Managing Your Childs Asthma
A team will help you manage your childs asthma. This may include your doctor, practice nurse, asthma educator and pharmacist.
Asthma is treated with inhalers known as relievers and preventers to relax and open the airways, and reduce the swelling and narrowing inside them.
Keeping a record of your concerns and your childs symptoms will help your doctor decide whether your child has asthma.
Your doctor, nurse or asthma educator will help you learn how to:
- use peak flow meters to assess your childs breathing at home
- use inhalers and spacers
- keep an asthma medication and symptom diary
- asthma proof your home and avoid the triggers for your childs asthma.
Theyll also help you develop a treatment plan for asthma episodes and upper respiratory infections.
Q Is It Safe For My Child With Asthma To Wear A Mask For Extended Periods Of Time
Children with asthma should be able to wear a non-N95 facial covering without affecting their oxygen levels. Non- N95 facial coverings are currently the recommended public health practice by the CDC for the general public, including children. Have your children practice wearing their face mask at home for an extended period. Check out our steps to help your children get used to wearing a cloth face covering.
Anxiety And Social Withdrawal
Allergies and asthma don’t just affect physical health they can affect emotional and mental well-being as well. When a child is worried about whether they’ll have an allergy or asthma attack during school, it can cause anxiety. This anxiety could also cause some children to withdraw from social or extracurricular activities in an attempt to avoid potentially unpleasant events and feelings. They might also feel embarrassed if they need to see the school nurse in the middle of class or recess. Children may focus on these negative feelings instead of their schoolwork.
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Back To School This Year Is Far From Back To Normal For Kids With Allergies And Asthma
Students will have new protocols in place as they try to keep allergies and asthma under control.
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. Sending kids back to school at the end of summer is a ritual many parents look forward to. This year as cases of COVID-19 surge in many communities, parents are asking themselves not only what will the school year look like remote, in-person or a hybrid? but how will they keep their child and their family safe. Adding allergies and asthma to the risks being faced adds another layer of concern.
Lots of school districts across the country are still trying to determine how kids will return to school this fall, says allergist J. Allen Meadows, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology . The first priority is, of course, keeping children safe if they will be attending classes in person. As allergists, we need to examine not only how kids with allergies and asthma might be affected by the normal classroom risks, but how COVID-19 might also affect their health.
Below are six factors to consider as you prepare your child with allergies or asthma for a school year that includes being in a classroom with other children.
Back To School Action Plan For Allergies And Asthma
As the final days of summer break come to a close, families everywhere are preparing for children to return to school. Whether this is the first year a child is heading to school or the last, it is an exciting time for both children and parents. It can, however, also be a time of anxiety for a parent worried about a childs asthma or allergy conditions. Below are some ways to prepare and communicate these concerns, and ;back to school excitement.
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Allergies/asthma & School Performance
Managing allergies and asthma isn’t just about safety both can also have an impact on academic performance. Doing well in school requires working hard, concentrating on schoolwork and paying attention. These tasks can become difficult when a child is dealing with allergy/asthma symptoms or worrying about their next attack. Here’s how childhood allergies or asthma can affect academic performance:
Kids Asthma Respiratory Infections And Covid
If your child is one of the more than 6 million kids in America who suffers from asthma, you are probably seriously stressing over the back to school issue. After all, right now, the CDC lists moderate to severe asthma as a condition that may predispose someone to a more severe case of COVID-19.
Asthma can be triggered by exercise, stress, cigarette smoke, and allergiesand for many children, respiratory viruses are a main trigger for asthma attacks. I can personally attest to this. Both of my sons have asthma that is mainly triggered by respiratory infections. Even the common cold can set them off into a severe bout of asthma. My little guy was rushed to the ER with the worse asthma attack of his life last springagain, triggered by an unknown, garden variety cold virus.
I dont think there is anything more terrifying than watching your child gasp for breaththeir little chest retracting in and out, a look of sheer terror in their eyes. I wouldnt wish this experience on my worst enemy.
Like many parents of asthmatic children, I have been worried sick about COVID-19. If my child can get severe asthma attacks from the common cold, what about a deadly respiratory infection that targets the lungs?
