Asthma Management in Schools

Published: Apr 17, 2013

One child in 13 (about 5 million) suffers from Asthma which is an inflammatory lung condition in which the airways become blocked or narrowed resulting in breathing problems, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Many individuals who suffer from Asthma experience increased symptoms when exposed to the conditions listed below:

  • Allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches, and molds.
  • Strong emotions, such as hard laughing or crying.
  • Irritants, such as cold air, strong odors, chemicals, indoor and outdoor pollutants, weather changes, and cigarette smoke.
  • Upper respiratory infections.
  • Physical exercise, especially when there are changes in weather, including changes in temperature, humidity, and wind.
  • Going out into cold air, or coming in from the heat into cool air.

Children breathe more rapidly and inhale more pollutants per pound of body weight than adults; children are especially vulnerable to respiratory hazards that maybe in the air in and around their schools and homes.

An asthma attack also affects the quality of a child’s life by contributing towards school avoidance and certain activities. Children often fall asleep in class who suffer from night time Asthma symptoms. Side effects from certain medicines can also hamper the child’s ability to concentrate properly.

Asthma is a life threatening condition and is the cause of 246 deaths in children annually.

The school nurse has a critical role in coordinating an effective Asthma management activities in schools. They are responsible for promoting communication about the child’s condition to parents, school staff and healthcare workers. An Asthma management plan and protocols must be developed that monitors the child’s Asthma condition during school hours.

There are numerous ways for a school nurse to manage students with Asthma:

  • Educating the student and his/her family in asthma management, and proper use of treatment and management devices, such as peak flow meters, metered dose inhalers, and nebulizers.
  • Delivering asthma self management lessons.
  • Gathering asthma materials and resources for students, parents, and staff.
  • Developing an asthma management policy or plan for the school in crisis situations.
  • Helping parents understand the importance of sharing appropriate information about the child’s asthma with the school nurse and others in the school community involved with the child.

The purpose of Asthma management is to prevent permanent lung damage or abnormal lung function while living a symptom free and normal life. Good Asthma management depends on the doctor as well as the individual. Proper education by healthcare professionals means that the patient can effectively manage the condition between doctor visits.

Remember, an Asthma attack can result in a life or death situation so ensure that your child’s school follows effective Asthma management plans.

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