Controlling asthma effectively at school can help your child's ability to learn and participate in activities. Knowing that your child's school is ready to handle an asthma emergency can mean less worry for you. Francine Pearce, MD, a pediatrician with Franciscan Physician Network, shares tips to help prepare for a new school year when your child has asthma.
Just like any other child, students who have asthma need exercise and should be encouraged to participate in physical activities that are appropriate. Your child should have access to any medications that might be needed before or after aerobic exercise, whether it's for PE class or recess.
Having asthma doesn't keep a child from participating from sports such as basketball and soccer. Talk with your healthcare provider before your child begins any exercise program or sport.
Many things in our environment can trigger asthma flare-ups, including weather changes, colds, flu, mold, dust and pollens. If you know of annual seasonal allergen such as ragweed, Dr. Pearce advocates talking to your physician early in the season, before major flare-ups occur.
"Parents who know they have children with asthma-like symptoms, allergic rhinitis, that kind of thing, really need to be into their doctor in August so that we can start the preventive medications," she said. "If you know your child every fall, flares up with asthma, now is the time to be seeing your pediatrician and starting those preventative medications."
With your pediatrician or healthcare provider, create an asthma action plan for your child to share with teachers, nurses and other school staff.
"One of the most important things is to make sure you have your medications available to you, and then communicate with the school so that should your child have a flare-up or any issues that come up at school, the nurse is not blind-sided by it," Dr. Pearce said.
A written plan helps in the event of an emergency or in case another adult, such as a substitute teacher, is overseeing your child when an asthma attack occurs.
Your asthma action plan may include these topics:
Make sure your child is comfortable speaking up when symptoms are occurring, Dr. Pearce said.
"Let them know, when you're short of breath, when your coughing starts more, please let your teacher know, because some children may just sit there and not understand that they should actually say something," she said. "Remind your child if they are feeling this way, to let the nurse or your teacher know, so that they'll know what to do early on."