Whether you’re at secondary school or college, looking for your first job, or getting the hang of looking after your asthma, we’ve put together some helpful advice on what to expect with asthma as a teenager.
On this page:
When you get into your teenage years, you may want to start managing your asthma independently.
Managing your asthma by yourself will mean:
- understanding what medicines you’re taking
- remembering when to take your asthma medicines
- knowing how to spot an asthma attack
- keeping an eye on your symptoms and understanding your triggers
In your late teens, you may also need to think about:
- booking GP appointments, including your asthma review
- talking to your GP or asthma nurse (without a parent or carer)
- ordering medication before it runs out.
If you manage your asthma well, it shouldn’t stop you from doing new, exciting things. Managing your asthma independently will help you take on secondary school, college or university, learning to drive, starting work, dating, travelling or leaving home for the first time.
Three top tips for managing your own asthma
- Make sure you stick to your asthma action plan. Save a picture of it on your phone, so that it’s easy to share with friends, teachers and people you work with. This way they will know what you need them to do in case of an asthma attack.
- Set reminders on your phone for taking your preventer inhaler, or stick a note by your toothbrush to remind you.
- Remember to also keep your reliever inhaler with you at all times. Keep it with your keys, phone or bag so it’s easy to pick up before you go out.
Smoking and alcohol
As you grow up, it’s important to make choices that won’t negatively affect your asthma.
Smoking or breathing in someone else’s smoke will increase your risk of asthma symptoms and an asthma attack. It will also increase your chances of getting other conditions in later life like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, impotence, dementia and cancer.
Need support to stop smoking?
The good news is there’s a lot of support out there to help you quit, visit our quit smoking page to find out more.
Alcohol can also trigger asthma symptoms. Read our tips on how to lower your risk of asthma symptoms from alcohol.
You may see your asthma starting to change as you go through puberty. For some people it might improve or go away, and for others you may notice more symptoms.
Some teens with asthma might start growing and puberty a bit later than others, but this is only the case if asthma has not been well controlled. If your asthma is well managed you can lead a normal, active life.
Girls might notice more asthma symptoms than boys around puberty, this is because of increased hormones. Our women and asthma page can help you better understand more about female hormones and asthma.
Asthma doesn’t have to get in the way of choosing the job you want to do. But make sure you’re aware of the triggers that you could come into contact with in different working environments. For example, dust, exercising and weather.
You could mention your job choices to your GP or asthma nurse in your asthma review. They may be able to tell you which jobs could cause work-related asthma symptoms.
If you’re between the ages of 16 and 18 you may be moved from child to adult NHS services. Sometimes this transition period starts earlier than 16. Find out more about this on our transition page.
Last updated February 2021
Next review due February 2024