North London Partners in health and care

As a mum, experienced living with asthma, I was unsettled when my son was diagnosed

Michele, mum of 3

Even though I have asthma myself, it was really unsettling when my son was diagnosed with Asthma aged 4. I recall the diagnosis still came as an upsetting shock, even though as an infant he had episodes of wheezing when he had a cold or chest infection, and had to be admitted to hospital for a 'viral wheeze' several times as an infant.

Shortly after my son started nursery, we started noticing he was coughing more in the evenings, and the nursery also noticed that he was coughing and wheezing when playing outdoors in the playground, especially when it is cold outside. We brought him to the GP who looked at the history and did a peak flow. It was a little tricky to explain to my son how to do the peak flow but we got there in the end having me and the GP demonstrate using the peak flow meter a few times.

The asthma diagnosis was made during the consultation and thankfully the GP was most helpful in reassuring me that for the majority this condition can be well controlled with the appropriate use of inhalers, and they will keep a close eye on his progress. My son was then booked to see the asthma nurse, having been prescribed a brown inhaler to use mornings and evenings, and a blue inhaler to relieve any chest tightness or wheezing as and when it happens. The asthma nurse who was ever so patient was very helpfully showed me and my son how to use a spacer for the inhalers, and of course loaded him with praise and lots of stickers for doing it right after a good number of attempts.

We also got a very helpful document outlining my son's wheeze plan, also called an asthma action plan, with the directions on how to support my son to use the inhalers, to share with his nursery so we all know when and what to do when he has symptoms. We also signed the corresponding medication forms for the school and sports clubs to support my son using the inhalers he carries with him, fortunately from here the asthma has been reasonably well controlled and my son who is now in primary school had largely avoided needing admission at the hospital.

Nowadays we will make an appointment to see the GP as required when symptoms start to flare, otherwise we attend an annual asthma review clinic carried out by the asthma nurse. After catching up on how well his asthma has been controlled over the year, the nurse would check his peak flow and support his technique using the inhalers. I find these visits to the asthma review very helpful, not just to review the control of the condition, but also we can get some guidance on when to use the inhalers to prevent flare ups during his sports sessions, and as he grows he can be prescribed a different type of spacer for his inhalers which he is shown how to use during the visit.

Such support and monitoring arrangements have really much helped my son, family and school feel more confident managing his asthma over the years.