Have you ever said any of these things about your or your child’s asthma symptoms?
- It’s much better than it was last year
- It doesn’t keep them up at night much
- We only need the rescue inhaler every few weeks
- I just take a couple of puffs every time and I’m fine
- I’ve outgrown my asthma
- We’ve only had steroids a couple of times this winter
If so, then you are probably normalising your asthma symptoms. It’s easy to do and I didn’t realise how much we have been doing it until I recently attended an Asthma Summit in Washington DC run by the Allergy And Asthma Network.
Although we talk a lot about food allergies on this blog, we don’t talk about J’s asthma very much. Yet it has given him many more emergency hospital visits than his allergies, been much more persitent and very scary. I’ve written before about watching him have an asthma attack and there have been many more nights like that, watching, waiting and worrying. He has been rushed to the hospital by us and by ambulance as he has struggled to breathe, he has had countless puffs of ventolin, numerous nebulisers and many courses of steroids.
But his asthma is considered under control.
Normalising asthma symptoms
We only had his asthma review with the nurse last month and she asked about his symptoms in the previous 4 weeks. They had been negligible as generally, J’s asthma doesn’t affect his day to day life. His symptoms develop after a virus, change in weather, mould or pollen triggers them. He is absolutely fine, until he is not.
She also was pleased that he had only been to hospital twice this winter. I was too.
Two hospital visits this winter and more courses of steroids across the year. But we are all fine with that, happy even to see an improvement. That’s not right. It’s not controlled.
It’s not ‘just’ asthma. Four people in the UK die from asthma every day and we also have the highest prevelance of asthma symptoms in children worldwide!
Poorly controlled asthma symptoms
Not only is poorly controlled asthma a danger in itself, it is also a major risk factor for a fatal anaphylactic reaction. Your asthma may not be well controlled if you have:
- had two or more bursts of prednisone in the past year
- been hospitalised for an asthma attack in the past year
- been waking at night coughing
- stopped doing any regular activity due to your asthma
- missed any work or school due to your asthma
Asthma UK’s asthma attack risk checker is a good place to start. It is worth noting that up to 70% people are not taking the preventative medication correctly and this can contribute to poorly controlled asthma.
One of the first things I have done since coming home from America is to book an appointment with my GP to discuss J’s asthma in more detail.
While I was in Washington DC, I also learnt a lot more about the asthma spectrum and the different facets of the disease, as well as different treatment options. There was a lot to take in and digest but I will try to share it with you in the near future.
Here are some resources that may help you manage your asthma:
Breathing Space (about allergic asthma)