Lung Association Urges Back-to-School Asthma Checklist

SATURDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) — With the start of school here, the American Lung Association is advising parents of children with asthma to follow a simple checklist to ensure this sometimes debilitating disease doesn't hinder their child's academic year.

Almost 11 percent of school-age children have asthma. Annually, these students miss some 13 million days in the classroom because of asthma, making it one of the most common reasons kids are absent from school.

The American Lung Association also urges parents who have children with asthma to:

  • Schedule an asthma check-up: Even if your child's condition is well controlled, meeting with your pediatrician is also an opportunity to evaluate medications and physical activity restrictions.
  • Confirm medicines are up-to-date and fill prescriptions: If your child uses an inhaler, ensure you have a current prescription for the new HFA inhaler (the old CFC inhalers will now longer be available after Dec. 31, 2008). Ensure your child's asthma prescriptions have sufficient refills available and have not expired.
  • Know about prescription assistance services: Two organizations can help if you have issues affording your child's asthma medication. The Partnership for Prescription Assistance can be reached at 1-888-4PPA-NOW. Rx Outreach provides online help at
  • Have an asthma action plan: An asthma action plan details personal information about the child's asthma symptoms, medications, any physical activity limitations, and provides specific instructions about what to do if an asthma attack does not improve with prescribed medication. Provide this to all your student's teachers, coaches, the school nurse, and the front office administrators.
  • Meet with your child's school nurse and teachers: Discuss with your child's teachers specific triggers and typical symptoms. Learn if the school allows students to carry and independently administer their asthma medication. Learn what steps need to be taken to have your child carry and use his or her inhaler if recommended by a doctor.
  • Know your schools asthma emergency plan: Ensure that your child's school knows how to contact you in case of an emergency. You should also know the school's past history of dealing with asthma episodes. Confirm that school staffers — including after-school coaches and bus drivers — have been trained to respond to asthma emergencies.

— Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Lung Association, news release, August 2008

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