We Have Lots Of Expert Advice To Help Teenagers With Asthma
Whether youre at secondary school or college, looking for your first job, or getting the hang of looking after your asthma, weve put together some helpful advice on what to expect with asthma as a teenager.
On this page:
When you get into your teenage years, you may want to start managing your asthma independently.
Managing your asthma by yourself will mean:
- understanding what medicines youre taking
- remembering when to take your asthma medicines
- knowing how to spot an asthma attack
- keeping an eye on your symptoms and understanding your triggers
In your late teens, you may also need to think about:
- booking GP appointments, including your asthma review
- talking to your GP or asthma nurse
If you manage your asthma well, it shouldnt stop you from doing new, exciting things. Managing your asthma independently will help you take on secondary school, college or university, learning to drive, starting work, dating, travelling or leaving home for the first time.
Three top tips for managing your own asthma
Smoking and alcohol
As you grow up, its important to make choices that wont negatively affect your asthma.
Other Strategies For Coping With Asthma Attacks
Asthma can trigger a difficult emotional-physical cycle:
- Breathlessness and wheezing produce a fear of suffocation and death, even in very small children.
- This anxiety makes the muscles surrounding the airways even tighter, which makes breathing even more difficult.
Caregivers must first focus on reducing their own anxiety, which can heighten a child’s own fears. The next step is to help the child relax. One method for this is as follows:
- The child sits comfortably, bending slight forward with the eyes closed and hands placed gently above the navel.
- Tell the child to pretend the stomach is a balloon.
- The “balloon” must be “blown up” by inhalation, not exhalation. The child can tell if this working because the hands will move slightly apart.
- When the child breathes out, the “balloon” will be made flat.
This exercise both relaxes the child and discourages shallow, oxygen-poor breathing. Massaging the child in gentle circles on the chest is relaxing and may also loosen mucus.
Other recommendations to provide relief include:
Home visits by a nurse or other health care provider may be helpful if your family is having trouble managing your child’s asthma or following prescribed treatments. It is also a good idea to have your home evaluated for allergic triggers.
Asthma Attacks And What Makes Them Worse
Your airways narrow when they overreact to certain substances. These are known as asthma triggers. What triggers asthma symptoms varies from person to person.
When asthma symptoms suddenly occur, it is called an asthma attack . Asthma attacks can occur rarely or frequently. They may be mild to severe.
Although some asthma attacks occur very suddenly, many become worse gradually over a period of several days. In general, you can take care of symptoms at home by following your asthma action plan. A severe attack may need emergency treatment and in rare cases can be fatal.
Asthma is classified as intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent, and severe persistent.
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Sometimes Asthma Can Cause Long
Airway Remodeling If you have asthma, your airways become inflamed, which causes them to swell and produce extra mucus. Unless youre able to control this inflammation with medication, it can ultimately lead to a permanent narrowing or other structural changes in the lungs bronchial tubes, Dr. Rosenstreich says.
This airway remodeling is irreversible and can affect how well you breathe. Some people may ultimately need to use an assistive device, like an oxygen machine, to breathe.
Its believed that everyone who has asthma experiences airway modeling to some degree, however, severe airway remodeling is rare. When inflammation in the lungs isnt properly controlled by therapy with corticosteroids or bronchodilators, scar tissue can form and the airways are no longer able to open up, even after using an inhaler, Rosenstreich says. It can begin shortly after the onset of asthma, which is why we encourage people to stick to their prescribed therapy.
Anxiety and Depression As with some other chronic diseases, asthma may increase your risk for anxiety and depression. Some research has found that people with asthma are nearly twice as likely to develop depression as those without asthma.
Some research suggests the psychological stress and negative emotions associated with asthma are what put individuals with asthma at higher risk for these mood disorders. Sleep disturbances and inflammatory factors associated with asthma may also contribute.
Information About Asthma For Teenagers
Some things that are useful to know if you have been diagnosed with asthma include:
- You can continue to do what you used to do. Just make sure you look after your asthma.
- Lots of people have asthma .
- Make an appointment with your doctor to talk about your asthma. This will help make sure you are able to manage your asthma and keep doing the things you like to do.
- At your asthma review, talk to your doctor about what your triggers are, when your asthma symptoms get worse, and how often you are taking your reliever medication, and then ask for an Asthma Action Plan.
- Learn about asthma first aid and make sure you know what to do if you ever have an asthma attack this will be on your Asthma Action Plan.
- Teach your friends asthma first aid, then they can help you if you have an asthma flare-up.
