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Preparation Key When Kids With Asthma Go Back to School

MONDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- As many kids with asthma get ready to head back to school this fall, the American Lung Association urged parents to prepare a detailed action plan to manage their child's condition and help ease their transition back to the classroom.

"While new clothes and backpacks are often thought of as back-to-school necessities, it is even more essential for parents of students with asthma to work with their healthcare providers and the school to develop a comprehensive action plan detailing the various elements of good asthma control in the school environment," Dr. Norman H. Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association (ALA), said in an ALA news release.

The ALA encouraged parents who have children with asthma to complete the following checklist to keep their kids healthy during the school year.

  • Create an action plan. Draw up a detailed list of personal information about the child's asthma symptoms, medications and specific instructions on how to deal with an asthma attack.
  • Get a check-up. Even if a child's asthma is well managed, asthma action plans, including medications and instructions regarding physical activity, should be re-evaluated and updated by a doctor each year.
  • Schedule a school visit. Meet with the school nurse and teachers to make sure they are updated on the child's asthma action plan, including specific asthma triggers and typical symptoms so they can help in the event of an attack.
  • Know the school's emergency plan. Aside from providing the school with emergency contact information, it's important for parents to know how the school staff handles crises and whether or not they have any specialized training for asthma-related emergencies.
  • Be an advocate. In all 50 states, students are legally able to keep their asthma medications with them at school. Schools have individual policies on how children can do this as well as paperwork parent must fill out.
  • Seek out assistance. There are prescription assistance services that can help parents or guardians pay for their child's asthma medications.

The ALA also strongly recommended that all children, particularly those with asthma, get a seasonal flu shot every year.

"As part of your back-to-school preparation, make sure your child with asthma gets a flu shot," said Edelman. "Flu epidemics start and spread in schools, and the flu can lead to a serious asthma attack." He noted that getting a flu shot does not trigger an asthma attack.

Asthma affects 7 million children and teenagers in the United States and accounts for more than 14 million missed school days each year, according to the ALA.

More information

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology provides more information on childhood asthma.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: American Lung Association, news release, July 19, 2011.

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