Every year there is a rise in asthma flare-ups and attacks when children return to school after the summer break, increasing preventable Emergency department visits, hospitalisations and days off school.

To help combat this, Asthma Australia is urging parents to download its Back to School Asthma Pack to ensure their child is ‘asthma ready’ for school.

Asthma is the leading cause of burden of disease for school-aged children and a common factor for school absenteeism – with more than 460,000 Australians under 14 years-old having asthma.

Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman said the exact cause of the ‘Back to School asthma’ phenomenon was not known, despite being documented internationally.

“We know asthma can be triggered by a variety of factors.  So, the loss of routine asthma treatment over the summer holidays, changes in environmental allergens between home and school, and the inevitable spread of viruses from classmates could all lead to an asthma flare-up,” Ms Goldman said.

“To help prevent this, we are encouraging parents and schools to take preventative action now ahead of the new school year.”

To support parents and carers Asthma Australia has developed three steps to help children get ‘asthma ready’ for school:

  1. Have an Asthma Review with your doctor and update your child’s written Asthma Action Plan
  2. Purchase a spare reliever inhaler and spacer for your child for use at school.
  3. Talk to your child’s teacher and other relevant school staff (nurse, coaches) about your child’s asthma management.

“Schools need the tools and information to manage asthma at school. Providing a spare reliever puffer and spacer along with a written Asthma Action Plan for a child is essential,” Ms Goldman said.

Asthma Champion Theresa Tan and her 12-year-old daughter both have asthma and know more than most the stress of returning to school.

“My daughter’s asthma is mostly triggered by viruses, exercise and allergens – all of which can be found in a school environment,” she said.

“Winter and the cold/flu season can be particularly tricky. It is not uncommon for her to get a viral infection and miss a whole week of school while she recovers, as her asthma is triggered.

“I would recommend for other parents to ensure they talk to their school about their child’s asthma – especially if they are starting school for the first time.

“It is vital your school and teachers understand what might trigger your child’s asthma and how it could impact them, so their education does not suffer as a result.”

To help keep kids safe at school, Asthma Australia has launched new Asthma Guidelines for Australian Schools and a national Schools Health Check. Schools are being encouraged to go online and check that they too are ‘asthma ready’ for the year ahead.

For more information on asthma in children, parents and carers are encouraged to speak to an Asthma Educator by calling 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) or to visit asthma.org.au/back-to-school.

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