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Going Back to School With Asthma Takes Extra Work

Lung association recommends flu shots, check-ups and communication with school staff

SATURDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- There are a number of ways that parents of children with asthma can prepare for flu season and the new school year, says the American Lung Association.

"Good hygiene is the best and first line of defense against any type of cold or flu. This includes frequent handwashing and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing," Dr. Norman H. Edelman, the association's chief medical officer, said in an association news release.

The lung association also strongly recommends that all children, especially those with asthma, get a flu shot. But only one-third of children with asthma get a seasonal flu vaccination, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Vaccination against seasonal influenza needs to be a higher priority in this country. 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," Edelman said.

The potential severity of the H1N1 swine flu this fall is uncertain, and parents of children with asthma should watch for advice from public health officials and organizations like the CDC, the news release noted.

"If a child has a fever or other flu-like symptoms, they should stay home. Children should not return to school for at least 24 hours after their fever or signs of fever are no longer present," Edelman said.

In preparation for the new school year, parents of children with asthma should complete the following check list:

  • Contact your child's doctor to schedule an asthma check-up appointment.
  • Get shots. Parents and children should be vaccinated against seasonal flu.
  • Make sure your child has a written asthma action plan that details the symptoms, medications, physical limitations, and instructions on what to do if prescribed medications don't improve an asthma attack.
  • Know the asthma emergency plan at your child's school and find out about the school's history of dealing with asthma episodes. Find out if the school allows students to carry and independently use their asthma medication.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about childhood asthma.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Lung Association, news release, Aug. 12, 2009

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