Monday, August 01, 2011

A is for Asthma: Preparing Your Asthmatic Child for Back to School

Photo by Photostock
For parents of an asthmatic child, back to school doesn’t only mean a return to class it also means gearing up for a new season of meds, colds and potential hospital visits.

“Since my son’s first year at preschool we’ve made at least one hospital visit in September or early October,” says Stephanie Bristow, an Air Quality Expert with AllerAir. “At home we have all of our triggers under control and great tools to help us like a HEPA and carbon air purifier, but school brings on a whole new onslaught of viruses and pollutants that we can't control as effectively.”

To help prepare your family for back to school, consider adding these “to-do” items to your back-to-school checklist:

Schedule a doctor’s appointment to update or create an asthma action plan for your child

All students should have a detailed, written action plan. It should contain personal information about the child's asthma symptoms, triggers, medications, any physical activity limitations and provide very specific instructions about what the school (or you) should do if an asthma attack does not improve with prescribed medication. Make sure a copy of this plan is provided to your child’s teacher, school nurse and is added to his/her personal file.

Update your emergency contact list with the front office

Ensure that your child's school knows how to contact you in case of an emergency. Make sure that your home phone, cell phone, email address and the information for your secondary contacts is correct.

Know exactly how the school will handle an asthma emergency

Find out what your school’s policy is on dealing with asthma episodes. Ask how often the school nurse is on site and if staff, after-school coaches and bus drivers know what to do to respond to an asthma emergency.

Check your equipment and medication

Many schools require that younger children leave a set of their equipment and meds (aero chamber, rescue inhaler etc.) at school. Make sure to check expiry dates of these meds and double check to make sure items like aero chambers still property fit your child’s face. Some experts also recommend replacing chambers regularly as a film can actually build up on the inside of the tube and affect proper delivery of the medication.

Talk to your child about what to do

Especially with younger children, make sure they know exactly what to do if they feel like they’re having trouble breathing. Who should they go to first? Is it ok to interrupt their teachers? Can they administer their own meds? Leave class? Call you? Answering these questions in advance will help your child act promptly if they feel an attack coming on.


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