My kids havent played with another child since March. They basically stay home, take walks, go for car rides, and have had a few very controlled socially distanced/masked visits in their grandparents backyards. Thats it.
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Making The Best Decisions For Your Family
Personally, after a bunch of soul-searching I decided to go with my gut and choose a remote option for my kids this coming school year.
Why? Well, because there are just so many unknowns about how this awful virus affects asthmatic kids. After all, this is a brand new virus, and we are only about half a year into understanding it. Maybe asthmatic kids will generally be okay if they contract the virus. Maybe they wont. We dont know enough yet.
After experiencing traumatic moments with my kids during their asthma attacks, that risk is something I just cant take. Plus, even though community spread is somewhat low in the area where I live, I dont feel 100% certain that my kids will be properly protected from the virus in a school building, even with the best laid plans and supportive teachers. All it takes is one infected person to spread the virus to potentially hundreds of children, who will take it home to their families.
I fully understand my choice not an option for all parents, nor is it something all parents would prefer.
I would urge all parents in this position to contact their pediatrician for help in making this difficult choice given the options that are available. They know your childs particular asthma situation, and can help you make an informed choice.
What To Do If Your Childs Symptoms Are Getting Worse
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Allergy Medicines And Treatments For Childrens Allergies
The best allergy treatment for your child depends on what kind of allergy symptoms your child has, and how severe they are. Options include a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications. These include antihistamines, , and steroids. If your child has asthma, he or she may be treated with inhalers. These medicines provide relief by calming inflammation and opening air passages. All medications have possible side effects, so itâs important to work with your childâs doctor to find the right allergy medicines.
If the usual medications donât provide enough relief for your childâs allergies, allergy shots — immunotherapy — may be considered. Allergy shots work by exposing someone to increasing amounts of an allergen, such as pollen or mold, over time. This makes the immune system less likely to react to the substance.
How Can I Avoid Asthma Triggers At School
Triggers are those things that can make asthma worse. If you don’t know what your triggers are, ask your mom, dad, or doctor. Then do your best to avoid those things.
For example, if chalk dust is a problem, your teachers might be able to use dry erase boards instead of a chalkboard. If mold and pollen counts are high, your teacher may close the windows.
Talk with your teacher about making changes so you don’t have breathing problems in class. If you feel funny asking for these special requests, ask your mom or dad to speak to the teacher, school nurse, or principal. Most teachers are glad to help. After all, if you can’t breathe, you can’t learn!
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How To Find The Right School
Choosing the right school for your child is a difficult task, even if they don’t have asthma or an allergy. Selection will come down to the school’s ability to keep them safe. The following tips can help parents determine if a school is right for their child:
Parents should keep an open line of communication with their child’s teacher and allow for questions and feedback regarding their strategy to avoid reactions and treat symptoms when they occur.
Closing Schools Could Impact The Medical Workforce
Closing schools across the board could also impact the ability of the health workforce to provide medical care, when it’s most needed.
“If you have a school where a significant number of health workers and they have to take time off work to look after their kids, then the intensive care units could end up under a lot more stress,” Professor Booy said.
Health authorities across the world are grappling with how to manage school closures and still allow the health workforce to function.
Mr Tehan said that is a key reason schools are remaining open for now.
“It’s also so we don’t have any impacts on workforce, in particular, on our medical workforce, at this stage,” he said.
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How To Keep Your Kid Safe At School
When it comes to safety at school, Dr. David Stukus of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio says communication is key. “Talk to teachers and administers before the start of the school year to allow time for school personnel to make any necessary preparations,” he says.
Here are a few more important tips:
Signs Your Childs Asthma Symptoms Are Getting Worse
Younger children might say their tummy hurts as well – get to know your childs individual asthma signs.
One or more of these signs mean that your child is at risk of an asthma attack and you need to take urgent action.
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School And Childcare Providers
Asthma is a leading chronic illness among children and youth in the United States and a leading cause of school absenteeism. Teachers, coaches, day care providers, and educators can help children manage their asthma.
This page provides Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , government, and nongovernment resources for school personnel planning or maintaining an asthma management program.
