Back to school post for kids with asthma!

Back to school checklist for kids with asthma

Returning to school after any holiday can be difficult without the added concern about your child’s asthma striking them in the classroom or playground. Every year, there’s a spike in asthma attacks in children across the UK when they go back to school. As a parent, you might be worried about how they’ll adapt to being back at school after the festive break.

When children return to classrooms, factors such as stress, a change of environment or allergens and less strict asthma management over the holidays can trigger asthma. Lots of children come down with colds when they go back to school – this is one of the biggest triggers for people with asthma. If your child has a dust mite allergy, being inside more as the weather changes could make their asthma flare up.

How you can prepare at home:

  • Have an up-to-date written asthma action plan prepared by your doctor or asthma nurse
  • Ensure your child gets back into their asthma routine before school starts, including taking their preventer medication every day if prescribed. This will help calm the inflammation in their airways and reduce the risk of an asthma attack.
  • Ask your pharmacist to check your child’s inhaler technique.
  • Potentially you could try and ask for a check-up/review before school year gets busy again or sports lessons start to make sure things are going as well as can be
  • Ask your doctor’s surgery for an extra reliever inhaler (usually blue) and give it to your child’s school. This should preferably be in its original packaging, so the school has the prescription label that comes with it. Send in a spacer too if your child uses one. You should make sure that you and your child know where this is being stored. It should always be easily accessible and not stored in a locked cupboard

At school:

  • Ensure your child feels comfortable asking for help or telling their teacher if they are getting asthma symptoms
  • Give the school and/or childcare a copy of your child’s asthma action plan and tell teachers and staff if your child requires help using their puffer
  • Talk to school administrators about possible asthma triggers and whether staff members receive training on how to recognise and respond to asthma symptoms.
  • Taking these preventative measures before and during the first few weeks of school can go a long way to helping keep your child well and out of hospital.

Tips for teachers

  • All children should be able to get to their inhaler quickly. Ideally, primary school children should have their inhalers in the classroom, while secondary school children can carry their inhalers. Some older primary school children may carry their own inhalers, but this is at the discretion of the head teacher.
  • If a child needs to take their inhaler, an adult should be watching them take it, rather than sending them away.
  • Some children may need help to take their inhaler. If you’re not happy to do this, it’s important to recognise symptoms of an asthma attack and get someone else to help the child.
  • Some children may not be able to speak if they’re having an asthma attack. Being unable to complete a full sentence is one sure sign that someone is having an asthma attack and needs emergency help.
  • It can be useful for these children to have an asthma buddy, who can tell the teacher on their behalf if they can’t say so themselves.

    Emergency inhalers:

  • The school’s own emergency inhalers should only be used when their usual inhaler isn’t accessible. It isn’t meant to be taken outside or on trips, to save the effort of taking the child’s named inhaler.
  • Emergency spacers should be thrown away after one use, not washed and reused. This is because the spacers are single use.
  • Under normal circumstances, the metered dose inhaler can be cleaned – see the Inhalers in School Guidance for more details. However, due to COVID-19, it may be safer to throw away both the spacer and the inhaler after they are used, rather than washing it. You can get advice on this from your School Nurse and Local Infection Control Team.
  • You may be concerned about cost and waste, but the school’s emergency inhaler should rarely need to be used if all children have access to their own inhaler and spacer.

For any further support or guidance please e mail
Aberdeen 01224973001
Glasgow 01415010539

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