Summer’s coming to an end, which means it’s back to school time! We want to remind parents and teachers of the annual peak in asthma flare-ups in the weeks after school starts. Hospitalizations for childhood asthma increase during the fall months as children go back to school, and asthma remains the leading cause of school absenteeism.
Below are some tips to help your child with asthma be prepared for the new school year:
1. Visit your doctor before school starts and prepare an Asthma Action Plan for your child that should include medications (dose and expiry date), peak flow chart where you could record changes on your peak flow zones, triggers that can make your asthma worse, and emergency phone numbers (doctors’ names, parents). Check the effectiveness of asthma medication and dosage, and get prescriptions for back-up medications.
2. Meet with the appropriate school staff (school nurse, PE teacher) to review your child’s Asthma Action Plan.
3. Ensure your child has all the supplies necessary to control his or her asthma symptoms and check medication expiration dates. Keep a peak flow meter, spacer, and rescue medicine at the school. Asses their ability to carry their own medicine and self-administer which can save precious time in an asthma episode.
4. Minimize allergens. Allergens can trigger asthma, ask your doctor how to avoid and reduce child’s exposure. Some pollens and mold spike in late summer or early fall – take medications before symptoms get worse.
5. If your child has food allergies, ensure to notify the school of your child’s food allergies, discourage your child from sharing or eating foods that is not labeled and checked by an adult, and make sure the school has quick relief medications for your child.
7. It is usually unnecessary to miss school because of mild asthma symptoms which can be handled at school. However, talk to your child’s doctor about when it is recommended to stay home from school because of asthma, considering factors like: what triggered the asthma, stability of peak flows, fever, how much medicine your child is taking.
8. Communicate regularly with school staff to ensure your Asthma Action Plan is working. Monitoring your child’s asthma symptoms and peak flows at home and at school can be very helpful.