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Sending Kids With Asthma Back to School

By: Kay Kufahl, RRT-NPS, LRT, AE-C and Barb Lehn, RRT-NPS, LRT, AE-C

It happens every year. Commonly called the September Asthma Epidemic, researchers have tracked a predictable increase in ER visits, hospital admissions and unscheduled doctor visits that peak 17 days after Labor Day — Sept. 23 this year.

The PHS Asthma Department offers this checklist for parents who are sending children with asthma back to school:

See your doctor before school begins (or as soon as you can) for an up-to-date asthma action plan for during the school day

  • As your child grows and changes, so does his or her action plan

Give the school a copy of your action plan

  • Different schools handle meds differently, so having your child’s action plan on file ensures a nurse won’t waste time and can properly administer the right treatment
  • In addition to the school nurse, ensure your child’s teacher and any staff member who will have regular contact with your child also has a copy of the asthma action plan. Teachers should also be aware of the child’s asthma.

Meet your child’s teacher

  • If your child has other medical conditions, you’re probably well-acquainted with your school’s nurse, teachers and other staff members
  • Tell the teacher about your child’s daily meds
  • Schedule a separate meeting with him or her if needed
  • Share details of your child’s early warning signs and symptoms of a severe flare
  • Ask if there will be any classroom pets or visits from animals
  • Discuss upcoming field trips
  • Talk about your older child having his or her inhaler with them; it’s legal in Minnesota, but you must complete the required permissions

Fill inhaler prescriptions before the first day

  • You may need a new quick reliever inhaler for school
  • Have one inhaler for school; one for home
  • Check inhalers
  • Make sure the valved holding chamber is in good working condition
  • Remember, inhalers expire: make sure yours are not expired

If you use a liquid quick reliever, bring it and a few hand held nebulizer kits to school

  • Don’t forget the mask
  • Ensure you have enough hand held nebulizer kits for home and school use

Continue to use your daily controller medications

  • Remember, these take time to build up in the body so staying on a schedule is important

Stay in tune

  • Make changes to your asthma action plan and communicate these to your child’s school nurse and teacher

What helps your child with asthma to avoid episodes during the school year? What works for your family and your school?

We’d love to hear from you.

Originally published: September 2, 2010