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Back to School with Asthma: Why You Need an Action Plan

Teacher and students

Back-to-school time has arrived. If your child has asthma, they need more than just a new backpack and school supplies. Careful preparation for the transition back to school, detailed in an asthma action plan, will help everyone breathe easier.

A Look at the Numbers

The American Lung Association estimates that 6.1 million children in the United States have asthma. While it is one of the most common childhood maladies, asthma can be associated with severe symptoms and is a major cause of missed school days. One-third of all hospitalizations for children under age 15 years are due to asthma.

Know Asthma Symptoms and Triggers

Given the potential consequences, it’s important that you, your child’s teacher, and other school personnel are able to recognize asthma symptoms and asthma triggers. Common triggers that increase asthma symptoms include upper respiratory infections and other illnesses, exposure to allergens and cigarette smoke, and exercise.

Create an Asthma Action Plan

Children with asthma should see their health-care provider at least yearly to monitor how well their asthma is controlled and to create an asthma action plan for families and schools to follow. This allows your child to fully participate in school and related activities.

The asthma action plan is specific to an individual child and should indicate:

  • Maintenance or preventive medications your child takes.
  • A plan to follow when your child is ill, having asthma symptoms, or has been exposed to a likely trigger.

The visit with your child’s health-care provider is also a time to refill medications so they are readily available both at home and at school. Some older children may be permitted to carry and self-administer their medications. Make sure both you and your child understand how to use the different types of inhalers and spacers.

Finally, communicate with your child’s school nurse, teachers, coaches, after school program staff as needed to ensure consistency.

A Reminder About the Flu Shot

The return to school also coincides with the annual influenza vaccination campaign. The flu shot is the single best way to prevent influenza and is highly recommended for anyone with asthma as having asthma increases the risk for complications of the flu. In addition, it is recommended that children age 12 and older receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

author name

Jennifer S. Ammons, MD

Jennifer S. Ammons, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician with Roseville Pediatrics. Dr. Ammons is a graduate of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and completed her residency at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Her special areas of interest include child safety, infectious diseases, and immunizations.

Call: 717-569-6481

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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