To work out if your child’s asthma is well-controlled, think back to their symptoms over the previous four weeks. Has your child:
If you answered ‘no’ to all these questions, then your child’s asthma is most likely well-controlled.
If you answered ‘yes’ to one or two of these questions, then your child’s asthma is partially controlled.
If you answered ‘yes’ to three or four of these questions, then your child’s asthma is poorly controlled and you should visit your healthcare practitioner for a review of your child’s asthma.
All children with asthma should have a written asthma action plan. A Child Asthma Action Plan is a “traffic light”-based plan, personalised by your child’s healthcare practitioner. It gives clear step-wise instructions for parents and carers on how to recognise and respond to worsening asthma symptoms, using the medicines prescribed for your child. It also includes how to respond to an ‘asthma emergency’ (a severe asthma attack), and when you need to call an ambulance.
An asthma action plan should be updated at least once a year, or any time there is a change in your child’s medicine or dose.
Printed asthma action plans are provided free of charge to healthcare providers, or they can be downloaded from the Foundation’s website. A digital version is also available and can be completed by your healthcare practitioner during your appointment. This can then be sent to you via Manage My Health, so that you can easily share it with family, caregivers, school, dance, gym, sports coaches etc.
Your healthcare practitioner or asthma educator can also show you how to fill in a Child Asthma Symptom Diary, which can be used alongside your child’s asthma action plan. When asthma is getting worse, there may be an increase in symptoms, night waking, or the child’s reliever inhaler might be used with less and less effect.
Keeping an asthma symptom diary helps you to see patterns in your child’s asthma over time. This information will help both you and your healthcare practitioner understand your child’s asthma triggers and make sure that the medicine prescribed is working to control their asthma symptoms.
A symptom diary is also useful when there is a change of medication or dose, or after an asthma flare-up, until you know your child’s asthma is under control again.
Smoking and second-hand smoke contributes to the risk of developing asthma and worsens asthma symptoms. Children who live in a home with a smoker are more likely to have respiratory infections. These infections are a known trigger for asthma. Chemicals from cigarette or tobacco smoke are absorbed into the environment (e.g., into furniture, clothes and car interiors). It has been shown that children with asthma whose parents smoke have more asthma symptoms than children whose parents don’t smoke. Exposing young babies to cigarette smoke increases the risk of asthma and bronchial problems.
If a woman smokes during pregnancy, the chemicals in the smoke are passed on to the baby. These chemicals affect the cells of the developing lungs. This may increase the baby’s chances of having lung problems such as asthma.
The use of electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes or vapes), and exposure to second-hand vaping emissions, can cause acute respiratory problems, although the long-term effects are unknown at this stage. Exposing children to the toxic substances emitted from a vape can irritate their lungs, cause coughing and worsen symptoms of respiratory conditions such as asthma. Click here for information on vaping.
Make it a rule that your home is smokefree at all times for everyone. Let other people know, asking them to go outside to smoke. A total ban on smoking and vaping in the house is the best way to protect your children. It is now illegal to smoke or vape in cars with children under the age of 18 present. You can find out more about this here.