Spotlight on asthma

Spotlight on Asthma

In New Zealand over 460,000 people take medication for asthma – one in nine adults and one in seven children. Large numbers of children (3,730 or 430.9 per 100,000 in 2013) are still being admitted to hospital with asthma. Read below for advice from the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ on how to manage asthma in children. 

Know your child’s asthma triggers and avoid them. Triggers can be:

  • Colds and flu
  • Exercise and activity
  • Temperature and weather changes
  • Emotions such as stress and anxiety
  • House dust mites
  • Animals
  • Pollens, moulds and fungal spores

Keep the home as dry and warm as possible. The World Health Organization recommends a minimum indoor temperature of 18°C. If house temperatures fall below 16°C, the risk of respiratory illness increases.

Make sure the home is smokefree. Children with asthma whose parents smoke have more asthma symptoms than children whose parents don’t smoke.

Feed the family with foods that are full of nutrients like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Try to avoid fast foods, processed meat and white bread.

Take medication as prescribed and use a spacer if the inhaler allows it. Make sure inhalers aren’t empty or out-of-date and check your child's inhalation technique with a doctor or nurse.

Every family member should get their flu vaccination each year from March onwards. The flu vaccine is free for people who have asthma and on regular preventative therapy. It is also free for children aged four years and under who have significant respiratory illness.

Reduce exposure to germs
All family members must wash hands with soap and warm water as needed to prevent the spread of germs.

Asthma management plan
A plan helps identify what to do when well, unwell or need help in an emergency. Have an up-to-date management plan filled in by your GP or nurse.

Talk to your child’s teacher
Make sure your child will tell a teacher if feeling unwell. Give the teacher a copy of your child’s asthma management plan and make sure the school has your emergency contact details.

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