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Back to School with Asthma: From Backpacks to Quick-Relief Inhalers

kids running in a hallway

If you are a parent of a child with asthma, you may worry about your child’s health along with their grades. As millions of kids get ready to head back to school, remember to add these items to your Back-to-School Checklist to help you and your child prepare for a successful, healthy school year.

  • An Asthma Action Plan is a written, individualized worksheet that shows you the steps to take to keep asthma symptoms from worsening. Also available in Spanish, the plan provides guidance on when to call your child’s doctor or when to go to the emergency room during an asthma episode. Use your child’s yearly check-up or school physical to create or revise their Asthma Action Plan with their doctor. This is an excellent time to adjust medicines as necessary and get prescriptions for back-up medications for your school nurse, coaches, after-school program and other individuals helping with your child's care. 
  • If your child has fall allergies, talk with their doctor about starting allergy medication early as a preventative measure which will make asthma symptoms less likely to occur. Also, you will want to make sure that your child is using their daily long-term control medicine, if prescribed, and using the correct technique with this medicine. Following these tips will help control their asthma symptoms for the upcoming school year.
  • All 50 states have laws that allow children to self-carry and use their asthma inhalers at school. For a child who is struggling to breathe, the trip from the classroom or playground to the school health room for medication can be dangerously far. The Self-Carry Assessment Tool will help determine if the student is ready to carry and self-administer their asthma medication. If your child is not quite ready to self-carry, the Self-Carry Assessment Tool will help create a plan to learn the necessary skills that will ensure they are ready to self-carry their medicine.
  • Proper use of medicines can relieve symptoms and cut the risk of episodes. Parents should ensure their children know how to use their medication correctly. Check with their doctor on whether your child should use a metered dose inhaler with a spacer or a valve holding chamber. Students are encouraged to demonstrate using their inhalers or nebulizer with their asthma care provider. Watch the Lung Association training videos for extra practice before heading back to school.
  • Brush up on your asthma knowledge with Asthma Basics, our free, online course. Asthma Basics teaches how to recognize and manage asthma triggers, as well as how to respond to a breathing emergency. Also encourage your child’s teachers, school nurses and coaches to take the course. Asthma Basics is also available in Spanish.
  • Lastly, from your home to the classroom, air pollution from dust, fragrances, mold or even the classroom hamster can affect how children learn and harm their growing lungs. Parents and teachers can encourage their schools and districts to adopt programs to maintain good indoor air quality by learning the signs of unhealthy air, make school property tobacco-free, consider using an air purifier, and adopting a school bus anti-idling program.

Asthma accounts for nearly 14 million lost school days every year but with a bit of preparation, parents, teachers, and school nurses can help make sure students are healthy and in class.

Developed in partnership with Philips Healthcare.

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Related Topic: Health & Wellness


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