- Learn about your medication what each type does and how to take it properly.
- Find out what triggers your asthma symptoms and try to avoid your triggers if you can .
- Make sure you keep your reliever puffer and spacer with you at all times .
- Learn how to recognise what your early asthma symptoms are to help prevent a more serious asthma attack.
- app to help manage your asthma.
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Tests To Identify Triggers
If you have persistent asthma and take medicine every day, your doctor may ask about your exposure to substances that cause an allergic reaction. For more information about testing for triggers, see the topic Allergic Rhinitis.
What Is The Best Way To Live With Asthma
The key to good living with asthma is developing a strong partnership between patients, caregivers, and physicians. Practical steps include the following:
Make an asthma care management plan with your physician. An asthma management plan helps you understand what to do when specific situations arise. Each time you visit the physician, talk about your plan, and make any necessary changes.
Educate yourself. Stay informed about the latest developments in asthma and allergy care and treatment. Ask your physician about new medications or research findings that may relate to your care.
Get regular medical care. If you have asthma, you should see your physician at least once a year, even if your symptoms are under control. When you become sick, or if you have significant changes in your health, you should also talk with your physician about how your asthma could be affected.
Take your medicine. Your asthma medications will make you feel better and sometimes people think thats the time to stop. Its not! Use your medications as prescribed.
With good management, asthma symptoms can be controlled. Most people who develop adult onset asthma are able to lead normal lives. Expect success!
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Side Effects Of Steroid Tablets
Oral steroids carry a risk if they are taken for more than three months or if they are taken frequently . Side effects can include:
- easy bruising
- muscle weakness
With the exception of increased appetite, which is very commonly experienced by people taking oral steroids, most of these unwanted effects are uncommon.
However, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for them regularly, especially side effects that are not immediately obvious, such as high blood pressure, thinning of the bones, diabetes and glaucoma.
You will need regular appointments to check for these.
Want to know more?
Check Peak Flow If Your Doctor Recommends It
It’s easy to underestimate how severe your symptoms are. You may not notice them until your lungs are functioning at 50% of your personal best peak expiratory flow .
Measuring PEF is a way to keep track of asthma symptoms at home. It can help you know when your lung function is getting worse before it drops to a dangerously low level. You can do this with a peak flow meter.
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Avoiding Childhood Asthma Triggers
To prevent asthma attacks or to keep them from getting worse, focus on known triggers with steps like these:
- Donât let anyone smoke in your home or car.
- Clean bedding and carpets often to fight dust mites.
- Keep pets out of your childâs bedroom. An air filter can help with allergens.
- Get regular pest control to avoid cockroaches.
- Fix leaks and use dehumidifiers to prevent mold.
- Donât use scented cleaning products or candles.
- Check daily air quality reports in your area.
- Help your child stay at a healthy weight.
- If they have heartburn, keep it under control.
- If exercise is a trigger, your childâs doctor might have your child use the inhaler 20 minutes before the activity to keep their airways open.
- Make sure they get a flu shot every year.
What To Think About
One of the best tools for managing asthma is a daily controller medicine that has a corticosteroid . But some people worry about taking steroid medicines because of myths they’ve heard about them. If you’re making a decision about a steroid inhaler, it helps to know the facts.
At the start of asthma treatment, the number and dosage of medicines are chosen to get the asthma under control. Your doctor may start you at a higher dose within your asthma classification so that the inflammation is controlled right away. After the asthma has been controlled for several months, the dose of the last medicine added is reduced to the lowest possible dose that prevents symptoms. This is known as step-down care. Step-down care is believed to be a better way to control inflammation in the airways than starting at lower doses of medicine and increasing the dose if it is not enough.footnote 10
Because quick-relief medicine quickly reduces symptoms, people sometimes overuse these medicines instead of using the slower-acting long-term medicines. But overuse of quick-relief medicines may have harmful effects, such as reducing how well these medicines will work for you in the future.footnote 11
You may have to take more than one medicine each day to manage your asthma. Help yourself remember when to take each medicine, such as taping a note to your refrigerator to remind yourself.
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How Can You Prevent Asthma Attacks
You can prevent some asthma attacks by avoiding those things that cause them. These are called triggers. A trigger can be:
- Irritants in the air, such as cigarette smoke or other kinds of air pollution. Don’t smoke, and try to avoid being around others when they smoke.
- Things you are allergic to, such as pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches, or pollen. When you can, avoid those things you are allergic to. It may also help to take certain kinds of allergy medicine.
