Top five ways to help manage childhood asthma

Family in the kitchen at breakfast time
Back to school: getting the right information when it comes to childhood asthma is important Credit: getty

The new school year can throw up concerns for kids with asthma. Whether they’re entering reception or sixth form, your Boots pharmacist can help alleviate any worries.

1. Keep school informed 

If your child has asthma and is starting school for the first time, make sure you provide written information to staff on their condition, their medication, and how it should be used.1 “All asthma patients should have an asthma action plan,” notes Boots pharmacist Angela Chalmers, “usually created with their GP or asthma nurse, which they can share with the school.

Check through it: Is it up to date? Does it take into account what should happen if your child gets wheezy doing PE, for example? You can pop into your local Boots and a pharmacist can help you go over it and talk to you about exactly what information you need to provide to the school.” If it’s not your child’s first year, the fresh term is still a good opportunity to make sure the school is up to speed with all the latest information.

2. Get regular reviews 

Anyone with asthma should have regular check-ups with their healthcare team – at least once a year – to ensure the condition is being managed effectively and the medicines they’re using are still the right fit.1

“A pharmacist can bridge the gap between reviews, because you can pop into your local Boots pharmacy without an appointment, any time, to discuss any concerns or questions,” notes Chalmers.

“Sometimes while we’re talking to someone it can become apparent that their previously well-controlled asthma symptoms are starting to become a problem, and we can suggest they make an appointment to see their GP again.”

3. Know the triggers

Getting clued up on your child’s asthma triggers gives you a massive advantage when it comes to keeping the condition under control. (And don’t forget to keep your child’s school in the loop about any culprits.) Some things may be avoidable, such as pet fur, cigarette smoke, and dust mites. For other triggers, such as cold weather, it’s a case of learning how to work around them.

“Your pharmacist can give advice on managing triggers. For example, it might be suggesting your child uses their reliever inhaler (often blue) 20 minutes before going out into the cold air, so their airways are nice and open to prevent wheezing,” says Chalmers.

4. Nail the technique

There are many kinds of asthma inhalers and a survey by Asthma UK found that up to a third of people don’t use theirs correctly. It’s important to get it right, though, because it means getting the correct dose of medicine.2

“If you’re unsure if your child is using their inhaler correctly, you can pop into Boots and a pharmacist can watch their technique and help them perfect it,” says Chalmers. This is especially smart if your child is new to school and it’s the first time that you won’t be around to keep a check on how they’re using it.

5. Consider vaccination against the flu 

Back to school time means cold and flu season is just around the corner, which can be a worry for anyone with asthma. “Getting a cold or the flu can be an asthma trigger, because it can cause your airways to become inflamed,” notes Chalmers. “This can make asthma trickier to manage than normal, so some people with asthma may be advised to have a yearly flu vaccination.1

“At-risk children with asthma are entitled to free vaccination, courtesy of the NHS. This is usually as an injection for children between the ages of six months and two years, and as a nasal spray for those aged between two and 17. So book an appointment at your GP surgery.”

For advice on children's health, ask your local Boots pharmacist or visit

1. living with asthma 
2. using inhalers