For the more than 6 million children in the U.S. living with asthma, gearing up for another school year involves much more than picking out a new pencil case and backpack. Accounting for nearly 14 million lost school days each year, asthma is one of the main illness-related reasons that students miss school.
With better asthma management, children are able to feel healthy, safe and ready to learn! For a full toolkit and free resources from the American Lung Association, visit Lung.org/asthma-in-schools.
To get ready for a successful school year, the American Lung Association recommends this back-to-school checklist for families with asthma:
1. Schedule a check-up with your child’s physician. Use your yearly check-up to create or revise your Asthma Action Plan, check the effectiveness of asthma medication and dosage, get prescriptions for back-up medications for your school nurse and coaches, as well as ensure your child knows how to use his or her asthma medicines.
2. Assess your child’s readiness to self-carry medication. All 50 states have laws that allow children to self-carry and use their asthma inhalers at school. Use the American Lung Association’s Self-Carry Assessment Tool to see if your child is ready to carry and self-administer asthma medication. The assessment tool will help parents create a plan for children not yet ready to self-administer medication, as well as help children learn the necessary skills throughout the school year.
3. Set up an appointment with your school nurse. Remember to bring in your updated Asthma Action Plan and back-up medications. Take this time to sign all required medical forms, discuss whether your child can self-carry their own quick-relief inhaler, as well as deliver any special instructions when it comes to physical activities and asthma emergencies that may happen during the school year.
4. How’s the air in there? Take a moment to talk to your child’s teacher about asthma, what triggers might bring on an attack and what to do in an emergency — whether that be to head directly to the school nurse or use his or her quick-relief inhaler. This may also be a great time to talk about the air quality in the classroom. Mold, fragrances and idling buses can all be asthma triggers for your child.
5. Introduce yourself to the PE teacher and any coaches. Kids with asthma shouldn’t have to miss out on playing outside or participating in gym class. You can quickly put teachers’ and coaches’ minds at ease by talking about exercise-induced asthma, ways to manage symptoms and what to do in an emergency.
6. Have fun! While it may take some proactive organizing at the start of the school year, you are helping to ensure that your child is safe and active throughout the school day. Take a deep breath and enjoy a healthy 2018-2019 school year!