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Back-to-School Checklist for Students with Asthma

News from American Lung Association in Tennessee

For more information contact: Patricia Volz, 419-744-0400, pjvolz@midlandlung.org

American Lung Association in Tennessee Stresses Back-to-School Checklist for Students with Asthma

NASHVILLE, TN (08/24/2012)(readMedia)– As summer comes to a close, families across the nation are preparing for the new school year. The school environment can sometimes be difficult for children with asthma. This back-to-school season, the American Lung Association highlights tips for families of children with asthma and stresses the importance of crafting a plan to properly manage asthma in a school environment.

“Before shopping for back-to-school supplies, parents of students with asthma should first consider their child’s health for the time that they spend under the supervision of school personnel and in the school environment,” said Norman H. Edelman, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. “They should work closely with their healthcare provider and school personnel before the school year begins to put a plan in place for good asthma control in the classroom.”

Affecting an estimated seven million children under the age of 18-135,566 in Tennessee alone -asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood disorders in the nation. It is also one of the primary illness-related reasons that students miss school, accounting for more than 14 million lost school days each year.

Asthma is the third-leading cause of hospitalization for children under 15. In 2009, nearly one-third of people with asthma experienced at least one episode, or attack-with children 36 percent more likely than adults to have an asthma episode.

In addition to the steps below, encourage your child’s school, daycare and other community facility to offer their staff Asthma 1-2-3, a one hour in-service program designed to teach basic asthma knowledge to personnel in order to improve the lives of children who are living with asthma. Facilitator training for the program is being offered via webinar on September 14. Visit www.alatn.org for more information.

In preparation for the school year ahead, the American Lung Association urges parents who have children with asthma to complete the following checklist:

Step 1 – Learn about asthma

Learning about asthma is easy. The American Lung Association has many free resources to help you and your child learn how to keep asthma in good control. Well controlled asthma is the key to helping your child stay healthy and active.

Visit www.lung.org/asthma to learn about asthma and asthma management. Be sure to watch the short animation What is Asthma? to learn what happens in the airways during an asthma episode.

• Asthma Basics (www.lung.org/asthma) is a 50-minute online educational tool for people with asthma or anyone who provides care for someone living with asthma. It teaches how to recognize and manage asthma symptoms, how to identify and reduce triggers, how to create an asthma management plan and how to respond to a breathing emergency.

• Visit Lungtropolis (http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/asthma/taking-control-of-asthma/for-parents-of-children-with-asthma/lungtropolis.html) along with your 5-10 year old child. You’ll find action-packed games designed to help kids control their asthma – plus advice for parents like you.

Step 2 – Talk to the school nurse

A visit or phone call to the school nurse should be your next step. Together, you and the school nurse, along with your child’s healthcare provider, can work to reduce asthma triggers and manage symptoms while in school.

• Ask the school nurse to explain and provide all of the required forms you and your child’s healthcare provider need to sign and complete, including an asthma action plan.

• All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow children to self-carry and use their asthma inhalers while at school. Each law is different; visit www.breatheatschool.org and click on your state to learn more.

• Discuss your child’s asthma triggers and steps to reduce them in the classroom.

• Ask about the school’s asthma emergency plan, and if coaches, teachers and staff are trained in how to recognize asthma symptoms and respond to a breathing emergency.

Step 3 – Schedule Asthma Check-up

Each school year should begin with a visit to your child’s healthcare provider for an asthma check-up. This check-up is the best time to make sure your child is on the right amount of medicine for their asthma, to fill-out any forms required by the school and to create an asthma management plan as described in Step 4. Kids with asthma should visit their healthcare provider every three to six months, depending on how often your child is having symptoms.

The Lung Association website provides helpful hints on how to talk to your healthcare provider and make your medical visits more satisfying.

Step 4 – Develop an Asthma Action Plan

An asthma action plan is a written worksheet created by your healthcare provider and tailored to your child’s needs. The plan includes a list of their asthma triggers and symptoms, the names of their medicines and how much medicine to take when needed. The plan also explains the steps to take to manage an asthma episode and a breathing emergency. An asthma action plan should always be on file in the school nurse’s office and easily accessible to anyone who may need to help your child use their inhaler.

Step 5 – Get a Flu Shot

On average, one out of five Americans suffers from influenza (flu) every year. Respiratory infections such as the flu are one of the most common asthma triggers. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone over the age of six months get a flu vaccination. The best way to protect your family from the flu is for everyone to get vaccinated. Learn more at www.facesofinfluenza.org.

The onset of a new school year also marks the beginning of the cold and flu season. Influenza poses a special health risk to children with asthma, as these children often experience more severe symptoms. The American Lung Association strongly recommends that all children-especially those with asthma-be immunized against influenza.

“Flu epidemics typically start and spread in schools,” said Dr. Edelman. “We highly recommend that children with asthma get a flu shot as soon as it is available, as the flu can trigger a serious asthma attack.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), yearly flu vaccinations will begin in September, or as soon as the vaccine becomes available

For additional information on asthma and children, including a downloadable version of this checklist with even more details, visit www.lung.org/asthma or call 1-800-LUNG-USA.

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