How to get the best from your child’s asthma review

Find out what happens at your child’s routine asthma review, how it can help your child’s asthma, and what you can do to make the most of your child’s appointment.

What is an asthma review?

An asthma review is a routine asthma check-up with your child’s GP or asthma nurse. It’s a good opportunity to talk about your child’s asthma and ask any questions.

You can talk about your child’s symptoms, triggers and medicines. You can also talk about asthma attacks and how to reduce your child’s risk.

Your child should have an asthma review at least once every year. Usually your GP surgery will invite your child for an annual asthma review. If they haven’t, it's fine to book the appointment yourself.

"Even if your child’s doing well with their asthma, take them along to their review,” says Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma + Lung UK’s in-house GP. “Their GP or asthma nurse can help them stay well.”

What happens at the appointment?

At your child’s asthma review your child’s GP or asthma nurse may:

  • Ask about your child’s asthma symptoms. For example, do symptoms wake up them up at night or stop them doing things?
  • Talk about your child’s usual triggers, and any new triggers you’ve noticed, like pollen, or dust mites, and how these can be managed or treated.
  • Check how often your child uses their reliever inhaler and review their medicines if your child’s using their reliever inhaler three or more times a week.
  • Check that your child’s taking their preventer medicines every day and that the dose is still working well for them.
  • Watch how your child uses their inhaler and talk to you both about best inhaler technique.
  • Do some simple breathing tests like peak flow, which shows straight away how well your child’s lungs are working.
  • Answer any concerns you have about asthma attacks, how you can keep your child’s asthma attack risk low, and what you must do if your child’s symptoms get worse.
  • Update your child’s written asthma action plan so you know how to keep your child well in between appointments, what medicines they need to take and when, and what to do if they have symptoms or an asthma attack. 

“Your child’s GP or nurse should also check your child’s height and weight at their asthma review,” says Dr Andy.

“This is because taking steroids, particularly for a long time, or at a high dose, can have an effect on a child’s growth. Try not to worry about this - the reduction in growth is very small - about half a centimetre in their first year of treatment.”   

Online appointments

During the coronavirus pandemic most asthma reviews have been happening remotely. This means that they happen over the telephone or over a video consultation.

Even though you may not be able to take your child to the surgery at the moment, they don’t need to miss out.

“Most parts of an asthma review can be done remotely,” says Dr Andy. “this includes peak flow if your child has a peak flow meter and chart at home.”

“And even though it may be less accurate, you can check your child’s height and weight too. If you’re able to have a video appointment you can also check your child’s inhaler technique.”

How to get the most out of your child’s asthma review

Don’t worry if you don’t get time to prepare for your child’s review. The main thing is to get there.

But if you can do one or more of these things, it’ll help you get the most out of your child’s appointment.

Write down your questions

It’s easy to forget things you want to ask once you’re in the appointment, so make a list before you go.

If your child’s old enough, they may have questions too.

Be open about anything you’re finding difficult like getting into a good routine with their preventer inhaler, or avoiding your child’s asthma triggers, for example if anyone in the family smokes around your child.

Keep a diary of any symptoms or triggers

It can be helpful to do this for a few weeks if you can, so you can give your child’s GP or asthma nurse a good picture of your child’s asthma and help spot any patterns.

Our asthma calendar and stickers make it easier for you and your child to record how their asthma’s been every day.

Take along your child's action plan

Ask your child’s GP or asthma nurse to update your child's asthma action plan with you.

If you haven’t started using an action plan for your child yet, find out more and download one here.

Your child’s GP or asthma nurse can fill it in with you.

Take along all your child’s inhalers and their spacer

The GP or asthma nurse can check your child's inhaler technique. In between appointments you can use the Asthma + Lung UK inhaler videos.

Check the date on their inhalers, and whether your child needs a new prescription.

Book your child’s next review 

If you can, book your child's next review as you leave the appointment. If you can’t book it now, put a reminder in your diary to prompt you to book it next year. Why not ask if there’s a text or email reminder service?

Seeing your child’s GP or asthma nurse at other times

“You don't need to wait for your child’s annual review to see the GP or asthma nurse about their asthma,” says Dr Andy.

“If you're worried about anything, you can make an appointment at any time.”

  • See your child’s GP or asthma nurse today if your child’s symptoms are getting worse, or you’ve managed an asthma attack at home with their blue reliever inhaler.
  • Take your child for a follow up appointment within two working days if they needed to go to hospital with an asthma attack.
  • Go back to the GP or asthma nurse in four to eight weeks if your child started a new medicine, or changed dose.

Get support

Call our Helpline for support with your condition. Get advice on your medicines, symptoms or travelling with a lung condition, or just call us to say hello.

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