a&u Health Editor, Suzie Skipper chats to Dr Helen Brough, Consultant in Paediatric Allergy at The Portland Hospital and Head of Service for the Children’s Allergy Service at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, St. Thomas’ Hospital about how to manage your child's asthma.
Do bear in mind that we are now in the birch pollen season, and poorly controlled hay fever can have a knock-on effect on asthma control. Read Dr Brough's advice on dealing with Hay fever here. It's particularly important to understand what you are dealing with, as some symptoms can be similar to Covid-19.
Children normally have mild symptoms of Covid-19
The main thing to remember is that The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have confirmed that current evidence from China, the US and Europe suggests that coronavirus in children appears to be relatively mild. Children can of course spread the virus to others , even if they have no symptoms, so good hand hygiene is very important.
Is my child at greater risk of Covid-19?
The chances of your child getting infected with the virus are the same as anybody else. Some children and young people will be at higher risk of more severe symptoms, particularly those with compromised respiratory function or a compromised immune system. Children with poorly controlled or severe asthma. (See Asthma UK for the definition and advice on shielding.) Or for those with immune deficiency i.e. those who are taking prophylactic antibiotics (usually Azithromycin). If you recognise your child is in a high risk category ask your GP for a shielding letter.
Looking after your child’s asthma
Make sure that your child is taking their regular medication to keep their asthma well-controlled. Do seek advice when this is proving difficult.
"Using Salbutamol, inhaled steroids and Montelukast (Singulair) do not increase the risk of getting Covid-19 or getting more severe disease," emphasises Dr Brough. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence recommends that if your child develops symptoms and signs of an asthma exacerbation, they should follow their personalised asthma action plan and start a course of oral corticosteroids if clinically indicated.
What appointments are available to my child during lockdown?
If your child needs to see a consultant you will probably find that they will offer a variety of ways to see them - telephone, video conferencing and face-to-face consultations are all available during lockdown.
Explain to your child that the doctors and nurses will be wearing personal protective equipment (a surgical mask, gloves, eye protection and apron).
Breathing tests are suspended until the Covid-19 pandemic is over to prevent possible virus spread.
What do I do if my child is acutely unwell?
Don't ignore your gut instinct. You will know if your child is really unwell and struggling with their asthma so don't delay going to hospital because of the Covid-19. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has published this guidance on when and how to seek emergency help if your child becomes acutely unwell.
If your child is upset by the virus news
Information for children is available on the BBC Newsround website, including specific advice if children are feeling upset by the news. The World Health Organisation (WHO) have provided advice for parents and carers to support with children feeling stressed by the coronavirus situation.