- Exercise. Ask your doctor about using a quick-relief inhaler before you exercise if this is a trigger for you.
- Other things like dry, cold air an infection or some medicines, such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . Try not to exercise outside when it is cold and dry. Talk to your doctor about vaccines to prevent some infections. And ask about what medicines you should avoid.
Know Your Asthma Triggers
A trigger is anything that can lead to an asthma attack. A trigger can be smoke, air pollution, allergens, some medicines, or even stress. Avoiding triggers will help decrease the chance of having an asthma attack.
In the case of allergy triggers, avoiding them will help control inflammation in the airways. If you have asthma triggered by an allergen, taking allergy medicine may help you manage the allergy. It may limit the allergy’s effect on your asthma.
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Are There Any Special Considerations For Adults Who Develop Asthma
People with multiple medical conditions need to be aware of how their illnesses and the medications they use may affect one another.
If you take more than one medication, talk with your physician about ways to simplify your medication program. Explore the possibility of combining medications or using alternate ones that will have the same desired effect. Be sure to discuss potential drug interactions with anything you take including vitamins or herbal supplements.
Do Children Outgrow Asthma
No. Asthma is a lifelong disease. Some children may have fewer symptoms in their teens but they still have asthma.
The pattern of wheezing seen in young children can make this issue confusing. About two-thirds of children who wheeze when they have a cold do not have wheezing after age six. Many of these children may be initially diagnosed with asthma. This does not mean they “outgrew” their asthma–it usually means that they probably didn’t have asthma in the first place.
If your child has symptoms , it is important to talk with your child’s doctor. If your child has asthma, your doctor will help you develop a treatment plan so your child can lead a healthy, active life.
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Getting Help For Allergies
See a GP if you think you or your child might have had an allergic reaction to something.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction can also be caused by other conditions.
A GP can help determine whether its likely you have an allergy.
If they think you might have a mild allergy, they can offer advice and treatment to help manage the condition.
If your allergy is particularly severe or its not clear what youre allergic to, they may refer you to an allergy specialist for testing and advice about treatment.
It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need
See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.
You can develop asthma at any time in your life. Its possible not to have asthma as a child and develop it later as an adult. Its also possible to have long periods where asthma is inactive, and then have symptoms return later in life.
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How Asthma Is Treated
While there is no cure for asthma, there are a number of treatments that can help control the condition.
Treatment is based on two important goals, which are:
- relieving symptoms
- preventing future symptoms and attacks
For most people, this will involve the occasional or, more commonly, daily use of medications, usually taken using an inhaler. However, identifying and avoiding possible triggers is also important.
You should have a personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse that includes information about the medicines you need to take, how to recognise when your symptoms are getting worse, and what steps to take when they do so.
These symptoms are often worse at night and early in the morning, particularly if the condition is not well controlled. They may also develop or become worse in response to a certain trigger, such as exercise or exposure to an allergen.
Read our page on the causes of asthma for more information about potential triggers.
Speak to your GP if you think you or your child may have asthma. You should also talk to your doctor or asthma nurse if you have been diagnosed with asthma and you are finding it difficult to control the symptoms.
Were Careful To Keep Our School Classrooms Nut
Were used to preparing allergy-friendly treats for the school bake sale or soccer practice, but what about your office happy hour? Most people develop food allergies as children, but those allergies can show up in adulthood, too. Even if youve enjoyed a certain food your entire life without a problem, you could start reacting to it at any age.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about 1 in 25 adults has a food allergy. Most developed that allergy as children but not all. Fortunately, many kids outgrow their allergies food allergies that start in adulthood tend to stick around, though. If youre concerned that you have developed a new allergy, its best to check in with your primary doctor or allergist for testing and treatment. While occurrences rare, food allergies can cause difficulty breathing and require emergency treatment.
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Diagnosing Asthma In Young Children
Healthcare providers are often reluctant to give a diagnosis of asthma to infants and very young children because children often cough and wheeze with colds, chest infections like bronchitis, and other conditions responsible for asthma-like symptoms.
Since there is no diagnostic test available for children younger than six years of age, making a diagnosis in this age group is more difficult than in older children. Over the age of about six it is possible for a child to have a spirometry test. This is a simple test that measures a childs airflow through the large and small airways. Results reveal if the childs airflow can be improved with medication. Reversibility of airway obstruction is a key feature of asthma. If administering a bronchodilator reverses airway narrowing significantly, the diagnosis is probably asthma.