If you have asthma and are getting ready to sit an exam this year, it is important that you get your symptoms under control as early as possible.
How to Cope with Asthma at Exam Time
- See your doctor well in advance (no later than the Easter holidays) to make sure you are on the correct treatment and that your asthma is under control.
- Follow your health professional’s advice on preventive inhalers and stick to your individualised Asthma Action Plan. Go for follow-up advice if you feel that your asthma is not fully under control.
- It is important to make sure that you have your reliever available at all times. This is particularly important during the exams where you will be sitting in a hall for hours at a time.
- It is important to deal with asthma triggers so that you don’t experience an exacerbation that could lead to you missing the exams all together. If you have a cold, a sore throat or a nose infection, deal with this promptly. Try to avoid situations where you end up in a smoky room, as this may cause wheezing.
Up to 80% of people with asthma also have allergic rhinitis. So as well as looking at your personal asthma management plan, it is important to make a plan for coping with allergic rhinitis and also looking after your health generally, especially during exam time.
Unfortunately, it is common for the start of the hot weather that leads to hay fever to coincide with the beginning of the school and college exams in May/June. Some people only have symptoms during the summer (seasonal allergic rhinitis or hay fever), others have symptoms all year round (perennial rhinitis). If you have asthma, allergic rhinitis can make asthma worse. Whether you have seasonal or perennial rhinitis, a combination of avoiding the allergens that affect you and taking effective medication is the most successful way of controlling symptoms.
- Talk to your doctor around Easter or just afterwards and get advice on treatment.
- Don’t wait for symptoms to appear.
Once your seasonal allergic rhinitis is under control you will find yourself sleeping better at night. You will feel much fresher during the day and will be able to concentrate much harder on your revision. You obviously feel a lot better if you are not sneezing, sniffing or rubbing your eyes all the time.
The general advice to students is to be sensible about self-care:
- Take breaks from study and go for a walk or take some type of exercise that you are already used to. If you overdo your study, this can lead to tiredness, lack of concentration and even muscle fatigue.
- If you feel stressed or emotional about your exams, talk to someone.
- A balanced diet is important to maintain energy levels and good heath. Proper meals are important - eating snack foods is more likely to make you feel sluggish and tired.
- A good night’s sleep is essential for health and wellbeing and is likely to enhance the value of study and help exam performance.
Before the Exam Starts
See your doctor well in advance (no later than the Easter holidays) to make sure you have got the right treatment.
- Don't forget to take your medication!
- Tell the adjudicator if your seasonal allergic rhinitis is bothering you.
- Splash your eyes with cold water before going into the exam room.
- Try not to sit near an open window.
- Keep a supply of tissues and effective, quick-acting treatments close at hand just in case.