This American Sign Language film, produced by the CDC and the Deaf Wellness Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center, discusses how to manage asthma to help prevent attacks or decrease the overall health effects of this disease. Listen to/Watch this Video
CDCs National Asthma Control Program created this set of videos to help children with asthma and their families, caregivers, and educators learn how to use an asthma inhaler. The kids in these videos have asthma. Watch them demonstrate the techniques they use to take their medicine. This helps them control their asthma.
CDCs Healthy Youth! Asthma Web Site
Responsibilities Of Schools In Caring For Children With Asthma
Schools with students at risk of asthma must have:;
- a school management plan for asthma;
- an asthma care plan and student health support plan for each child at risk of asthma;
- regular training for staff in first aid and management of asthma;
- at least;2;school asthma first aid kits.;
Schools must have strategies and asthma care plans to cover school camps and excursions, and have a strategy in place to support students with;exercise-induced asthma.;Schools should regularly communicate with parents about the students development and any health and education issues. Schools should also tell parents about the frequency and severity of the students asthma symptoms while at school, and the use of medication at school.;
- In an emergency, always call triple zero ;
- Emergency department of your nearest hospital;
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Why Is It Particularly Important To Monitor Your Childs Asthma Care When Theyre Moving Up To Secondary School
Year 7 can be a risky time for children with asthma, because of the amount of change a child experiences in the transition from primary to secondary school. Moving up to secondary school means a new environment, with the potential for new triggers.
These triggers can include:
- a new journey to school, using different transport
- stress relating to change, including new friends, teachers and subjects
- moving around different classrooms and a larger school all day
- starting new subjects, like science and design and technology.
When a child moves up to secondary school, your child will need to take greater responsibility for their asthma in the school day. This means its important to talk to your child, and work with them to make sure:
- that they can take their own inhaler, so they can be as independent as possible
- that if they havent had an asthma review during the summer holidays, they have one as soon as possible to make sure any symptoms are picked up.
Children may also feel self-conscious about having asthma or embarrassed about getting their inhaler out in front of their classmates. They may also find that they have trouble fitting their inhaler and spacer into their bag. They could talk to a nurse about a smaller, more portable, spacer or even a different inhaler type, which might not need a spacer.
This Is Ultimately A Family Decision
All of this means that, unfortunately, I cant just give a yes or no answer to the question of whether to send a child with or without asthma back to school or day care. This is an individual family decision for each individual child.
We each need to assess the risks and benefits for our family and each of our children individually while keeping in mind that safe is also relative and risks cannot be completely eliminated, no matter how careful everyone is.
You know your child best. How have they been doing with this isolation? How will another year or half-year at home affect them and their development? You also know your childs school best. What is their plan for safe return and for distance education? How will your child do in the school or home environment? For help thinking through these risks and benefits, read A Checklist to Help Parents Decide: Send Kids Back to School or Keep Them Home During COVID-19?
Like my family, you may come to different decisions based on each individual child.
Good luck navigating this challenging environment, and please reach out to the experts at Connecticut Childrens any time for more advice!
What other topics would you like us to address in our Ask a Pediatrician series? Let us know at .
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Q How Do I Communicate The Health Needs Of My Child With Asthma With School Personnel
Prior to the start of the school year, reach out to the designated school health staff to let them know that your child has asthma and may require quick-relief medicine during the school day to relieve symptoms. Schools may require an asthma action plan, health forms, a quick-relief inhaler and spacer or valved holding chamber. Quick-relief medicine using a nebulizer may not be possible this school year due to potential increased risk of the transmission of COVID-19 by droplets that are expelled in the air and should be discussed with school health staff.
At The End Of The School Year:
- When parent picks up medication stored at school:
- Return unused medication
- Provide medication forms and plans to be completed for the next school year
- Remind the parent to make an appointment with the doctor to be sure to get a health update and forms completed
- Discuss progress made in self-management and encourage continuation at home
School Staff should know the following about asthma and allergies:
Signs and symptoms
Common risk factors, triggers and/or allergens
How to prevent asthma flares / allergy exposures
Never send a child to the School Health Office alone
What are the signs and symptoms of an emergency
How to respond to an asthma or allergy emergency
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