Royal Manchester Children s Hospital. Asthma. Information For Parents and Carers. Ward: Ward Telephone Number: Consultant:

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1 Royal Manchester Children s Hospital Asthma Information For Parents and Carers Ward: Ward Telephone Number: Consultant:

2 Understanding asthma Asthma is a common condition that affects approximately 1 in 7 children. It can be linked with eczema and hayfever and tends to run in families. Asthma cannot be cured, but if treated properly, it can be well controlled enabling children to lead full and active lives. The lungs and asthma Hundreds of tiny tubes called airways carry air in and out of the lungs. These airways have muscles in the walls and a lining on the inside. In asthma the airways are extra sensitive and become narrowed when the lining of the airways becomes inflamed (red and swollen). The inflammation can cause: The lining to swell. Sticky mucus to block the airways. The muscles to tighten and squeeze the airways. Normal breathing tube Air Relaxed Muscle Smooth Lining Asthma Air Tightened Muscle Thick, Swollen Lining Thick, Sticky Mucus In a bad asthma attack all of these things may happen together. Taking the right medication will help keep the airways open and make narrowed airways go back to normal. 2

3 What can make asthma worse? The airways can be sensitive to lots of different things. These are called triggers. Some of the common triggers that children with asthma are sensitive to are: Common colds Exercise and excitement Weather changes Cigarette smoke House dust mite Pets Pollen and moulds Signs asthma may be worsening There are four main symptoms of asthma: Coughing Wheezing Shortness of breath Chest tightness Asthma attacks do not usually happen without warning. Most children have warning signs that may include: Cough, especially at night Getting out of breath easily Wheezing Breathing faster than normal Symptoms may be worse at night or early morning, with exercise or during school playtimes and games lessons. 3

4 Asthma treatments Staying well and active is the main aim of asthma treatments. Asthma medication is usually given by means of inhalers, because they go straight to the lungs. There are different types of inhalers available. The choice of inhaler used will depend upon your child s age, their ability to use it, the treatment required and personal preference. Relievers (usually blue) This is the inhaler that needs to be taken immediately when asthma symptoms appear. Relievers work quickly to relax the muscles around the airways. As these muscles relax, the airways open wider and it gets easier to breathe again. Children with asthma need to keep their reliever inhalers with them, or close to hand, at all times. You never know when they may need them. Preventers (usually brown or orange) This inhaler should be taken every day, even when their asthma seems well controlled. That s because preventer inhalers work over a period of time to help the airways calm down and stop them being so twitchy. Long acting (usually green) This inhaler may be prescribed if your child s asthma symptoms are not controlled by a regular inhaled preventer and a reliever being used as required. This treatment needs to be given regularly, twice a day to help control their asthma, but it does not give immediate relief of the symptoms. Alternative inhalers known as combination inhalers (purple or red and white) may be prescribed for your child, this will be discussed with you by your child s GP or asthma nurse if they are needed as part of your child s asthma plan. 4

5 Coping with an attack There are three steps to coping with an attack: 1. Spotting the warning signs. 2. Treating the attack quickly. 3. Getting help if what you do does not work. 4. Administer your child s reliever inhaler as per their asthma plan or the direction of their GP/asthma nurse. What to do during an attack Stay calm, encourage your child to relax and breathe slowly. Your child should sit in a position that is comfortable for them. Loosen any tight clothing. Repeat the reliever treatment after 15 minutes if it does not have an effect. Danger signs If the reliever treatment is lasting less than 3 hours. Your child is becoming very distressed by the wheeze or breathlessness. They are too breathless to feed or talk. Your child is pale and their lips are turning blue. If any of these danger signs occur: Call an ambulance or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Department immediately. Repeat the reliever treatment as often as is needed until your child receives medical help. 5

6 Managing your child s asthma at home It is important to give your child their regular preventer inhaler, every day, even when they are well. You will need to give the reliever inhaler: If your child is coughing or wheezing. Before any activity that makes your child cough or wheeze. As your child starts to get chesty with a cold. If your child s asthma gets worse and you are needing to give them the reliever inhaler every 4 hours you should see your GP or Practice Nurse. If any danger signs occur seek medical help urgently. Further information is available on: in children/pages/introduction.aspx 6

7 Notes 7

8 No Smoking Policy The NHS has a responsibility for the nation s health. Protect yourself, patients, visitors and staff by adhering to our no smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted within any of our hospital buildings or grounds. The Manchester Stop Smoking Service can be contacted on Tel: (0161) ( Translation and Interpretation Service Do you have difficulty speaking or understanding English? /6342 Royal Manchester Children s Hospital Oxford Road Manchester M13 9WL TIG 04/11 Produced May 2009 Updated Dec 2010 Review Date Dec 2012 (SF Taylor CM9310)

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