Sending Asthma Kids Back to School
It’s 105 degrees with the heat index here and the midday air resembles soup more than anything else, but I’m still in a fine, fine mood this morning. School starts exactly two weeks from today, and I get to stop juggling writing and editing projects with the summer entertainment of two children.
If you’re an Asthma Mom or Dad, too, remember you’ve got a few extra steps to complete before school starts:
1.Fill Prescriptions for School Inhalers
Don’t be like this Asthma Mom in previous years, who found herself holding the almost-empty spare Albuterol inhaler on orientation morning and almost didn’t get it refilled in time for the first day of school. Fill the prescriptions for meds that stay at school now, before you’re also dealing with school supply lists and bus schedules.
2. Give the School a Copy of Your Child’s Asthma Action Plan
If you’re sending an asthmatic child to a new school or to school for the first time, make sure to give the office an Asthma Action Plan. My daughter’s school district required an initial meeting with me, the school nurse, and a district-wide health employee, and the three of us reviewed the steps of her plan, her medications, and her symptoms. Your kid’s school may handle daily medications differently. Either way, keeping an Asthma Action Plan on file ensures the nurse will not have to guess about the inhaler or nebulizer treatments, wasting valuable seconds during severe flares. Schools usually distribute copies of the plan to any educator or administrator in regular contact with your child, but make sure it’s not your responsibility to get those copies out.
3. Start Maintenance Meds On Time
Maintenance steroids take a few weeks to build up in the body. A kid like mine that goes off her controller inhaler during the summer needs to restart it early enough to reach the right levels at the right time. My daughter, for example, starts her Flovent treatments in August or September to give her full protection by the time cold and flu season starts.
4. Learn Your State’s School Inhaler Laws
Most–though not all–states allow children with severe asthma or allergies to carry their own inhalers or Epi-pens rather than keep them in the school clinic. Research your state’s right-to-carry laws, and complete the required permissions and paperwork if your child needs to keep her medications with her.
5. Meet the Teacher
Schedule a separate conference or use orientation to tell the teacher about your child’s daily meds. Even though my daughter visits the clinic to use her inhaler, for example, I give her teachers an idea of her symptoms and medications. If they’re going to see my kid all day, every day, I want to make sure they know how to recognize the symptoms of a severe flare, should one ever happen in the classroom.
6. Check Expiration Dates
We have Asthmagirl (the blogger, not my kid) to thank for this tip. Inhalers do expire and the medication subsequently loses effectiveness, so check the dates before you send them off to school.
School Inhaler Laws