This guest post is written by my daughter Jade, who would like to tell you about her experiences as an Asthma sufferer. This illness is dangerous and prolific and it costs lives. Many people are affected by it and the charity Asthma UK is campaigning for Change to improve the lives of the millions of sufferers in this country. Please click the links to find out how you can help. Over to Jade, who I'd like to thank for writing such a lovely post!
I have had asthma since I was two years old and my inhalers have been as much a part of my life as my big toe. I don’t really think about the routine of taking them every day- but if I lose one, that’s when everything falls off balance for me! I am writing this blog post because, although I have had a lot of asthma attacks, I keep thinking about one in particular, where I must have been in my early teens.
I had gone to bed feeling fine, but in the middle of the night I woke with a start. I had been dreaming that I was holding my head under water, then that I could not get my head out from under the water. Then, as I woke lifting my head it felt like, for a few seconds, I was still drowning. It took me a few minutes to realise what was happening, but I eventually (still half asleep) reached behind my bed and grabbed my inhaler. After about ten minutes, I fell back to sleep. I had completely forgotten about this experience, until a couple of days ago where I started to remember it. I want to write this post to advise parents, from a young person’s point of view, on how to make growing up with asthma, less of a drama.
Prepare for Enemy Attack…
My first piece of advice would be to know what medication your child needs to take and when- it’s a common illness, but not every asthmatic is the same. Please, check with your child’s doctor on what they should be taking and when. Also, try and find out what triggers (starts) your child’s asthma and avoid these things. For example:
|Bagpuss has looked after my inhalers for 15 years!|
My second piece of advice would be to help your child to organise a special place where they can keep all medication- No one is allowed to touch it, accept for them. In the situation I found myself in when I was young, I was able to place a hand straight on my inhaler, which is crucial when you suddenly find yourself short of breath. This advice is important wherever you go- An inhaler in your school bag, handbag (Mum’s handbag), Nan’s nightstand… Wherever you go, always be one step ahead.
Final advice on preparation, talk with your child about how to stay away from triggers. For example during the summer if pollen is a problem, changing bed sheets and taking regular showers is a good idea.
When the Air Turns Blue…
First rule- Never panic, just prepare! Inhalers are fantastic, they really are a life saver but sometimes (usually when an asthma attack is at a late stage or if there is something triggering it, that the child has not moved away from yet) you will need to call an ambulance. Here are the signs for if your child, or of course anyone, needs you to call an ambulance for them:
1) Are there lips blue?
2) Is the reliever or inhaler not working, even after waiting 10 minutes?
3) Are they too exhausted to eat, talk or sleep?
4) Are the symptoms progressively getting worse, or are they describing more symptoms i.e. wheezing, tightness of chest or breathlessness.
If yes to any of the above, call an ambulance but remember to stay with the child for reassurance.
Second rule- Take a nice, deep breath… If your child starts to have any of these symptoms: Wheezing, tightness of chest or breathlessness. Reassure them if needed, but encourage them to take their medication as soon as possible, which will more than likely be a Ventolin inhaler, which should be taken like so:
2) When the child has breathed out, put it up to the child’s lips for them to breathe it in, they should form a tight seal.
3) The child should hold there breath for 5- 10 seconds, then breathe out slowly.
4) The child should continue this breathing exercise of in for 10 seconds, hold for 5 seconds and breathe out slowly until they are calm.
5) Give the inhaler 10 minutes to work, then ask how they are feeling.
Final rule- Breathe happy! Breathing is second nature for everyone else, why shouldn’t it be for us!? Learn to control your asthma, learn to control your life. Your child can use the breathing techniques they learn to combat stress, much faster than other children. We are also the most grateful people in the world for breath, it’s not until you learn to go without that you can truly appreciate what you have. I will never take up smoking and never have in the past- for fear of hospitalisation. So, most asthmatics end up taking their health a lot more seriously in the long run. I think that’s why I have been remembering that asthma attack. I need to take my health seriously and look after myself, now that I am older.
Click the link to read a previous Hidden Illness post, about MS.