If your child’s asthma suddenly get much worse (asthma attack), they will require urgent treatment. Signs of an asthma attack include:
Sometimes there is no obvious cause for your child’s asthma attack, but the most common triggers are viral infections (coughs, colds and chest infections), sudden changes in the weather and exposure to cigarette smoke.
If you are concerned about your child’s symptoms please see the table below.
If your child is:
Keep child in upright position and reassure them
If your child is:
Increase blue (salbutamol) reliever inhaler 6-10 puffs every 4 hours
If symptoms persist for 4 hours or more and you have not been able to speak to either a member of staff from your GP practice or to NHS 111 staff, then consider taking them to your nearest Emergency Department
If your child starts to cough, wheeze or has a tight chest but can continue day to day activities
Give 2-5 puffs blue (salbutamol) reliever inhaler every 4 hours until symptoms improve
Signs of poorly controlled asthma include your child having a regular cough at night (nocturnal cough), being wheezy or more breathless than other children when they run around (exertional dyspnoea) or using their reliever inhaler more often than expected.
Arrange to see your GP or asthma nurse if they are experiencing such symptoms.
To watch a video on encouraging children to use their inhalers effectively please click here.
Your child’s asthma will not be controlled if their medicines are not getting into their lungs.
Choose appropriate sized spacer with mask (or mouthpiece if child is over 3 years with good technique and is not significantly short of breath).
Repeat steps 1-5 for subsequent doses.
Plastic spacers should be washed before 1st use and every month as per manufacturer's guidelines.
For videos on using your child's inhaler and spacer correctly see goo.gl/235DQ
See your practice nurse or doctor if you are not sure whether your child is using their inhaler properly.
Although it is extremely difficult to avoid your child getting a viral infection or experiencing changes in the weather, you can reduce exposure to common irritants such as cigarette smoke. Even where adults smoke away from their children, smoke on their clothes and hair is likely to make their child’s asthma worse.
Not only can flu trigger an asthma attack in your child, your child is more likely to experience severe influenza if they have asthma. Protect them by having them vaccinated every year
At the start of cold symptoms (such as runny nose), begin your child on blue (salbutamol) reliever inhaler 2 puffs 4 hourly (including through the night). This can be increased to up to 10 puffs at a time if your child’s symptoms are still significant. If your child is requiring increasing amounts of blue inhaler you should seek medical advice according to the table below.
Over the next few days, you should follow the instructions on your child's personalised asthma action plan completed by their clinician. A template can be found here.
Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.
Health Visitors can also make referrals for you to other health professionals for example hearing or vision concerns or to the Community Paediatricians or to the child and adolescent mental health services.
Contact them by phoning your Health Visitor Team or local Children’s Centre.
Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:
For more information watch the video: What does a health visitor do?
School nurses care for children and young people, aged 5-19, and their families, to ensure their health needs are supported within their school and community. They work closely with education staff and other agencies to support parents, carers and the children and young people, with physical and/or emotional health needs.
Primary and secondary schools have an allocated school nurse – telephone your child’s school to ask for the contact details of your named school nurse.
There is also a specialist nurse who works with families who choose to educate their children at home.
Before your child starts school your health visitor will meet with the school nursing team to transfer their care to the school nursing service. The school nursing team consists of a school nursing lead, specialist public health practitioners and school health staff nurses.
They all have a role in preventing disease and promoting health and wellbeing, by:-
Each member of the team has links with many other professionals who also work with children including community paediatricians, child and adolescent mental health teams, health visitors and speech and language therapists. The school health nursing service also forms part of the multi-agency services for children, young people and families where there are child protection or safeguarding issues.
If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.
A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.