Catch the bus to better asthma control

Getting control of asthma for those with good access to care is often relatively simple. Take some medications, drive to a doctor’s appointment, follow your asthma action plan, discuss what roadblocks you see, and you’ll probably be good to go. I doubt I’m the only one that finds it difficult to concentrate when my asthma is acting up.

Educating kids for better asthma control

Unfortunately for many school children near me, asthma is a significant interruption to their learning experiences. In the poor neighborhoods of St. Louis the childhood asthma rate jumps to 1 in 5 from the national average of 1 in 10.1 These kids often end up in the emergency room for care. In 2009 my local children’s hospital looked for a way to try to help keep these kids out of the ER and being regular kids. They came up with a medical bus that visits elementary schools in parts of town where access to care is a significant concern. Kids with asthma receive education and tracking of their control to help keep them healthy.2 This intervention is bearing fruit. The Healthy Kids Express recently saw its 250,000th patient.1 The kids are in school more, using their inhalers effectively, and have a 25% reduction in hospital visits.2 I’m glad that they have found a way to help the students find better asthma control.

Management and support systems for school to support kids with asthma

School children with asthma just like their grown up counterparts spend plenty of time indoors. Another tool that public health departments use to help reduce childhood asthma ER visits is home visits and trigger assessments. Evaluating indoor air quality and working to reduce asthma triggers can result in 80% fewer emergency room visits. If a home visit or two can make such a significant reduction in ER visits it seems like a no brainer to me. I assume we’re all looking for that place in asthma control where ER visits are few and far between.

These programs align with the CDC’s strategies for creating a good learning environment for children with asthma. The schools are providing management and support systems, school health services, asthma education, a healthy school environment, and coordinating efforts to better improve asthma.3 All of which should help students achieve the 6th strategy: safe enjoyable physical education and activity.

It is troubling that I live in a place where African American children are 6.6 times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than their Caucasian peers.2 I hope that some day we will have worked to build a St. Louis where asthma control is a reality for all school children. Perhaps other inner cities will learn from the gains we’ve made. Perhaps they will also find other innovations that can make the joy of running on a playground a reality for all kids.

Does your local school or children’s hospital provide the support your child needs? How does you community respond to support kids with difficult asthma?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
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