(StatePoint) While heading back to school may mean buying supplies, for parents of children with asthma, getting ready requires additional steps. Asthma accounts for more than 10 million lost school days every school year.
If you know a child living with asthma, you may be concerned about their activity in sports and at recess, especially if the child’s asthma is exercise-induced. With better asthma management, children are able to stay safe and active! For a full toolkit and free resources, visit Lung.org/asthma-in-schools.
To gear up for a successful school year, the American Lung Association recommends this back-to-school checklist:
1. Get back to the basics. Take an hour to brush up on asthma basics. Take the American Lung Association’s online course to ensure you’re armed with the knowledge of what causes asthma flare-ups, the importance of an asthma action plan, and what to do when breathing becomes difficult.
2. Assess your child’s readiness to self-carry medication. All 50 states have laws that allow children to self-carry and use their quick-relief asthma inhaler at school. Having immediate access to quick-relief medicine is critical in reversing asthma symptoms to avoid a crisis. However, schools and parents often use age alone as a measure as to whether the student can self-carry. Use the American Lung Association’s Student Readiness Assessment Tool to see if your child is ready to carry and self-administer asthma medication, as well as get informed about your school’s asthma medication policy.
3. Take advantage of an annual check-up or school physical. Schedule an appointment with your child’s doctor and use it as an opportunity to create or revise your Asthma Action Plan. This is also a great time to take a look at your child’s asthma medications. As your child gets older, his or her asthma needs may change and this may be the school year for an update.
4. Set an appointment with your school nurse. Remember to share your Asthma Action Plan, which can serve as an authorization form, along with any back-up medications, with your school nurse. Take this time to sign all required medical forms, share whether your child can self-carry their own quick-relief inhaler, and discuss how to manage any asthma emergencies that may happen during the school year.
5. It’s a team effort. Speak with school teachers, nurses and PE teachers or coaches, sharing details about your child’s asthma, his or her triggers and what to do in case of an emergency. It’s also important to have a plan with school personnel on what to do in case of an emergency — whether that be for your child to head directly to the school nurse or to use their quick-relief inhaler.