For the 7 million children living with asthma in the United States, preparing for the new school year involves so much more than choosing a new backpack or pencil case. Asthma is the number 3 leading cause for hospitalization among children aged 15 years and younger, and is also one of the crucial reasons why students miss school because of illness, with over 10 million days of school missed every year. With improved asthma management, however, children might be able to lead healthier and safer lives and pursue their dream careers without missing school.
In order to be as prepared as possible for a successful school year, the American Lung Association is recommending that students with asthma and their parents follow this back-to-school checklist of asthma-related programs when preparing for the new school year:
- Enroll in an asthma refresher: Even the most dedicated and educated parents and children with Asthma sometimes need a refresher on how best to manage the disease. Students with Asthma can take advantage of free educational programs that the American Lung Association currently has available:
- Asthma Basics is an interactive online learning module that takes one hour to complete and is designed for adults who have direct contact with students with asthma, including parents, school nurses, and healthcare professionals. The learning tool includes an explanation of asthma triggers and the basics on how to identify and reduce those triggers, flare-up action plans, how to handle a breathing emergency, tutorials on asthma medication plus an asthma management plan template.
- Open Airways for Schools aims to educate and empower children aged between 8 and 11 years old on to detect the signs of asthma, avoid triggers and make smart decisions concerning their health. There are a six 40-minute group lessons included in the program.
- Lungtropolis consists of a web game for children aged between 5 and 10 years old to teach them best practices that can help them manage their own disease.
- It is also important for parents to develop an Asthma Action Plan in cooperation with their healthcare provider, and children should visit their doctor each year so that medication and dosage can be revised. A written worksheet that includes symptoms, appropriate medications and doses is also helpful so that babysitters, family members, school nurses and teachers can easily access information.
- Evaluate if your child is ready to self-manage medication for Asthma.
- Communicate with the school nurse and teachers to combine efforts for a better healthcare plan for dealing with Asthma.
With the new school year fast approaching, it is essential for parents and children with Asthma to get serious about managing the disease while at school so that students can get the most out of their education and avoid missing school.