As students head back to school, the American Lung Association highlights tips for families of children with asthma and stresses the importance of crafting a plan to properly manage asthma in a school environment.
Affecting an estimated seven million children under the age of 18, including more than 33,500 children in Hawaii, asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood disorders in the nation. It is also one of the primary illness-related reasons that students miss school, accounting for more than 14 million lost school days each year.
Asthma is the third-leading cause of hospitalization for children under 15. In 2009, nearly one-third of people with asthma experienced at least one episode, or attack—with children 36 percent more likely than adults to have an asthma episode.
In preparation for the school year ahead, the American Lung Association urges parents who have children with asthma to complete the following checklist:
Learn about asthma
The American Lung Association has many free resources to help you and your child learn how to keep asthma in good control. Well controlled asthma is the key to helping your child stay healthy and active.
Visit www.lung.org/asthma to learn about asthma and asthma management. Visit Lungtropolis along with your 5- to 10-year-old child. You’ll find action-packed games designed to help kids control their asthma — plus advice for parents like you.
Talk to the school nurse
Together, you and the school nurse, along with your child’s health care provider, can work to reduce asthma triggers and manage symptoms while in school. Discuss your child’s asthma triggers and steps to reduce them in the classroom.
Ask about the school’s asthma emergency plan, and if coaches, teachers and staff are trained in how to recognize asthma symptoms and respond to a breathing emergency.
Schedule asthma check-up
Each school year should begin with a visit to your child’s health care provider for an asthma check-up. This check-up is the best time to make sure your child is on the right amount of medicine for their asthma, to fill-out any forms required by the school and to create an asthma management plan. Kids with asthma should visit their health care provider every three to six months, depending on how often your child is having symptoms.
Develop an asthma action plan
An asthma action plan is a written worksheet created by your health care provider and tailored to your child’s needs. The plan includes a list of their asthma triggers and symptoms, the names of their medicines and how much medicine to take when needed. The plan also explains the steps to take to manage an asthma episode and a breathing emergency. An asthma action plan should always be on file in the school nurse’s office and easily accessible to anyone who may need to help your child use their inhaler.
For additional information on asthma and children, including a downloadable version of this checklist with even more details, visit www.lung.org/asthma or call 1-800-LUNG-USA. For more information about the American Lung Association in Hawaii or to support the work it does, call 537-5966 or visit www.lung.org/hawaii.