asthmaChildren with asthma can do just about anything that other children do, as long as they have the right management plan. That means communication between the home, the school and the doctor’s office. The school nurse can work closely with your child’s doctor to make sure your child gets the best care.

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What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your ability to breathe. Your airways, the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs, become tight, swollen and produce mucus. The airways are also sensitive, and may react strongly to things that you are allergic to or find irritating. Symptoms of asthma are wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and trouble breathing. Asthma can cause symptoms ranging from minor wheezing to life-threatening asthma attacks.

Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled through careful disease management and avoidance of triggers – those things that cause your asthma to flare-up. Taking care of your asthma may require taking long-term control medications to prevent flare-ups and short-term rescue medications to control symptoms once they start. You may need to make changes in your home, school or work environment. If asthma is well controlled, airways are open, and children and adults can live normal, active lives and are encouraged to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities!! Even many Olympians have asthma but take good practice in controlling it. If uncontrolled, asthma can disrupt sleep, cause children to miss school and adults to miss work, and may require hospitalization.

– Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Information on Asthma

Administering Asthma Medication in School

Nurses need to be able to communicate with parents and doctors to to manage asthma so children can go to school in all weather, participate in physical education and sports and be part of their own management as they grow and mature.

In order to give medication during the school day, the following must be submitted:

  • Medication Authorization Form  – must be completed by the child’s physician and returned to the School Nurse.
  • Signed medication order – The written medication order form FROM your child’s primary care provider (your child’s physician, nurse practitioner, etc.) should be completed and returned to the school nurse. This order must be renewed as needed and at the beginning of each school year with a signed Doctor’s order and parental consent.
  • It is also very helpful to bring your nurse a copy of the student’s “Asthma Action Plan” from the doctor so they can be updated and aware of the triggers and frequency of the student’s asthma episodes. Each child’s plan describes how to control asthma long term and how to handle worsening asthma. It also explains when to call the doctor or go to the emergency room.
  • If the student is old enough to self-administer their own medication, the parent should complete the Medication Self-Administration Form together with the school nurse so the nurse is aware of the child’s condition and medication.

Helping Boston be an Asthma-Friendly School District!

From asthma specialists providing trainings for the nurses to collaboration with MassCOSH to improve indoor air quality, Boston is working hard to be “asthma-friendly.” This means taking proactive steps to support children with asthma during the school day. Nurses observe how children are breathing at school. They know how each child responds after recess and gym and can give feedback to the child’s doctor if they are having difficulty and might need a medication adjustment.

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