If you have children heading back to school, you probably have a lot on your mind. What do they need? Do their uniforms fit? What have you forgotten?

If your child has asthma, there are a few more things to remember so your youngster can transition back into school life smoothly. Today we share with you our eight top tips for returning to school.

Tip #1: Visit your doctor and update their Asthma Action Plan

When was the last time you visited your doctor and updated your child’s Asthma Action Plan?

Everyone with asthma should have a written Asthma Action Plan, which should be reviewed annually or when symptoms or treatments change. It is an important tool that outlines the steps you need to take daily, as well as when you are unwell. It also lets other people know what to do if your child has an asthma flare-up.

So if it has been a while, or if their symptoms and/or triggers have changed, now is a good time to book an appointment to see your doctor for a review and to update the Asthma Action Plan.

Tip #2: Know their triggers

A trigger is something that sets off asthma symptoms, and they can be different for each person. For most people living with asthma, triggers are only a problem when their asthma is not well-controlled, usually by medication.

Some common triggers can include (note, this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Exercise/activity
  • Colds and/or flu
  • Medications
  • Smoke, including fires and cigarettes
  • Pollens
  • Dust and/or dust mites
  • Mould
  • Changes in weather
  • Animals
  • Emotions, including stress
  • Chemicals
  • Pollution
  • Foods and/or additives
  • Deodorant s and perfumes

Where possible, work with your child’s teacher to look for ways to reduce exposure to known triggers inside the classroom and around the school. Ensure they are taking their preventer medication as prescribed and that they have their reliever medication accessible at all times.

Tip #3: Check their medications are in date

Is your child using the correct medication as prescribed?

Does it have enough medication in it? Is the medication still in date (not expired)?

If you answered “no” to any of the above, it is time to purchase new medication along with a spacer (if appropriate) for your child to have at school. Make sure they are all clearly labelled with your child’s name, including the spacer, and stored in a static-free bag.  Young children may also require a mask to use with their spacer.

Tip #4: Check their device technique

The way you use medications and devices is important in ensuring your child is getting the most out of their medication. It can make an enormous difference to the effectiveness of their medication and your child’s general wellbeing.

Check that your child knows how to use their medication device properly and if they are able to administer it by themselves or need assistance.

You can ask your doctor about this when reviewing your child’s Asthma Action Plan, or speak to one of the Asthma WA Respiratory Health Team who can guide you both.

Tip #5: Talk to your child’s teacher and school

Make a point of speaking directly with your child’s teacher and school about your child’s condition and asthma management.

It is important that teachers and aids understand the signs of a flare-up and know what to do in an asthma emergency. This is also a good opportunity to learn more about the school’s medication policy to make sure you and your child understand how the school will store and provide access to their medication.

Provide a copy of your child’s Asthma Action Plan to both their teacher and school, discuss their triggers and make sure your child feels confident to tell a teacher if they are feeling unwell or experiencing a flare-up. It is important that they feel comfortable to speak up and not be shy.

Tip #6: Talk to your child’s sports teacher and coaches

Don’t forget to also talk to your child’s sports teacher about their asthma management. If they also participate in other extracurricular activities, make sure you speak to the teachers and coaches involved too.

Remember to share with them your child’s Asthma Action Plan, agree on where your child’s medication will be located, that it will be easily accessible, and the signs of a flare-up. Just like their classroom teachers, it is important that your child also feels confident to tell a coach if they aren’t feeling well.

Tip #7: Reduce exposure to germs

Respiratory illnesses such as colds and flu can be more serious for people with asthma.

Simple steps such as washing hands with soap, using hand sanitiser and teaching children ‘cough etiquette’ including coughing into their elbow can help reduce exposure to germs in the classroom.

This applies to everyone – not just people with asthma.

Tip #8: Get vaccinated

Speak to your doctor about getting the flu shot every year for your child, yourself and your family. This will help everyone avoid becoming sick in winter.

Read more about flu vaccinations here.

How Asthma WA can help

Our experienced team of Respiratory Health Nurses and Educators can help you and your school to better understand asthma and support your child. Call our team on (08) 9289 3600 to book an education session, learn asthma first aid, check your child’s device technique, ask questions about their medication or Asthma Action Plan. Our Asthma Helpline (1800 278 462) is also available from 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

We can also provide education and support for your child’s school.  Ask the school to contact us on the number above if they would like education for their staff.

Other useful resources

Resources for teachers and schools: https://asthmawa.org.au/resources-for-schools/

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