It is very important to educate your child about his/her asthma condition, and how to cope with it. Apparently, you would not be there always to help your child, so learning how to manage it in case of an episode would surely be of great help to him/her. This way, he/she can either handle the situation on his/her own or turn to the designated people for help.

Most of the schools in the US have several students that are asthma patients. That is why many teachers and school nurses are appointed to help children with the condition in case of an emergency. Yet again, taking steps on your side would be an added benefit; you can simply notify the school officials about your child’s condition and what measures they should take in case of an asthma episode.

Managing Asthma at School

Communication is the most crucial element in dealing with any recurring condition. You should talk to your kid and explain to him/her all the details possible about asthma, which he/she can understand and remember at his/her age. Most importantly, your child should be equipped with enough knowledge to keep track of his condition, when to take the medicines, and how to use an inhaler in case an asthma attack happens.

At the same time, talk to the school officials as well, and explain the details of your child’s condition to them. They should be aware of what factors could possibly trigger an attack, which medicines he/she should take, how to administer the required medicines, and where your kid keeps his/her inhaler. They should also be given a brief on what to do if your child experiences an asthma episode.

You should create a solid asthma action plan for your child as well, and spell out all the specific steps to be taken in case of an emergency. You can give a copy of this action plan to the school officials who are in charge of taking care of your child. You can even set up a personal meeting with your kid’s teachers and other school staff members to discuss the action plan and explain any other details they should be aware of.

Your kid’s asthma action plan should clearly mention what to do in case his/her condition gets worse and the inhaler is not doing any good to stop the symptoms. You should also make sure that the action plan has the contact number of your pediatric doctor as well as specifies which hospital he/she should be taken to in case the symptoms become aggravated and cannot be managed at the school. The action plan should also have your personal phone numbers as well as that of other guardians and friends whom the school can contact if required.

If possible, visit the school in person and check the classroom and other areas where your kid might need to go to while at the school. This way, you can understand if there are any potential allergens, which could aggravate his/her asthma condition and/or lead to an attack. If you find any such triggers, notify the school officials about the same and work with the staff to see if they can eliminate the potential risk factors.

When you visit the school, meet the school nurse personally and make sure that he/she has all the medicines that your kid might require during the school hours. You can also pass on any specific instructions, which you got from your family doctor, to the nurse on identifying your child’s breathing problems and/or using the inhaler. You should also ask the school nurse to keep track of the medicine in your child’s inhaler, and notify you to replace it as necessary.

The more people know about your child’s asthma, the better would be his/her chances to deal with the condition efficiently. Your list of people should at least include classroom teachers, PE teachers, substitute teachers, school nurse, counselor, and school principal. Even the bus driver and office staff should be made aware of your kid’s condition, so that they can take necessary steps in case of an emergency. All these people should know how to manage the situation if an asthma attack happens, when to contact you, when to call your child’s doctor, and when to call 911 for help.

Note that even though your kid is mature enough to manage his/her asthma symptoms on his/her own by using the inhaler in time, and can keep all the required medicines close by while at school, some states in the US have laws and policies that do not allow children to carry and/or use inhalers and other medications, like epinephrine auto-injectors, on their own. So you should be aware of the school’s policies about carrying medications as well, and work with the school staff in order to figure out what you can do so that you do not violate any rules and regulations, but still offer the best help to your kid to manage his/her asthma at school.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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