Asthma and young people

Find out how to manage your asthma during puberty, when you’re studying, and when you leave home.

Three ways to manage your asthma well

Whether you’re at school or university, starting a new job, or leaving home, here are three quick and easy things you can do to help you stay on top of your asthma.

1. Download an asthma action plan

An asthma action plan helps you manage your asthma, whatever changes are happening in your life.  It will also lower your risk of being admitted to hospital for your asthma.

You could keep a photo of your plan on your phone, so it’s easy to share with other people. This way they’ll know what to do if you have an asthma attack.

2. Set reminders for your preventer inhaler

If you take your preventer inhaler every day as prescribed, you’re less likely to have asthma symptoms.  

Try setting reminders on your phone to take your preventer inhaler. This will help you remember, even if your routine changes.

3. Keep your reliever inhaler with you

It’s important that your reliever inhaler is always easy to access. Keep it where you or others can find it quickly.   

Managing asthma on your own

When you get into your teenage years, you may want to start managing your asthma independently. If you manage your asthma well, you can get on with life without symptoms getting in the way.

To begin with, make sure you:

As you get older, you may also start to think about:

During your teens, you’ll start getting ready to move from child to adult NHS services.  Your GP will help you with this. We have more information on what the move from child to adult asthma care involves.

Taking your asthma medicines

It’s really important to keep taking your preventer inhaler and any other medicine you’ve been prescribed, to control symptoms and stop asthma attacks.

As you get older, you might find it harder to remember to take your medicine, perhaps because you’re busy with things like schoolwork and seeing friends. Maybe you feel like your medicine makes you different from other people, or you’re just fed up of having to take it.

These are all common feelings for young people with asthma, so remember you’re not alone.

It’s a good idea to talk to your GP or asthma nurse and come up with a treatment plan that you’ll be able to manage. You can also work with them to set realistic goals that will help you stick to your treatment.  


Asthma and puberty

Some people stop having asthma symptoms once they reach puberty, but others notice their asthma symptoms getting worse during puberty.  

Female hormones can be an asthma trigger, so once you start having periods you may notice worse symptoms. 

Alcohol, smoking and drugs


If you drink alcohol, it’s safest not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week.  Drinking too much alcohol can harm your general health and make you more likely to become seriously ill with your asthma.  Alcohol can also be an asthma trigger for some people.


It’s very important not to start smoking, as it increases your risk of asthma symptoms and asthma attacks.  Teenagers with no asthma symptoms who smoke increase their risk of developing asthma.  

If you smoke, we have support to help you quit.

It’s also not a good idea to take up vaping, as it can cause inflammation in your airways and make it harder for your lungs to work.  The effects are worse for people with asthma. For some people, vaping triggers asthma symptoms.

Recreational drugs

Using recreational drugs can trigger your asthma symptoms, increasing your risk of asthma attacks. We have more information about recreational drugs and asthma

Looking after your mental health

It’s not unusual for young people with a long-term condition like asthma to feel low. It can be especially hard if you’re having lots of symptoms.  

Your GP or asthma nurse can support you to manage your asthma in the best way so your symptoms don’t get you down. There’s also lots of support for your mental and emotional wellbeing.

We have information and advice on looking after your mental health when you have a long-term lung condition.

YoungMinds has advice and support for young people, including tips on reaching out for help.

Studying with asthma

Whether you’re at school, college, or university, there are a few things you can do to stop asthma from getting in the way of your studies.

Tell your school, college, or university that you have asthma. Go through your asthma action plan with them so they know what medicines you take and what to do if you have an asthma attack.  

Who to talk to will depend on where you’re studying:

  • At school and college: your head of year, form tutor, or school nurse.
  • At university: university welfare support, student support services or your personal tutor.

Missing classes or deadlines

If you’re missing classes or deadlines because of your asthma, speak to your teacher or tutor as soon as possible. They may be able to extend your deadlines and offer you more support.  

Disability Rights UK has suggestions for support you could ask for. Even if you do not consider your asthma to be a disability, you may need support or special arrangements.

Speak to your GP or asthma nurse if stress or anxiety is triggering your asthma. The school nurse or welfare officer at your school, college or university may also be able to help you.

If you feel like you’re not getting the support you need, you could make a formal complaint about your school or university.

Asthma during exams

If you have exams coming up, it’s important to make sure your asthma is under control. Take your preventer inhaler every day as prescribed, and always have your reliever inhaler with you.

Exams often happen during pollen season. If your asthma is triggered by pollen, remember to take a daily antihistamine when pollen levels are high. Make sure you choose one that is non-drowsy.

Stress can be an asthma trigger.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your exams, let your friends and family know, so they can support you. You can also talk to your GP or asthma nurse. YoungMinds has advice for dealing with exam stress.

If you’ve been unwell with asthma and it’s affected your studies or your exam performance, speak to your exams officer at school, college, or university. It may be possible for your mark to be changed, to resit the exam, or to get a coursework extension. 

Support for severe asthma at university

If you’re going to university and you have severe asthma which makes it hard for you to do day-to-day activities, even if it’s just some of the time, you can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance.

Most universities and colleges have disability support teams who will be able to tell you what support you can get  and answer your questions. UCAS has more information about applying to university with a physical condition.

Asthma when you start working

Having asthma doesn’t have to get in the way of choosing the job you want to do. But make sure you’re aware of the triggers that you could come into contact with at work.

You could talk to your GP or asthma nurse about job choices which workplaces could cause asthma symptoms in your annual asthma review.

Find out more about occupational asthma and asthma at work.

Leaving home

There are a few steps you can take to make sure you stay on top of your asthma when you leave home:

Register with a new doctor

If you’ve moved to a new area, you’ll need to register with a new doctor. You can use the NHS website to find your nearest GP practice. Make an appointment with your GP to review your asthma action plan, and set up a repeat prescription so you’ve always got a new inhaler before you run out.

Let your housemates know about your asthma

If you’re living with other people, let them know about your asthma and what they should do if you have an attack. You could share a copy of your asthma action plan with them.

Prepare for triggers that you might be exposed to

Triggers like pollution or pollen might be worse in the area you’re moving to, or you may be exposed to dust mites, mould, or cigarette smoke in your new home.

Take your preventer inhaler every day as prescribed so that you’re less likely to react to new triggers. And remember to always carry your reliever inhaler with you.

You could keep up with pollution and pollen levels in your area by using the Met Office weather app.

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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