Column: Going Back To School With Asthma

September 2, 2023 | 0 Comments

[Column written by Lindsay Bishop RN]

Going back to school in September is an exciting and busy time for both students and parents, however if you are the parent of a child with Asthma it is important to be prepared.

All over the world the start of the school year is known to bring a sharp rise in the number of asthma attacks and Emergency Room visits in the 2nd and 3rd weeks after the return to school.

Students have been in camps enjoying the fresh air, swimming etc. classrooms have been closed during the summer and many students will have travelled overseas bringing a variety of different virus and cold infections back to Bermuda. The first few weeks can be challenging for a student with asthma!

Be Prepared!

Preparation for back to school should start at least two weeks before school resumes.

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Over the summer your child may have been well and not using their preventer inhaler but now is the time to ensure they are using their preventer inhalers daily as prescribed; prevention can take at least two weeks and even longer before the full protection is felt.

Each child should always have a reliever inhaler such as Ventolin and a spacer available, either in the school bag or held by the teacher for younger children.

Great news…Global Asthma Guidelines, GINA 2023, recommend students over the age of 12 years should talk to their doctor about SMART Asthma Therapy, using one inhaler [such as Symbicort] instead of two to control asthma! No person over 12 years should be prescribed Ventolin as their only inhaler. When this is the case, deaths, hospital admissions, emergency visits and flare ups are higher. Smart Therapy, where one inhaler is used for both prevention and relief of symptoms is best practice. It contains both the anti- inflammatory and a longer acting anti bronchospasm medication.

The Global Initiative for Asthma [GINA] organization want to remove “MILD” asthma from medical vocabulary. 25% of deaths and hospital admissions are in a patient who has not had a flare up in the last 3 months. Saying asthma is mild, encourages patients and parents to relax and perhaps omit preventative inhalers, perhaps forget to take pumps to school and perhaps forget to renew their prescription.

Your child should have a written “Asthma Action Plan”, now is the time to review that plan with your pediatrician, a copy of the Asthma Action Plan should be given to your child’s school.

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The 2023 / 2024 Bermuda Student Asthma Registry has just been released. Make sure to add your child to this registry so that asthma specialists as well as your child’s teacher will know the nature and severity of your child’s asthma.

The seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for all children with asthma; Ensure your child’s immunisations are up to date, in particular COVID, flu and pertussis.

Encourage your child to eat a healthy diet and get plenty of fresh air and exercise and wash their hands frequently.

Let’s be prepared for the new school year and make sure we do not see large numbers of children visiting the Emergency room and missing time from school. We want all of our students to have a happy healthy school year and be able to participate in all school activities including sports.

Open Airways offers FREE one-on-one individualized consultations for anyone with asthma – no referral is required. For any questions you may have, or to book an appointment, please contact: Open Airways – Lindsay Bishop or call 536-6060

- Lindsay Bishop RN, Director of Asthma Education – Open Airways

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