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Asthma & Allergies

Asthma

Asthma is a very common condition which affects 1 in 10 young people. The hall mark symptoms of asthma include wheezing (a whistling noise made when breathing out through narrowed airways), shortness of breath and coughing. The symptoms typically come and go. If you have asthma you should have a ‘reliever’ (usually a blue inhaler) which contains medicine that helps to open up the airways. Reliever inhalers are used ‘when required’.

Those with more chronic asthma with day-to-day symptoms or frequent asthma attacks are prescribed ‘preventer’ therapy (usually an inhaled steroid) which needs to be taken regularly and aims to damp down the inflammatory response. It is important that you are offered education and ongoing support to understand:

  • What triggers the asthma and if possible how to avoid the triggers;
  • How to assess the severity of an attack and have a written action plan; and,
  • Understand the roles of the preventer and reliever medication, when to use each, and how to use the medication devices

Allergies

Many children and young people with asthma also have an allergic tendency and may suffer from hay fever (allergic rhinitis), eczema and in some cases may have allergic reactions to particular foods. The most common allergies are to:

  • Pollen
  • House dust mites
  • Mould
  • Pets such as cats and dogs
  • Wasps and bees
  • Industrial and household chemicals
  • Foods such as milk, nuts (mainly peanuts) and eggs

You can also be allergic to fruit, medicines such as penicillin, metals such as nickel in jewellery, and rubber.

Hay Fever: is a runny nose, sneezing, blocked nose and itchy eyes and is caused by contact with pollen.

Eczema: is itchy inflammation of the skin that is often linked to allergy. An eczema flare can be triggered by foods, house dust mites, pollen or pet hair.

Food Allergies:

When the body’s immune system reacts negatively to a particular food it is known as a food allergy. Food allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms including:

  • Skin reactions (such as a red itchy rash or swelling of the lips, face and around the eyes)
  • Digestive problems (such as stomach ache, vomiting or diarrhoea)
  • Hay fever-like symptoms (such as sneezing and itchy eyes).

Symptoms can appear suddenly, within minutes of eating the food, or can take hours or days to develop. Occasionally, severe symptoms can occur, such as swelling of the throat, hoarse breathing sounds, and sudden shortness of breath or wheezing. Food allergies are more common in children than adults because children often outgrow their allergy. The most common foods that children and young people are allergic to are cows’ milk, hens’ eggs, peanuts and tree nuts such as hazelnut and cashew.

For more information or if you are worried that you may have asthma or an allergy please speak to your GP or School Nurse or check out the following website:

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Allergies/Pages/Allaboutallergies.aspx