Excepted from Fresh AAir™ a publication of the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America
Returning to the classroom with asthma and allergies requires planning. The beginning of the school year is stressful for most healthy children and their parents. But if your child has asthma or allergies, the anticipation of the coming school year becomes just a bit more nerve-racking. It does not have to be that way. With some preparation and organization, you and your kids can have a problem-free year.
Triggers inside and outside the classroom are everywhere. Rugs or carpeting can collect dirt, dust mites, and chalk dust. Furry animals in kindergarten class are cute but problematic. Rigorous sports may exert your student. Then there are bees on the playground, freshly mowed grass, trees and weeds outside a classroom, and chemical odors used for cleaning the building and treating the lawn. For children with food allergies, the cafeteria presents a problem, so do the bag lunches friends bring to school and the treats sent by other parents. Mold can grow in gym lockers and shower stalls, as well as in the classrooms themselves. Any of these allergens and irritants can send a child with allergies or asthma into a full-blown reaction.
You cannot be in control of everything children will be exposed to at school, but there are several basic steps you can take before the bell rings to ensure their health:
- Be sure your child’s medical information is complete, up-to-date, and in a form that is easily understandable by the school staff.
- Hand in a Student Asthma Action Card which lists daily medications, symptoms, and emergency plans. Emphasize the fact that staff members should not wait to contact a parent before taking emergency steps. Make sure the physical education teacher or coach has a copy.
- Attach your child’s picture to the Asthma Action Card.
- Ask your doctor for a letter you can present to the school indicating which allergies and irritants can cause problems for your child
- Your child’s name and the dosage should be attached to every medication.
- Set up appointments to meet with the school nurse, your child’s teacher, including the physical education teacher, and even the principal at a time when the schools staff are not too busy.
- If your child has food allergies, you will want to speak to the cafeteria staff about food choices or special accommodations. You should be clear and concise about the seriousness of the allergy, what your child is allergic to, and what can be done to ensure safety. It may help the staff if a picture of your child is posted in the kitchen.
- Speak to your own children about their responsibility to take medications or not take food from other kids. Even at an early age, it is critical that your children begin to identify symptoms and learn to ask for help.
This information is provided for reference only and should not substitute for professional medical care.