For the close to 7 million children living with asthma, gearing up for another school year involves much more than picking out a new pencil case and backpack. Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15 and one of the main reasons that students miss school due to illness, with more than 10 million lost school days every year. With better asthma management, children are able to feel healthy and safe, and are ready to learn!
To get ready for a successful school year, the American Lung Association recommends this back-to-school checklist:
1. Take an asthma refresher. Even the most knowledgeable of parents and kids need a refresher. Take advantage of the American Lung Association’s free asthma educational programs – with different audiences in mind for each:
o Asthma Basics is a one-hour interactive online learning module ideal for all adults – from parents and school nurses, those suffering from asthma themselves, and even healthcare professionals. In this self-paced learning tool, Asthma Basics covers asthma triggers and how to identify and reduce them, action plans when flare-ups do happen, how to respond to a breathing emergency, asthma medication tutorials, and an asthma management plan template.
o Open Airways for Schools is a school-based curriculum that educates and empowers children ages 8 – 11 to detect the warning signs of asthma, avoid asthma triggers and make decisions about their health. Taught by a trained Instructor, Open Airways consists of six 40-minute group lessons and incorporates an interactive teaching approach utilizing group discussion, stories, games and role play. Facilitator trainings are offered periodically. If interested, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
o Lungtropolis is a web game for children ages 5 – 10 that teaches them tips on how to control their asthma while playing a game. The city of Lungtropolis is under attack, and it’s up to the asthma control agents to conquer the mucus mob!
2. Develop an Asthma Action Plan with your health care provider. Children with asthma should visit their health care provider at least once a year. This yearly check-up is a good time to check the effectiveness of asthma medication and dosage, as well as to create or revise an Asthma Action Plan. Tailored to each individual, this written worksheet includes a list of asthma triggers and symptoms, medications and dosages, and the steps to take to manage an asthma episode and a breathing emergency. These plans are good for babysitters and family members, teachers and school nurses.
3. 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. The American Lung Association has created a Self-Carry Assessment Tool for school nurses and parents to use in gauge the readiness of their child, which can help with emergency visits to the school nurse.
4. Talk to your school nurse and teachers. Whether by phone or in-person, this is a good time to go over your updated Asthma Action Plan, the school’s self-carry policies, what medication should be at the school, and any required medical forms.
More information on asthma resources for parents can be accessed through the Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA or online at www.Lung.org/Asthma.