NHS advice to young people on managing their asthma and avoiding hospital

It’s well known that asthma attacks and other symptoms of asthma can become more prevalent and severe during the winter months. But even into spring local hospitals are seeing a spike in the number of children and young people attending or being admitted for respiratory problems.

To help children and young people manage their asthma and avoid having to go to hospital, local NHS bosses have issued advice and guidance on how to manage asthma all year round. The advice includes how GPs, practice nurses and community pharmacists can help with showing people correct inhaler technique, developing asthma management plans and having medication reviews to ensure people are getting the medication they need.

Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties. Often starting in childhood, the main symptoms of asthma are:

  • wheezing (a whistling sound when breathing)
  • breathlessness
  • a tight chest, which may feel like a band is tightening around it
  • coughing

Dr David Lo, Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine at University Hospitals of Leicester, said: “Typically this time of year sees a spike in the numbers of children coming to hospital as a result of respiratory conditions such as asthma. Whilst hospital admission is clearly necessary for emergencies, many young patients asthma control could be improved, and their risk of asthma attacks reduced, through education about their condition. An example would be when GPs and other primary care staff help young people to manage their asthma better by demonstrating correct inhaler technique, emphasising the importance of using asthma preventers regularly, and issuing written personalised asthma action plans.”.

The local NHS have some top tips to reduce the likelihood of children and young people having to attend hospital for asthma and other respiratory problems:

  • Carry your reliever inhaler and spacer with you at all times and keep taking your preventer inhaler as prescribed by your GP.
  • Discuss an asthma management plan with your GP or practice nurse.
  • If you’re unsure how to use your inhaler correctly, ask your GP or local pharmacist for advice.
  • Go for regular asthma reviews with your GP.

Inhalers are usually prescribed for patients with asthma and other respiratory conditions. This is because they are effective at delivering medication directly to the lungs.  Having the correct inhaler technique is important to ensure you get the maximum benefits from the medication prescribed for you.

Asthma UK have a range of videos showing the correct technique for a wide range of inhaler devices, You can see the short videos at www.asthma.org.uk/advice/inhaler-videos

For more information on asthma visit the NHS website at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/living-with

For help with managing your asthma, see also the Asthma UK website: www.asthma.org.uk/advice/manage-your-asthma