Back to School with Asthma

I can't believe summer is almost over. We didn't get to do much because we had a rough summer with lots of fires, smoke and unhealthy air quality.

With a family of 5 (4 of whom have asthma), summer was a wash for us. We were stuck inside all summer because we couldn't do anything outside in the smoke.

Now it's back to school time.

It's time to get back to school supplies. The usual - backpacks, clothes, notebooks, etc. But the most important thing is to make sure you are ready for asthma.

Every year we would make sure each of our 3 kids had an Albuterol inhaler for their backpack. It's important that kids have a rescue inhaler with them at school because you never know when something might trigger an asthma attack.

Some parents worry that kids can't carry an inhaler because schools are a "drug-free zone". Every state in the U.S. has a law on the books that allows kids to carry their inhalers with them in school. BUT - you must still have a permission form signed each school year.

Every summer, School Nurse would send out a combination form. The front side of the form is an Asthma Action Plan, which helps us to know what we need to do if the kids are in their green, yellow or red zone. The back side is a "Self Administration Form." That means the doctor and I agree that the kids can recognize when they are having an asthma attack and know how to use their inhaler.

Asthma Doc fills out the form and signs it, and I give it to the school nurse. She makes sure the kid's teachers have a copy so they know what to do if one of my kids has an asthma attack at school.

I would also meet with each teacher and give them a little background on my child (Daughter has been in the hospital 4 times for asthma, Middle Son has been in the hospital 8 times, etc.) I would let them know that I always have my cell phone with me, and they can call if they are worried about my child. Since our hard-working school nurses are so busy (they have between 5-9 schools), it's up to the teacher and me to take care of my child's asthma.

Now my kids are in college

This year, I'm at a bit of a loss because my kids are in college. Oldest Son just finished his master's degree, and the Middle Son and Daughter are working on their bachelor's degree.

So now, I have to switch gears. Instead of working with the public school, I have to make sure my kids can take care of themselves in college. We found out where the Student Health Clinic is on campus and how it works. Their student health center is a pretty good deal - they don't need insurance and co-pay is only $10 - $20! They can get a breathing treatment, antibiotics, flu shot, strep test, etc.

They also offer mental health services for the college students that are depressed or having anxiety (college can be a pretty stressful time!) As a parent, I am relieved that they can help with their asthma or anything else they may need.

So, whether your kids are in public school or college, make sure that they have what they need to succeed. Asthma inhalers, an updated Asthma Action Plan, or access to the college student health center.


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