Managing Asthma in School
Information about Asthma
In Delaware, it is estimated that 19.8% of children been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their lives. The most recent data shows that 17% of youth in high school take medication for asthma. Asthma affects children who are black or Latino more frequently than children who are white (Asthma Burden Update, 2016). Asthma has been shown to be a leading cause of student absences from school accounting for about 14 million absences each school year, or one-third of all school days missed” (Healthy Schools Campaign, 2015).
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects airways; the walls of the airways become inflamed and sensitive intermittently to allergies or other triggers the lungs find irritating. When the airways react, they get narrow producing decreased air flow and bronchospasm or asthma attack. The asthma attack causes symptoms including wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), coughing, chest tightness, trouble breathing, fatigue, stomach cramps, headache, and decrease in exercise tolerance. Symptoms of asthma occur most frequently at night or in the early morning. The most common triggers of asthma attacks include upper respiratory infections, exercise, allergies, weather changes, strong odors, and stress. In some cases, uncontrolled asthma can lead to severe respiratory distress and death. Asthma cannot be cured, but most people with asthma can control it by taking oral and inhaled medications and avoiding situations that stimulate asthma.
Effective management of asthma can improve a student’s absentee rate, educational productivity, and well being. It is critical that the school nurse has an Asthma Action Plan and a quick relief inhaler if prescribed so that prompt action can be taken and your child can remain in school. In the event of an asthma crisis, emergency care may require administration of medication as prescribed, calling 911, and parent or guardian.
Outdoor air quality
Outdoor air pollution may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma. The Air Quality Index in Delaware is monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency and can be found on the link provided. Outdoor air quality is determined by the amount of small particles, ozone and other gases in the air. Dust, ash, and soot also contribute to small particles in the air. Ozone, a harmful pollutant, comes from emissions of cars, busses, power plants, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources. When inhaled, outdoor pollutants can aggravate the airways and can lead to chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and throat irritation. In 2015 Delaware, hospitalization for those with asthma increased during the months of May, September, October, November and January.
Instructions for School:
- Students with asthma should have a quick relief inhaler available at all times.
- Please bring the quick relief inhaler to be kept in the nurse's office along with the Asthma Action Plan (see link below)
- Will your child carry a quick relief inhaler? If yes the correct forms below must be completed. An emergency quick relief inhaler should also be kept in the nurse's office.
Forms for School:
Please have your child's health care provider complete the Asthma Action Plan and return the form to the school nurse along with the signed parent/guardian medication permission form.
Date modified: March 10, 2018