More than 13 million days of school are missed annually because of asthma, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
“With proper management, a child with asthma can dramatically reduce missed school days,” said Tracy Rife, the asthma and easy breathing program coordinator at Akron Children’s Robert T. Stone, MD, Respiratory Center. “The first step in controlling your child’s asthma is to work with his doctor to develop a written asthma action plan.”
This plan should include:
- A list of medications, along with dosages
- Asthma triggers that affect your child
- Early signs and symptoms of a flare-up
- Instructions on what to do when flare-ups occur
- Directions for peak-flow monitoring, if needed
- Guidance on dealing with exercise-induced asthma
- The completed school asthma action plan
Take the asthma action plan to your child’s school. You may want to meet with your child’s teacher and other staff, such as a school nurse, at the beginning of each school year to discuss:
- How well your child can handle her asthma independently
- How to reach you and your child’s doctor
- What might trigger flare-ups
- Contingency plans for dealing with asthma during field trips or other off-site activities
- Whether your child is old enough to handle his own monitoring and treatment
- How your child’s asthma will be managed if she is too young for self-care
- When to seek emergency care
Find out who will care for your child in case of flare-ups. Ideally, this will be a school nurse or other healthcare provider. Quick-relief medication should always be available to your child.
If your child isn’t old enough to self-administer the rescue medicine, then either the teacher should have it in the classroom or the school nurse’s office should have it available (not locked away).
If your child is old enough to recognize symptoms and treat them on his own, he should carry his medicine with him at all times. Your child’s physician may help determine at what age he can do this.
According to Ohio law, students may possess and use a metered dose inhaler or dry powder inhaler to ease asthmatic symptoms or prevent exercise-induced symptoms if:
- The student has written approval from her physician and parent or caretaker.
- The school principal and nurse has received copies of the written approvals.
The physician’s approval needs to include the student’s name and address, names and dosages of medications, the end date for the administration of the medications, written instructions regarding what to do if a medication does not provide relief, a description of possible adverse reactions and emergency telephone numbers.
By following these ABCs of asthma management, you and your child can more fully enjoy the new school year.