Preparing for asthma as the school year approaches

Matt Woodley

22/01/2019 3:22:19 PM

The number of children presenting with asthma is likely to soon increase, with cases expected to triple during the first month of the school year.

The National Asthma Council Australia recommends children follow a GP-prescribed treatment plan.
The National Asthma Council Australia recommends children follow a GP-prescribed treatment plan.

February is seen as a particularly dangerous time for the one in nine Australian children living with asthma, with up to one quarter of asthma-related children’s hospital admissions occurring during this month.
Childhood asthma peaks in primary school-aged children and affects mainly boys; however, adolescents are most at risk of death as a result of the disease.
Respiratory paediatrician and National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson Dr Louisa Owens said it is important to identify factors that contribute to children’s asthma at this time of year in order to help prevent flare-ups.
‘Possible causes for flare-ups in February include not taking medication as prescribed during the summer holidays; the stress of returning to school; allergic triggers at school such as mould and dust, and close quarters with new classmates who can bring a new batch of cold and flu bugs,’ she said.
‘For parents and carers, if you see your child is using more of their blue reliever, make sure you take them to the GP to have their asthma reviewed.
‘Following a GP-prescribed treatment plan and properly managing a child’s air quality and environment, such as helping them avoid smoke, can truly transform a child’s life, allowing them to perform better in school, build confidence in sports and simply get outside and play.’
The National Asthma Council Australia suggests parents follow a specific checklist as children return to school:

  • Schedule an asthma check-up with your health provider.
  • Share a copy of your child’s up-to-date written asthma action plan with school staff and after-school carers.
  • Ask your child to let school staff know when their asthma is flaring up.
  • If your child has exercise-induced asthma, ensure they take their reliever before sport.
  • Explain to your child their asthma triggers and why it’s important to avoid them.
  • Make sure your child is taking asthma prevention medicine, as prescribed.
  • Check that your child knows how to effectively use their puffer by themselves (if old enough), or with help.
  • Get the seasonal flu shot every year for your child and family members.

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