Around 18 months ago, Harrison was diagnosed with nocturnal asthma. I didn’t even realise night asthma was a thing until then. Ironically, it was just after we moved from a built-up smoggy city to the coast – you would have thought it would be the other way around, right? He’d started coughing in the evening, and it would get progressively worse until about midnight, where it would wake him up and he would say his chest felt tight. A visit to the doctors saw us come away with a nocturnal asthma diagnosis, a blue reliever inhaler and a spacer.
We feel like we weren’t given much information from the doctor about it. Just a diagnosis, the medication and a few brief instructions on how to use it. We were told to phone up and make an appointment with the asthma nurse at the surgery, but we’ve not been able to get an appointment so far. Instead, we’ve had to see the doctor, who assured us a couple of puffs when he needs it was all we needed to do. I’m not the only parent out there who feels a bit shortchanged at the amount of information given about asthma – 43% of adults caring for a child with asthma say that there could be more information available on how to manage the condition. 12% wouldn’t know what to do if their child had an attack. I hate to say that up until recently, I was one of that 12 %.
I hadn’t realised that Lloyds Pharmacy had a respiratory support service, which can be invaluable to parents of asthmatic children, or indeed, anyone who suffers with it themselves. We made an appointment at our local Lloyds Pharmacy and popped in with Harrison’s inhaler. We were seen by Kris, the pharmacy manager who was incredibly knowledgeable about the condition and gave us some really useful advice.
Harrison goes through phases with his asthma. He can go several weeks without needing to use it at all, and then suddenly needs it every night. I wasn’t sure if there was anything in particular that would be making it worse, but Kris told us that there are several things that can trigger it, including:
Colds and Viruses
House dust mites
Cold or damp
We discussed Harrison’s medication with Kris, who was quite surprised that we were only prescribed a reliever inhaler (the blue one) for him and not a preventer (the brown one). As with most conditions, prevention is better than cure, and he suggested that we book an appointment with the asthma nurse to make sure that his asthma is being managed in the best possible way. This is really important for us now because Harrison is beginning to have sleepovers at his friend’s house, and is going away for his first overnight school trip in June.
Kris also told us we can get peak flow meters to keep at home. This is a really quick and simple way to measure how well your child’s lungs are working.
Harrison didn’t have an inhaler check there because we didn’t have his spacer with us, but the Lloyds Asthma Support Service does offer this, to ensure your child is using it correctly and give you some tips to improve technique if needed. They also offer asthma control tests for children over 12. Whilst Harrison is too young for that, Kris showed me what they would ask, and it does seem like although we thought we had it well managed, we would definitely benefit from going back to the doctor or asthma nurse.
The most important thing we came away from our consultation knowing was how vital a written asthma plan is. This contains information for anyone who looks after your child about their inhalers, how many puffs they need to take and when, any potential triggers, signs and symptoms that they are struggling and what to do if and when they have an asthma attack. With Harrison’s residential looming, this is something I’m keen to put in place in the next couple of weeks.
I think the service is absolutely brilliant. I came away feeling a lot more confident and knowledgeable about the condition. Whilst it doesn’t replace a visit to the doctor or asthma nurse, it is great for a bit of peace and mind in between, or if you aren’t sure about something. There’s also a really useful pack on the website, which you can download by clicking here.
*In collaboration with Lloyds Pharmacy Respiratory Service. All words and opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.