ASTHMA: A COMMON ILLNESS IN CHILDREN

In Canada, the frequency of asthma among children has quadrupled in the last decade. This disease is one of the most common causes of hospitalization, medical consultation and school absenteeism.

There are frequently one or more students with asthma in each class. Asthma is a well-known disease, but it is sometimes the subject of preconceived ideas. Yet, it is now possible to live well with this affection.

A child should not be absent from school, have difficulty functioning normally, stop participating in sports activities, or experience any discomfort at school due to asthma .

THE TREATMENT OF ASTHMA IN SCHOOLS

Asthma treatment uses two types of drugs: control drugs and rescue medications. The first must be taken regularly, once or twice a day (morning and / or evening). Therefore, there is no need for the child to bring his control medication to school.

Rescue medications are used to relieve the acute symptoms of asthma. An asthmatic child should always have their rescue medicine on hand, whether at school or elsewhere. He can take it as a preventive measure 15 minutes before physical exertion. It is therefore essential that the child have access to his rescue medication before recess and physical education classes.

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THE CARE BY THE CHILD

From an early age, your child should be aware and empowered about his illness. He should be aware of the triggers of his asthma and learn to recognize them. It should also: 

  • know how to use the device he uses to inhale his rescue medication;
  • recognize the circumstances in which it must be used.

When your child is at home, under your supervision, let him take his medication by himself. This will promote its autonomy. The more he uses his medication alone, the better he gets to school! You can also :

  • watch your child use his medication and correct his technique if it is not optimal;
  • consult your pharmacist before the start of the school year to check the technique of use of your child;
  • discuss the possibility of using a restraint chamber, if appropriate, to reduce the difficulties of coordination and use of the device.

Finally, encourage your child to always have their rescue medication on hand and to make it available to school staff. Frequent reminders at the beginning of the school year will establish a routine to avoid oversights.

THE COLLABORATION OF THE SCHOOL STAFF

Asthma control is a team effort! The collaboration of your child’s teacher and the school nurse is essential. Here are some tips to make it easier for the staff in charge of your child.

  • Inform the teachers and nurses at the school that your child has asthma.
  • Describe the symptoms to watch for (difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, etc.).
  • Specify in what situations your child should take their rescue medication.
  • Label your child’s rescue medication. If necessary, ask your pharmacist to give you a label that clearly describes the dose to be administered.
  • Make sure that your child’s responsible adults in school know how to administer emergency medication when needed.
  • Inform school staff of factors that could trigger a seizure or asthma symptoms in your child, such as physical activity, stress, cold, or contact with animals.
  • Clarify who to contact in an emergency.
  • All this information should be gathered in a clear action plan, presented in writing and given to all those who will support your child. Ask a knowledgeable health professional to help you write it.

To ensure optimal management of asthma in school, a close link between your child and all stakeholders in the school environment is essential. All must be able to take the necessary measures to ensure the well-being of your child. Like a conductor, supervise the smooth running of things so that the progress of your child’s school is done in harmony!