Asthma affects 11% of school-age children, and it will cause them to miss some 13 million days of school this year!
The American Lung Association has released the following back to school asthma checklist to help parents ensure that their child’s asthma doesn’t interfere with academics:
- Schedule an asthma check-up: Even if your child’s condition is well controlled, meeting with your pediatrician is also an opportunity to evaluate medications and physical activity restrictions.
- Confirm medicines are up-to-date and fill prescriptions: If your child uses an inhaler, ensure you have a current prescription for the new HFA inhaler (the old CFC inhalers will now longer be available after Dec. 31, 2008). Ensure your child’s asthma prescriptions have sufficient refills available and have not expired.
- Know about prescription assistance services: Two organizations can help if you have issues affording your child’s asthma medication. The Partnership for Prescription Assistance can be reached at 1-888-4PPA-NOW. Rx Outreach provides online help at www.rxoutreach.com.
- Have an asthma action plan: An asthma action plan details personal information about the child’s asthma symptoms, medications, any physical activity limitations, and provides specific instructions about what to do if an asthma attack does not improve with prescribed medication. Provide this to all of your student’s teachers, coaches, the school nurse, and the front office administrators.
- Meet with your child’s school nurse and teachers: Discuss with your child’s teachers specific triggers and typical symptoms. Learn if the school allows students to carry and independently administer their asthma medication. Learn what steps need to be taken to have your child carry and use his or her inhaler if recommended by a doctor.
- Know your school’s asthma emergency plan: Ensure that your child’s school knows how to contact you in case of an emergency. You should also know the school’s past history of dealing with asthma episodes. Confirm that school staffers – including after-school coaches and bus drivers – have been trained to respond to asthma emergencies.
Too many times, children have ended up in the hospital (or worse) simply because the adults around them did not recognize the signs of an asthma attack – or did not know what to do about it. Asthma is so common among children now that most schools have asthma emergency plans, but don’t assume – find out for sure!
Make sure your child knows what to do during an emergency, too. Anxiety can make an asthma attack worse. If your child remains confident and calm, the attack will pass more easily.
Asthma often gets worse at night, and these two environmental control measures can help a great deal. Learn More about Air Purifiers for Asthma
Also avoid using harsh chemicals in the home. Cigarette smoke, perfumes, and cleaning chemicals can trigger asthma attacks. Replace chemical cleaners with a vapor steam cleaner, which uses only regular water and heat to sanitize surfaces.