In Part 1, we discussed the issues facing the management of asthma in Singapore and we see that the most important thing is for parents to be empowered with the knowledge to manage their child's condition. In Part 2, we learnt about how to diagnose and stage the severity of Asthma. In Part 3, we discussed the different medications available and the difference between RELIEVERS and PREVENTERS. In Part 4, we looked at other ways of preventing Asthma by avoiding triggers.
In this last installment, we will bring it all together and discuss how to work with your Doctor to manage your child's Asthma.
The Asthma Action Plan
This is the Action Plan which I use in my clinic. It is the one produced by NUH under their I CAN! Asthma management program. I usually send children who need to have skin prick tests done to NUH as well.
The Action Plan helps parents to manage their child's asthma effectively by:
1. Clearly outlining the dosage of medications needed when the child is not having an Asthma Attack
2. Helping parents to recognize the onset of an Asthma Attack
3. Clearly outlining how medications should be increased based on the severity of the attack
4. Helping parents to know when they need to seek medical attention
So every child should have an Action Plan that is pasted on the fridge door so that parents can quickly refer to it when signs of Asthma start appearing.
The Peak Flow Meter
The Peak Flow Meter is used as a convenient way of assessing the severity of Asthma in the clinic or at home. By asking the child to blow into the device, you can gauge how severe the Asthma is by comparing it to the Peak Flow Reading when the Child is well.
If your child has Chronic Asthma, it may be useful to have one of these at home so that you can monitor the severity of Asthma your self. Sometimes in the very early stages of an Asthma attack, you don't get the wheeze or the shortness of breath. So, for example, when the haze situation returns and the PSI reading is high, the Peak Flow meter will help you gauge if your child is having Asthma even if he is not wheezing or coughing yet.
Wrapping it all up
I hope you found that the information contained in this 5 part series is useful in helping you better understand Asthma.
Knowledge means Empowerment. With the right knowledge, you, with your doctor's help can ensure that your child live a healthy and normal life!
Here are some more resources you can look at:
NUH's ICAN program
Asthma Patient Guide from Global Initiative for Astma
Asthma Patient Brochures from National Asthma Council Australia