If you have a child with asthma, now is the time to revisit their asthma action plan so you are prepared for the annual increase in asthma attacks that occurs each year as kids return to the classroom. A dramatic rise in the number of asthma flare-ups occurs each year from late August through the end of September, according to a Univera Healthcare review of public health records.
“The annual spike is caused, in part, by kids being exposed to more germs once they return to school,” says Lisa Y. Harris, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer at Univera Healthcare. “It’s also the peak time of year for mold and pollen, which can trigger airway inflammation that can launch an asthma attack.”
Dr. Harris, who is board certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, advises parents to use the final weeks of summer to make sure that prescribed asthma control medications are being used as directed, and that a doctor’s note is on file with the child’s school so that a supply of those medications can be kept there in case of an emergency.
Parents should also use these last few weeks of summer to consult with their health care provider to develop or update their child’s asthma action plan. This is a written plan that details a child’s daily asthma treatment including which medicines to take and when, and the child’s specific attack triggers. The action plan also explains how to identify when the child’s asthma symptoms are severe enough to contact the provider, or to take the child to urgent care or a hospital emergency room.
“All adults and schools or other sites that care for a child with asthma should have a copy of the asthma action plan and understand their responsibilities regarding the child’s care,” says Dr. Harris.
Before the start of school:
- Check with your health care provider to make sure that prescribed asthma medications are up to date and working, and that permissions are in place for their use at school, if needed.
- Make sure your child takes all asthma medications as directed.
- Alert all adults at school and elsewhere who work with your child to recognize the signs of an asthma attack.
- Empower your child to notice and report asthma triggers and signs of a pending attack.
- Prevent the spread of germs by encouraging proper handwashing, social distancing, and making sure that every family member is current on all recommended vaccinations, including the annual flu shot.
View this health.ny.gov (PDF), for a free New York state asthma action plan template. Please share this information with your groups.