For the more than six million children living with asthma nationwide, 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 in the U.S. 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. For a full toolkit and free resources, 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, and get prescriptions for back-up medications for your school nurse, coaches, after-school programs and other individuals helping with your child’s care.
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 his or her asthma medication, which can save precious time, as well as ease concern if your child has an asthma episode at school.
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 and talk about whether your child can self-carry his or her own quick-relief inhaler, and how to manage any asthma emergencies that may happen during the school year.
4. Talk to your classroom teacher.
Take a moment to talk to your child’s teacher about his or her asthma, what triggers might bring on an attack and what to do in an emergency—whether that is to head directly to the school nurse or use a quick-relief inhaler.
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 minds at ease by talking about exercise-induced asthma, ways to manage symptoms and what to do in an emergency.
6. Have fun!
There’s a lot to do at the start of the school year, but it can also be exciting to see old school friends and prep for a whole new year. Make sure to take a deep breath and enjoy.