Here we go again! Summer holidays are coming to an end and many of us are gearing up for school once again. While you work your way through your list of school supplies and uniforms, we recommend you also include these simple steps to ensure your child is asthma-ready for the new school year.
Tip #1: Book an appointment with their doctor to review their asthma control and update their Asthma Action Plan
When was the last time you visited your doctor and had your child’s Asthma Action Plan updated?
Everyone with asthma should have a written Asthma Action Plan, which should be reviewed annually or when symptoms or treatments change. This is an important document that outlines how to keep asthma symptoms under control when you are well, and what to do during a flare-up. It also lets other people know how to help your child manage their asthma.
So, if it has been a while since it was reviewed or if their symptoms and/or triggers have changed, now is a good time to book an appointment to see your doctor and arrange a new one. Give one to their teacher and any other caregivers.
Have questions about their Asthma Action Plan or keen to make sure you don’t miss anything when visiting the doctor? Give our Respiratory Health Team a call on (08) 9289 3600 and book a FREE asthma education consultation.
Tip #2: Know their triggers
A trigger is something that sets off asthma symptoms. For most people living with asthma, triggers are only a problem when their asthma is not well-controlled, usually by medication.
Triggers are different for each person. Some common triggers include:
- Colds or flu
- Smoke, including fires and cigarettes
- Dust and/or dust mites
- Changes in weather
- Emotions, including stress
- Foods and/or additives
- Deodorants and perfumes
As you identify what causes your child’s asthma to flare up, take time to educate your child on what their triggers are and how to identify them.
Where possible, talk with your child’s teacher as well so they understand your child’s symptoms and triggers and can work with them to identify ways to reduce exposure inside the classroom and around the school.
Our Classroom Checklist can help teachers prepare their classrooms and look for potential triggers that may impact their students with asthma. Feel free to provide a copy of this to your child’s teacher.
Tip #3: Check their medications are in date
Is your child using their medication as prescribed?
Does your child have enough medication for home and school?
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 and stored in a static-free bag. Young children may also require a mask to use with their spacer.
Check out some of our spacers, masks and Asthma Action Kits available at our Asthma WA Shop.
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 can 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 Asthma WA’s Respiratory Health Nurses or Educators who can guide you both.
If it’s been 12 months or more since your child’s inhaler technique has been checked, call our friendly Respiratory Health Team on (08) 9289 3600 to arrange a FREE education session.
Tip #5: Routine is key
It is not uncommon for routines to slip when you are on holiday, but when it comes to managing a respiratory condition like asthma, it’s important that people follow their Asthma Action Plans and take their medication as prescribed.
Work with your child to establish a routine that ensures they are managing their asthma correctly, taking their preventer medication as prescribed and always have their reliever medication easily accessible.
Tip #6: 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 support staff 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.
If your child also needs assistance using their inhaler, be sure to let the school staff know so they can help.
Asthma WA offers asthma education for schools. It is a great way to upskill school staff to know how to support students with asthma and how to respond an asthma emergency.
Find out more about our Schools Education here.
Tip #7: 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 provide them with a copy of your child’s Asthma Action Plan, agree where your child’s medication will be located and that it will be easily accessible, and discuss the signs of a flare-up. As with their classroom teachers, it is important that your child also feels confident to tell a coach if they aren’t feeling well.
Activ8 for Asthma is our free online program that has been designed for people working with children in the sporting environment. It is suitable for sports coaches, parents, teachers and volunteers. Read more here.
Tip #8: 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.
Check out our “Help Stop the Spread of Germs” flyer
Tip #9: Get vaccinated
Speak to your doctor about the recommended vaccinations for your child, yourself and your family and when to have them. This will help everyone avoid becoming sick throughout the year.
Read more about:
How Asthma WA can help
Our experienced team of Respiratory Health Nurses and Educators can help you and your child’s school better understand asthma and support your child. Call our team on (08) 9289 3600 to book a FREE education session, learn asthma first aid, check your child’s device technique, ask questions about their medication or Asthma Action Plan. Our team is 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 to book a session for their staff’s next professional development day.
Other useful resources