School-year asthma control: A little planning goes a long way
In the weeks after school starts, there is a peak in asthma exacerbations (attacks), but with adequate preparation, asthma can be controlled.
- If your child is on a daily controller medication, make extra sure they are taking this medication every day to reduce inflammation in the airway. These medications take time to work effectively so don’t wait for symptoms. This is the best way to prevent a cold from becoming a major flare-up.
- Schedule a follow-up with your child’s doctor to get an updated Asthma Action Plan. Give a copy to the school and keep a copy for yourself. The Asthma Action Plan allows the school to provide proper care for your child. The nurse cannot give your child any rescue medication (albuterol) without this form. This form answers some important questions like:
- Do they only take their albuterol as needed for symptoms?
- Do they take their medication before exercise (PE/recess)?
- Can they carry their own inhaler or do they need to go to the school clinic to get the medicine?
- How much medication should be given and when should it be given?
- Know your child’s triggers and share this information with the school. Decreasing exposure to triggers can help decrease asthma symptoms and prevent attacks. Remember that colds and respiratory infections are the number one trigger for all children, so be on the lookout for early signs like a runny nose or sore throat.
- Communication is the key to successfully managing asthma at school.
- Have a conversation with your child’s teachers, so they can recognize your child’s asthma symptoms and discuss when your child should be sent to the school clinic.
- Meet with the school nurse to review the Asthma Action Plan.
- Meet with any other employees that may be a caregiver to your child including bus drivers, coaches and PE teachers. They should all be instructed on triggers, symptoms and treatment.
- Get your child their flu shot. Colds and flu are the number one trigger for asthma attacks. The flu shot is a safe and easy way to prevent a serious illness.
Other things to think about
- Make sure all contact numbers are up to date so the school can contact you.
- Provide an unopened inhaler and a spacer to the school.
- If your child is carrying their own inhaler and spacer, talk about where to keep it and how to use it.
- Talk to your child about when to go to the teacher for asthma.
- If your child’s symptoms are preventing them from participating in activities, call us. With the right treatment, your child should still be able to participate in PE, sports and all other physical activity.