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Is Your School Asthma-proof?

The CDC estimates 1 in 12 children suffer from asthma. Controlling a child’s asthma symptoms is a community effort. Parents, caregivers, and schools must work together to educate, treat, and prevent asthma flare-ups. The first step is having a clear and comprehensive asthma action plan that you can share with your child’s school or daycare. This post will help you make a plan for your child’s asthma so their caregivers have the tools, knowledge, and resources to treat them when you are not around. 

Why Should Schools Be Concerned About Asthma?

In India, 5 to 10% of children who attend school have asthma. In the U.S., 50% of asthmatic children suffered an asthma attack in 2016. Consider this: your child spends between six to seven hours of their day at school in someone else’s care. Schools should educate and train teachers to act fast at the onset of asthma symptoms or an asthma attack. Here’s why parents need to ensure their child’s school is prepared:

  • Asthma attacks require swift action. An asthma attack always requires medical attention. By educating the right people and being prepared for asthma attacks, you can minimize the severity and keep your kids safe at school. A minor attack can usually be treated with the rescue inhaler on hand at school. An attack that goes unnoticed can be life-threatening. 
  • A child may not be able to communicate what is happening to them. A child may not be able to communicate that they are struggling with their asthma. Teachers must be able to recognize asthma symptoms and know how to respond. Here are four of the most common asthma symptoms:  shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, being tired and lethargic 
  • Air pollution in megacities could increase the chance of an asthma attack. There’s a correlation between increased air pollution levels and asthma attacks at school. Toxic air levels forced more than 430 schools in Bangkok to close in January 2019 for two days. The school district said it was the best way to protect students’ health. Cancelling school helped decrease local traffic pollution and drones were used to spray a liquid substance over the city to try to disperse the hazardous particulate matter. In India, Delhi’s Chief Minister has described the city as a gas chamber. In 2017, the megacity experienced a public health emergency when toxic levels of particulate matter filled the air. 30 schools in Delhi have since created clubs to educate students and teachers about asthma and how to respond to symptoms.
  • Asthma issues can impact a child’s learning capabilities. Asthma is the reason behind more than 13 million school absences a year. The Environmental Protection Agency says children with uncontrolled asthma tend to have poorer academic performance due to their struggles with the disease. 

What Can You Do To Protect Your Child From An Asthma Attack At School?

A comprehensive asthma action plan involving parents, caregivers, and schools is the best way to keep a child’s disease in check and prevent asthma attacks. Asthma can’t be cured, but it can be controlled. Here are the ways school districts can take a proactive approach to asthma care:

  1. Educate and train school staff and students. Find out what your child’s school does to train their teachers and staff to deal with asthmatic children. The Lung Care Foundation recommends all school staff, students, and parents with asthmatic children take an asthma education course. Students can play a vital role in identifying asthma symptoms in their peers. The Lung Care Foundation suggests having asthma buddies in the classroom who can alert an adult about a potential asthma attack. 
  2. Form an asthma task force. A school can develop an asthma task force to make sure asthmatic children are covered in the classroom, playground, and field trips. An asthma task force makes sure there is an emergency plan in place. The group can also help motivated a school district to improve environmental factors impacting asthmatics such as building air flow, humidity levels, and mold issues. 
  3. Invest in healthy school buildings. We know air quality can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Caregivers can help their child’s school identify if the school environment is playing a role in their child’s asthma flare-ups. The EPA created an app to help schools assess indoor air quality and improve it. 
  4. Pay attention to air quality levels in your home and around town. Understanding air quality levels in your area will help you make healthy choices for your asthmatic. An air quality monitor can help you know when to open windows, when to close them, and when to avoid exercising or playing outdoors. 

Provide The School With An Asthma Action Plan

An asthma action plan is a comprehensive guide you can give your child’s caregivers. It covers symptoms, triggers, emergency response directions, medication, and emergency contact information.

Provide an asthma action sheet for the nurse, teacher, and caregiver. Here is another asthma action sheet option. Label the rescue inhaler with your child’s name. Your child should demonstrate how they use their inhaler in front of the school nurse and teacher. 

You may choose to include a peak flow meter with your child’s medication bag. A peak flow meter can help your child’s caregiver accurately assess the severity of their asthma symptoms. Put the inhaler, peak flow meter, and asthma action plan in a clear ziplock bag for organization and efficiency. 

Want to learn more? Check out our latest ebook: 

Free Guide on Asthma & Air Pollution: All You Need to Know


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