How to get health advice and support
Did you know that young people have the right to see their GP without a parent or carer? Your privacy will be taken very seriously and the GP will not share your information with anyone without your permission (except in very exceptional circumstances where they believe you are putting yourself or other people in danger).
If you would feel more comfortable using an anonymous service to get health advice, Chat Health is a messaging service for young people in Lambeth and Southwark. You can text a school nurse for advice on health and wellbeing issues including:
- self harm
- emotional health
- sexual health
You will receive a reply from a nurse within 1 working day. The service is open 9am - 5pm, Monday - Friday. However, you can text out of these hours and you will receive a reply when the service reopens.
The number for Chat Health is 07507 332150. For more information, please visit http://www.evelinalondon.nhs.uk/our-services/community/school-nursing-service/chat-health.aspx
The Well Centre is a Youth Health Centre in Streatham where you can see a GP, a counsellor or a youth worker. This service is specifically designed for young people aged 13-20. Again, it is completely confidential. You can even drop in, though it can be very busy so an appointment is recommended. For more information, please visit the Well Centre website.
Information for young people with asthma
Smoking or breathing in other people's smoke (second hand smoke) is a common trigger for asthma. All forms of tobacco; pipes, 'role ups', cigar and cigarettes release pollutants and chemicals which can irritate and inflame the lungs. Tobacco smoke includes a gas called carbon monoxide, this makes it hard for oxygen to move around the body and makes your lungs work harder. This can all increase your risk of having an asthma attack.
Smoking increases your risk of serious health diseases such as cancers, breathing problems and heart problems.
Shisha is common in London but thought to have the same risk for triggering your asthma and is linked to smoking related diseases. Shisha delivers a lot of smoke and smoking an hour of this is like smoking over 100 cigarettes. We have less information about the safety of electronic cigarettes in asthma and the long-term effects of using these. We know that they can contain chemicals including flavourings which can cause local irritation to the lungs but may be useful if you smoke other forms of tobacco in stepping down to stopping smoking.
If you are smoking, speak to your CYPHP asthma nurse, pharmacist or your GP about what we can do to help you to quit smoking.
You may be tempted to try recreational drugs, some of these are legal (tobacco and alcohol) and some are illegal but both types alter your mood and can be addictive.
It is important to know the facts and think about how having asthma may alter the experience which you expect from taking these. Illegal drugs like cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and spice amongst others alter your mood, they can affect both your physical and mental health.
Illegal drugs may make you feel more anxious such as cannabis which can bring on asthma symptoms. Other drugs may increase your energy levels such as speed and cocaine. This increased energy and activity may bring on your asthma symptoms. "Talk to Frank" gives additional information about the effects of drugs which may help you think about how they will affect you and your asthma. Think about what the drug is doing to your body as well as how you take an it; smoking or snorting drugs may cause irritation or inflammation within your lungs and cause asthma symptoms.
It is important that you keep yourself safe, remember to always have your reliever medicine when you go out. Ensure you take your preventer inhaler every day to make sure your lungs are as healthy as possible and have an up to date asthma action plan. If you are thinking about taking recreational drugs or already do so, why not speak to a member of your healthcare team for non-judgmental information and support.
Alcohol can be a trigger for your asthma and one you may not have come into contact with before. Around 6 in 10 people notice that their asthma is worse after alcohol - with red wine mostly like to cause symptoms due to ingredients in wine such as sulphites. Clear spirits are lower in additives which may trigger asthma. Depending on how sensitive you are, symptoms of breathlessness may develop quickly after having a drink or develop over hours.
Remember your asthma is changeable you may develop new triggers so be mindful when drinking. We would recommend that you keep your reliver inhaler with you, and let a trusted friend know about how to recognise your symptoms, keep a copy of your asthma plan on your phone so they know how to help you if you have symptoms. Our team is happy with your agreement to show your friends how to use your inhalers and help you if needed.
A recent survey by asthma charity Asthma UK found two-thirds of people experience asthma symptoms during sex or sexual activities. When you become sexually excited your breathing changes and your emotions heighten, these both can act as a trigger for asthma symptoms or an attack.
It is common for people to be nervous when starting a relationship and exploring sexual relationships; worrying about your asthma or stress can be a trigger. We would recommend you the speak to your partner about your asthma if you feel safe to do so. Avoiding positions which restrict your chest or put pressure on here may reduce your breathlessness and asthma symptoms. Though the best way to reduce the chance of having an asthma attack during sex is by having well controlled asthma. This means attending your asthma appointments, ensuring you are on the right type of medicines and know how to use these.
There are lots of things we can do to help, we can look at how to use your different medicines so feel free to speak to your asthma nurse, pharmacist or trusted healthcare team if you have any questions. You may be nervous about doing so, but we have these conversations every day and is not as embarrassing as you may think.
Information for young people with Epilepsy
If you're looking for more information about living with epilepsy, including information on alcohol and drugs, how epilepsy might affect your school life and how it might affect the activities you want to do, check out our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.
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