Back-to-school checklist for children with asthma
Six tips to start a happy, healthy school year.
Katie Mcpherson Published: 6/26/2018
No. 2 pencils: check. Composition book: check. New lunchbox: check. The beginning of the school year means stocking up on new supplies, getting vaccinations, student orientation and open houses.
The list of preparations is a little longer for children with asthma, but following it ensures they’ll have a safe, healthy school year. Carey Smith, RRT, lead asthma educator for THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children's Hospital, has six tips for how parents of children with asthma can set their kids up for success this school year.
1. Make sure your child’s inhaler is ready.
“Check it to ensure it’s not expired and it still has medication in the canister. I prefer any child have a new one before going to school, but make sure it still has at least 100 inhalations,” Smith explained.
2. Meet your child’s teacher before school starts.
“Attend the school’s open house or make an appointment before school starts to speak with the teacher,” Smith said. “Ask them what they know about asthma, and make sure they know the signs to look for like wheezing and coughing. If there is a school nurse on campus, speak with him or her beforehand. It makes a huge difference when you can trust who you’re leaving your child with, and they know when to call you.”
3. Provide the teacher and the school nurse with your child’s Asthma Action Plan.
“Take your son or daughter’s Asthma Action Plan with you. This will show the teacher and the nurse which medications they’re taking, how often they’re supposed to take them, and detailed steps to take in an emergency,” said Smith. “The Asthma Action Plan is the best thing for a teacher or school nurse to have so they have a plan in place.”
4. Renew your child’s Asthma Action Plan each year.
“In the Asthma Action Plan, there’s a line on the form a doctor can sign that authorizes that child to carry an inhaler at school. Parents should complete a new one every year, or every time the child gets a new medication. We recommend giving one to the teacher and one to the school nurse. Parents should also keep a copy for themselves at home,” Smith said.
5. Take your child to get the flu shot early.
“Kids with asthma are more susceptible to respiratory viruses and infections, and they tend to get sicker a lot easier,” said Smith. She reminded parents there have been flu vaccine shortages in the past few years and advised taking your child to the pediatrician’s office early to ensure they can receive the shot before school starts.
Of course, getting vaccinated only protects against the flu, but other illnesses can be prevented if you remind your child to wash his hands regularly to stay well year-round.
6. Talk to your child about how to get help in an emergency.
“Sometimes adults find children with asthma in the bathroom because they’re having an attack and they get embarrassed. By the time someone finds them, they’re really sick. Talk to your kids about telling their teacher or another adult when something is wrong,” said Smith.
You can print a free Asthma Action Plan for your child at the Community Asthma Partnership at Wolfson website.
Wolfson Children's Hospital is one of four Asthma-Friendly Hospitals in the state, designated by The Florida Asthma Coalition. The Asthma-Friendly Hospital designation is awarded to hospitals that excel in asthma management, reducing health risks for asthma patients and preventing and minimizing asthma-related ER visits and hospitalizations.