Dr Mark Rosenthal


Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8754

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

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

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.


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.

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