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10 Back to school tips for kids with asthma

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Back to school asthma tips

As you're preparing your kids to go back to school, in addition to organizing their school supplies and planning brown bag lunches, be sure to ready them for the upcoming cold and flu season. Seasonal influenza poses even more of a health risk if your children have asthma. According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, flu is linked to a higher number of fatalities in children with asthma than in those without it. To protect your children from getting influenza, the American Lung Association recommends the following 10 back to school health tips.

Asthmatic Girl with Inhaler

1. Good hygiene

You can reduce your children's risk of contracting any contagious illness by taking preventative measures."Good hygiene is the best and first line of defense against any type of cold or flu," says Norman H. Edelman, MD, American Lung Association chief medical officer. "This includes frequent hand washing and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing."

2. Don't spread an illness

To minimize the risk of spreading the flu, Dr Edelman suggests children stay at home if they have fever or flu-like symptoms and not return to school for at least 24 hours after their fever or signs of fever are no longer present.

3. Stay up to date

According to the American Lung Association, the potential severity of the H1N1 virus (swine flu) this fall remains uncertain at this time. Parents of children with asthma should be on the lookout for guidance from public health officials. Special recommendations, including possible H1N1 vaccination guidelines, may be issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for children who are at greater risk for complications from influenza. These recommendations and updates can be accessed online by visiting: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/.

4. Schedule asthma check-up doctor's appointment

Even if your child's asthma is well managed, scheduling a check up with your pediatrician is critical to ensuring your child's asthma continues to be effectively controlled. This is also an opportunity to evaluate medications and physical activity restrictions.

5. Consider flu vaccinations

The CDC recommends caregivers and household contacts of anyone in a risk group including children with asthma should be vaccinated. By protecting yourself against seasonal influenza, you also help further protect your child. "Vaccination against seasonal influenza needs to be a higher priority in this country," adds Dr Edelman. "Influenza is a serious disease with deadly consequences. Parents need to know that the best way to protect their kids against seasonal influenza is to ensure their child is vaccinated each and every year."

6. Know about prescription assistance services

No one should have to do without their asthma medications because of financial need. Three organizations are available to help:

  1. The Partnership for Prescription Assistance can be reached by calling 1-888-4PPA-NOW.
  2. Rx Outreach also provides information on their website: www.rxoutreach.com.
  3. Patient Services Incorporated details eligibility criteria at http://www.uneedpsi.org/cms400min/index.aspx.

7. Asthma action plan

All students with asthma should have a written Asthma Action Plan that details personal information about the child's asthma symptoms, medications, any physical activity limitations and provides specific instructions about what to do if an asthma attack does not improve with prescribed medication.

8. Visit the school nurse and your children's teachers

All of the student's teachers, coaches, as well as the school nurse and/or office should have a current copy of your children's Asthma Action Plan. Discuss with your childrens teachers about specific triggers and typical symptoms so that they can be prepared to effectively assist your child should an asthma attack occur during the school day.

9. Advocate for your child

It is also important to learn if your children's school allows students to carry and independently administer their own asthma medication. Some schools require students to carry a note from their doctor. Learn what steps need to be taken to have your children carry and use their inhaler if recommended by their doctor.

10. Know the school's asthma emergency plan

Ensure that your children's school knows how to contact you in case of an emergency. It is also important for parents to know the school's past history of dealing with asthma episodes. Parents should confirm that school staff, including after-school coaches and bus drivers, have been trained in responding to asthma emergencies.

For additional information on asthma and children, visit www.lungusa.org or call 1-800-LUNG-USA.

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