Every year there is a well-documented rise in asthma flare-ups when children return to school after the school holidays. This results in a significant increase in Emergency Department visits, hospitalisations, and days off school.
Not only is this unsettling for children as they start a new year at school, but often it impacts on time off work for the parents/carers also. In light of the recent poor air quality due to bushfires children with asthma are especially susceptible to an asthma flare-up.
An asthma-ready return to school
Be Asthma-ready back to school. New hat – check. New uniform – check. Water bottle – check. Spare asthma spacer and reliever – please check.
We know preparing for back-to-school time can be a rush. But one thing you shouldn’t rush is your child’s asthma management. Back to school is an ordinarily high-risk time for children with asthma and returning to the classroom is a peak time for hospital presentations due to asthma. In light of the recent poor air quality due to bushfires children with asthma are especially susceptible to an asthma flare-up.
Often this can be prevented. Download our easy Back-To-School Asthma Checklist to help your child to be asthma-ready for school. Update your child’s Asthma Action Plan and see your doctor for an asthma review, give your school a spare labelled spacer, together with their reliever medication, and talk to the school, teachers or carers about your child’s asthma.
Back to school…is your child asthma-ready? – please check.
Why do asthma flare-ups happen at this time?
Our asthma experts tell us that major factors include:
- With the loss of routine over the summer holidays, sometimes preventer medicines are not taken daily as prescribed and Asthma Action Plans are not adhered to as strictly.
- The inevitable spread of viruses when children return to school and mix with each other.
What role do parents play?
If you are concerned about smoke exposure during school hours and your child has been showing symptoms from smoke exposure, seek advice from your doctor prior to heading back to school as your child’s medication and Asthma Action Plan may need adjusting to suit the current conditions.
Additionally, be sure to also contact the school and your child’s teacher and/or carer to discuss protection measures. Protection measures may include checking air quality regularly, identifying a clean air shelter at the school and adjusting plans like outdoor sports.
Please note, while facemasks have been recommended for use by people at high risk during the smoky conditions, facemasks are not recommended for children under 14 as they are not considered safe or effective. Facemasks must be form fitting and generally children’s faces are too small to create a tight seal.
To ensure your child is prepared for the return to school:
- See your GP before school goes back to update your child’s Asthma Action Plan
- Keep vigilant with your child’s preventer medication and ensure they take this as prescribed and
- Talk with your child’s teacher and/or carer.
- Asthma is different for every child. When meeting with your child’s teacher or carer, discuss your child’s asthma, including their symptoms and severity.
- You can use your child’s Asthma Action Plan as a tool to talk about their asthma medication, how to use this (a demonstration could be helpful) and the extent to which they can self-manage.
- Ask about your child’s school asthma policy and establish two-way communication channels around your child’s asthma, including reporting of any flare-ups and use of medication at school.
*For more information on asthma in children visit https://asthma.org.au/about-asthma/asthma-and-your-child/
- Consider downloading and using the Kiss myAsthma app – an asthma app designed for young people to help track symptoms, access your action plan, learn about asthma and set goals.
What role do schools and health professionals play?
School staff and health professionals play a key role in reducing the risk of asthma flare-ups when children return to school.
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