Wheeze and Asthma

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What is Asthma?

Asthma is the most common long-term medical condition affecting children and young people. 1 in 10 children and young people are affected by the condition, meaning 240,000 have asthma in London.
Asthma is a long-term condition that affects your airways – the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. It usually causes symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and breathlessness. If you come into contact with one of your asthma triggers, it can make your symptoms worse and even bring on an asthma attack.  If you have asthma you have ‘sensitive’ airways that are inflamed and ready to react when they come into contact with something they don't like leading to:
  1. The muscles around the walls of the airways tighten so that the airways become narrower
  2. The lining of the airways becomes inflamed and starts to swell
  3. Sticky mucus or phlegm sometimes builds up, which can narrow the airways even more.
These reactions in the airways make it difficult to breathe and lead to asthma symptoms, such as chest tightness, wheezing, or coughing. It can also lead to an asthma attack.
The Paediatric Primary Care (PPC) nursing team review Asthma and Viral Induced Wheeze in children and young people who are aged between 18 months and 18 years with the aim of preventing further wheeze or asthma attacks, provides tailored care plans to help to control wheeze or asthma and can step up management plans if needed.

What is Viral Induced Wheeze?

Viral induced wheeze is when the tubes carrying air to the lungs (airways) become irritated and inflamed by a cold virus. This causes the tubes to swell and narrow making it more difficult for your child to breath. Viral induced wheeze is common, affecting nearly a third of all children, but your child is more likely to develop it if they were born early, if they have ever had bronchiolitis or if they are exposed to cigarette smoke.

Is Viral Induced Wheeze the same as Asthma?

No, although the flare ups (exacerbations) look very similar to an asthma attack, children with viral induced wheeze are completely well between episodes, unlike children with asthma.

Can my child outgrow their Asthma/Viral Induced wheeze?

Most children with viral induced wheeze will slowly improve year on year and often have grown out of their condition completely by the time they reach school age. A small number of children will go on to develop asthma in the future.

Can asthma kill when it is not well treated?

Yes, asthma can kill when treatment plans are not followed and medical attention is not sought when needed.

Can Asthma or Viral Induced Wheeze be cured?

No, Asthma/Viral Induced Wheeze cannot be cured but can be well controlled with medication that is prescribed by a medical professional.

How often should Asthma/Viral Induced Wheeze be reviewed?

Even if the child or young person’s asthma is well controlled they should be reviewed annually by their General Practitioner (GP) or another Health Care Professional.

Why is the annual Asthma review important?

The annual asthma review enables the health care professionals to review/monitor and adjust treatment to ensure you are symptom free. Annual reviews can also help to prevent further asthma attacks.

Last updated09 Jul 2021
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