Asthma in Adolescents – A Different Problem
Asthma in adolescents has its own set of rules when it comes to management and treatment. The illness is the same, but dealing with the young person who has it usually requires a different approach.
Teenagers hate to be different when it's not in a good way. The thought of being judged or ridiculed, in their minds, is usually far out of proportion in the amount of drama that ensues than for any other age.
That said, the level of importance peer acceptance has in their lives is, in a sense, largely out of their control. Childhood wasn't that long ago and yet they find themselves in the body of an adult and an immature sense of self. Here are some thoughts on how parents might help.
Be sure your teen is involved in any decision making and is not talked down to or left out of the conversation. Even if they are in denial, which they often are.
It's vital to know that asthma can be controlled, even though it can't be cured. Set up an asthma action plan to deal with acute reactions and/or emergencies. The plan consists of
- avoiding triggers
- staying on top of early flare ups and treat them right away
- combating an escalating flareup
- knowing when it's time to get emergency help
Triggers vary from person to person. Here is a link to an asthma action plan form from kidshealth.org.
Education also involves the staff at school. It helps to be discreet to lessen any embarrassment.
There is often a combination of quick acting and long acting meds. Often teens can take most of their prescriptions at home and carry an inhaler.
Sometimes adolescents feel so good when their breathing is not a problem that they start to forget to take it, so having it become part of daily routine is important.
If you are worried about your teen complying with their medications you can have them use a peak flow meter to measure their respiratory capacity.
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Parents wonder if their children can take part in sport activities. Some kids may get an asthma attack when they participate in exercises like running. But with proper management a teenager with asthma can actively participate in sports. Aerobic exercise can improve airway function.
Sometimes teens shy away from being active around their friends in case they have an attack. Try to help them as soon as possible to avoid them getting depressed; seek counseling or a peer support group if possible.