As the beginning of a new school year approaches, parents of children with asthma and allergies need to make sure that not only does their child recognize what triggers their symptoms and how to treat a flare-up, but also that their school knows what to do.
One of every 10 school-aged children in Kentucky has asthma, and these students miss an average of four school days each year, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Kentucky has one of the highest rates of asthma in the United States.
Nationally, more than 10 million kids under age 18 have asthma, 11 percent have respiratory allergies and about six percent have food allergies, according to according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. And on any given day, more than 10,000 kids miss school due to asthma.
Preventative care and avoiding triggers will help children miss fewer days in the classroom and will also allow them to be more productive in all of their activities, the college said in a news release.
“Parents need to be advocates for their kids, to help ensure they’re breathing well with clear minds and able to navigate the triggers that sometimes stand in their way,” Michael Foggs, president of the college. “If kids are having difficulty breathing, are sneezing, have runny noses and itchy eyes, and haven’t slept well the night before, they won’t perform at their best.”
Here are some tips to help with symptom-free days in the classroom and outdoors:
Create an action plan with your allergist specific to your child’s needs. Include medications, doses, triggers, early symptoms of flare-up and what to do if there is a flare up.&
Share your child’s action plan with your child’s teacher and whoever else might come into contact with your child every day. Discuss how independently your child is able to deal with their asthma, give them contact numbers for you and your child’s doctor and be sure your child and school staff knows how to work the peak flow meter and how to administer medications, especially if your child needs assistance.
Assess any triggers for your child at school: mold, dust mites, cockroaches, chalk dust, perfumes, cleaning products or other chemicals, animal dander, saliva or urine. Work on a plan to minimize these triggers.
Discuss how to handle emergencies. Children who are at risk for a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) also should have epinephrine to use. Be sure your child and school staff know how to use emergency medications.
If your child has food allergies, send a bagged lunch to school every day and instruct your child to not share foods, napkins or utensils.
Make sure you have a plan for recess and sports activities. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, Asthma and Immunology says in the release that “asthma symptoms during exercise may indicate poorly-controlled medications.”
Pay attention to the pollen counts if your child is allergic to pollen; it is suggested to start medications two weeks prior to when the levels are at their worst.
Proper asthma control helps kids sleep better at night, spend more time in the classroom, experience less anxiety about their condition and fully participate in all school activities, according to kidshealth.org.