma, symptoms can come and go. And a combination of signs and symptoms makes asthma more likely. So, a diary or calendar showing when your child gets symptoms can help your GP see if it’s likely they have asthma. You could use our symptom calendar and stickers. This makes it fun for your child to join in with tracking their symptoms too.
- the date
- the time of day – for example, a cough at night or in the early morning
- the time of year – for example, did symptoms appear for the first time in spring or summer when pollen counts were high?
- your child’s symptoms, like coughing or feeling out of breath
- anything you think made their symptoms worse, like pollution, pets, or running around when playing
- how long their symptoms lasted.
Whether you record your child’s symptoms in a notebook, on your phone, or on our My Asthma calendar, it’ll really help you and your child’s GP by:
- making it easy to see if symptoms come and go
- showing whether symptoms are worse at certain times of the day
- showing how often your child has symptoms
- showing what kinds of things trigger their symptoms, like colds and viruses, or exercise.
Tip: Record or film your child’s symptoms on your phone
If it’s safe to do, then filming your child when they have symptoms like coughing or wheezing, or making a recording of how their cough sounds, makes it easier to show the doctor what your child’s symptoms are like. This can be useful if your child’s not having symptoms at the time of the appointment.
2. Have some answers ready
Have a think in advance about your answers to these questions. These are the kinds of questions your child’s GP may ask you. Any answers you can give will help them decide if asthma is more likely.
- Was your child born early (before their due date)?
- Was your child born with a low or high birth weight?
- Did you/your child’s mother smoke while pregnant?
- Does anyone in the house smoke?
- Does anyone in your family have asthma, eczema, hay fever, or other allergies?
- Does your child have eczema, hay fever, or other allergies?
- Is your child’s nose always blocked or runny?
- Do you/does your child live on a busy main road?
- Is there damp or mould in your home?
- Has your child had bronchiolitis or croup?
3. Jot down questions you want to ask
Once you get to the appointment it helps to have a list ready with everything you want to ask. Jot down any questions as they come to you or tap them into your phone, so you don’t forget.
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?
- Should I tell their nursery/school?
- Is our pet dog/cat making things worse?
"Don’t be worried about your questions being ‘wrong’ or ‘silly’," says Asthma UK’s in-house GP, Dr Andy Whittamore. "The more you know, the more you can help. And your GP will be happy to run through your list of questions with you."
You can get advice and support about getting a diagnosis for your child, and what will happen at the appointment, by calling a respiratory nurse specialist on our Helpline, 0300 222 5800 (9am-5pm; Monday-Friday). Or you can WhatsApp them on 07378 606 728.
Last updated August 2021
Next review due August 2024