Dr Mark Rosenthal

MD MB ChB FRCP FRCPCH BSc

Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8832

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

A:The Royal Brompton Hospital, London, SW3 6NP

How to Deal with Asthma During COVID-19 Lockdown

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The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions have had a dramatic impact on all of us. By this time we’re all familiar with the guidance on washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but coping with lockdown can still be tough, especially if your child has a respiratory condition like asthma. However COVID-19 has not so far been a trigger for asthma in children.

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Coping with Anxiety

Both parents and children have endured a lot of stress and anxiety over the last year. We’ve worried about catching COVID-19 and dealt with enormous changes in our daily lives, especially during lockdowns. Stress can sometimes trigger or worsen asthma symptoms so it is important to find ways to manage it. Explaining the situation to your child in an age-appropriate manner is vital as half-heard news stories and rumours from school could make things sound a lot worse. You should also set aside time to ask your child how they’re doing and listen to their questions or concerns. Planning some fun or relaxing activities together can also help you all to de-stress.

Exercise During Lockdown

Exercise can be a trigger for asthma in children, but it is still an essential part of keeping healthy. You should encourage your child to stay active during lockdown as long as their asthma is under control. Getting regular exercise can help to improve lung function as well as boosting your child’s mood and giving them something fun to do. Joining an online PE class is a great way to stay active at home, but other activities such as dancing, skipping, ball games, or building obstacle courses in the garden can all be enjoyed during lockdown. If you’re able to take your daily exercise outdoors then you could go for a walk or bike ride together. The best place to exercise will be a nearby green area. It’s best to avoid areas with lots of people where you can’t keep your distance. You should also try to exercise away from busy roads or traffic as air pollution can trigger asthma in children. If your child’s asthma is severe or symptoms are triggered by exercise then you should talk to your doctor about how to do it safely.

Get Help When You Need It

Sticking to your child’s asthma action plan and continuing to take any medication your doctor has prescribed can help keep the symptoms under control. However, if anything does change or the symptoms become severe, it is vital to seek help. You can arrange an online consultation with your respiratory specialist to discuss your child’s asthma. You can also access emergency services at A&E or by calling 999 if your child has an asthma attack. Although many parents feel reluctant about going to hospital during lockdown, asthma attacks can be very serious or even life-threatening. Don’t delay seeking help because you’re worried about COVID-19. All possible precautions are being taken by healthcare workers to prevent infections and the risks of delaying seeking help for an asthma attack are much greater.

Keeping Track of Your Child’s Asthma Symptoms in Winter

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Winter can be a difficult time of year for children with asthma. Many children experience worse or more frequent symptoms because they are susceptible to certain triggers that occur at this time of year. Identifying your child’s asthma triggers is the first step to eliminating them, but it can be difficult to tell what is causing the problem if you’re not tracking your child’s symptoms. Keeping an asthma diary is a simple way to spot the patterns when and where the symptoms appear. If your child’s asthma always gets worse when the weather is freezing or after you’ve been using the wood burner then this could tell you what’s causing the problem.

Asthama

Winter Asthma Triggers

Asthma in children can get worse during the colder months. Winter weather and changes in our lifestyles can trigger Asthma symptoms for some children. However, the triggers can be different for everyone so it can be difficult to tell which factors you need to change in order to protect your child.

Common winter triggers for Asthma in children include:

  • Cold weather, especially when children are breathing in cold air while outside
  • Dry indoor air due to central heating
  • Smoke and air pollution from open fires or wood burning stoves indoors
  • Damp and mould, which often thrive during colder, wetter weather
  • Dust mites, pet dander and other indoor allergens can cause more problems when we’re spending longer at home or reducing ventilation by keeping windows closed
  • olds, flu or chest infections, which can exacerbate asthma symptoms by narrowing the airways

How to Keep an Asthma Diary

Consistency is the key to keeping an asthma diary for your child so it’s important to find an approach that works for you. Some people find it easier to keep notes on their phone while others prefer a notebook or use a calendar or wall chart. You should decide what information you want to record and make sure that everyone involved understands what is required. You may need to include grandparents, teachers, and your child in the process in order to ensure every detail is recorded.

Useful details to include in your child’s asthma diary include:

  • the date of each entry
  • a description of any symptoms your child experienced
  • what your child was doing and where they were when the symptoms happened – this information will help identifying any asthma triggers so include details such as the weather or temperature
  • what medication your child used or other actions taken to relive the symptoms
  • peak flow measurements if you have a peak flow metre

Filling in your child’s asthma diary should become part of your normal routine. You could set aside some time to do this every evening or make a note immediately after your child experiences symptoms. It’s also helpful to take time to look back over the diary regularly to look for any gradual changes or patterns in when symptoms occurred. You’ll also be able to provide more accurate details to your doctor, which can help them to provide the best treatment for asthma in children.