There are over 20,000 hospitalizations for childhood asthma each year and many of them occur during the fall months. When children go back to school they face increased exposure to viral infections, which can trigger asthma symptoms. Respiratory infections are a powerful trigger for asthma symptoms, which are common in children and easily transmitted in the school environment.
Many children will also experience sleep disturbances due to asthma symptoms at night thereby leading to fatigue, and possible negative classroom behavior. If the deteriorating asthma control goes untreated, children with asthma often are absent from school which results in reduced academic standing.
What can you do?
Asthma Canada recommends the following steps to help your child achieve symptom-free asthma:
Step 1: Talk to your doctor, pharmacist and asthma educator about how to monitor your child’s asthma control.
Step 2: Ask your doctor about:
- Breathing tests
- Allergy tests
- Proper inhaler technique
- Differences between reliever and controller medications
- Developing an Asthma Action Plan
- Referral to a Certified Respiratory Educator
Step 3: Meet with staff from your child’s school to:
- Provide a copy of the Asthma Action Plan or Student Asthma Data Form.
- Provide your child’s inhaler and spacer device.
- Provide a copy of the Best Practices for Asthma Management in Schools.
- Learn more about school policy on medications and emergency situations.
- Ask the school to host an Asthma Awareness Information Night. Volunteer to organize it.
To find an asthma educator in your area, use our online Asthma Education Centre Locator tool.
Child Asthma Action Plan
The Student Asthma Action Plan is an excellent resource for managing your child’s asthma. It includes information about your child’s medication plans, signs of trouble and emergency steps to take.
Student Asthma Data Form
This is a form concerning your child’s medication needs and specific asthma warning signs. Along with the Asthma Action Plan, this form should be filled out by you and by your child’s primary care physician.
A copy of this card should then be given to the school staff members such as the teacher, principal and physical education instructor.
Peak Flow Instructions
Peak flow monitoring is an alternative way to assist you in monitoring your child’s asthma condition.
Many children with asthma underestimate their asthma. Peak flow monitoring can be an important step for understanding their real condition and preventing or limiting asthma episodes. Along with advice from your child’s doctor and school nurse, these instructions will teach you and your child how to monitor peak flow.
Talk to your primary care physician about obtaining a peak flow meter for use at home. Talk to your child’s school nurse (if applicable) about the possibility of peak flow monitoring for your child at school.
For more general asthma resources and support, visit our Publications page.