17-year-old Benjamin Boukerma writes about the simple steps young people can make to control their asthma
Along with 1.1 million other young people in the UK, I have asthma. My name is Benjamin Boukerma and I am 16 and just starting my A levels. I am part of the HLP young people’s steering group, the Young Health Platform in Islington and a member of Whittington Health children and young people’s forum. These groups aim to get young people involved in shaping their own health and care. This is important to me as the right asthma management has meant I can lead a normal, active and healthy life.
There are a number of small simple steps that help young people manage their asthma such as inhaler technique, knowing what triggers your asthma, having an annual review and having an asthma management plan.
Having good inhaler technique is really important. This involves using a spacer and using long deep breaths as it allows a larger amount of the medication to reach your lungs. Taking your inhaler morning and night is a key part of managing your asthma but for me I struggled to remember. To overcome this I now leave my preventer inhaler next to my toothbrush. This really helps because now when I brush my teeth I take my inhaler, whether I am at home or away.
It’s also really important to know what triggers your asthma. Asthma triggers can be a number of things including smoke, pollution or cold weather. These triggers should be added to your management plan and form part of your annual review.
Having an annual asthma review gives you a deeper understanding of what asthma is and how your medication works to get your asthma back on track.
During your annual review you are given your average peak flow. This is used on your asthma management plan to assess what you should do if you are a percentage under your peak flow when you are well. For example, if your peak flow is 50% under your average you should take 10 puffs of your reliever inhaler. If your symptoms don’t improve then it will tell you to call 999 or go to A&E. During an asthma attack every second counts so having my information and the actions to take written down is very useful.
The AskAboutAsthma campaign is great as it is encouraging GPs and other clinicians to understand what is needed to successfully manage asthma locally. For me being able to visit my GP about my asthma would be much easier than having to go to hospital which means missing school, lots of time spent travel and waiting around.
It is really important for London to support young people managing their asthma. Local effective management of asthma will reduce the pressure on our health service and if asthma is managed well in young people their transition to adulthood will hopefully mean they need less support.
About the author
Benjamin Boukerma is 17 and part of the Healthy London Partnership’s young people’s steering group, the Young Health Platform in Islington and a member of Whittington Health children and young people’s forum.
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