School Dances with Asthma

School dances were not my favorite activity for a variety of reasons. I’ve got a bit too much sensory weirdness to actually enjoy the loud music and flashing lights and yelling, I’m an uncoordinated dancer so I prefer my living room for such endeavors (though I did take a for-credit dance class in grade 12). I did go, briefly, to one dance in my grade 12 year because it was free (I think the DJ didn’t show up for the previous dance and they just had to play someone’s iPod?), so I have some degree of non-middle-school-forced-dance experience.

Like much of high school, school dances can be a bit of a challenge with asthma. The exertion of dancing combined with often musty school gyms and a bunch of sweaty, fragrance-drenched people can sometimes be a challenge. Yelling is also not a super lung-friendly activity (bonus for anybody who knows sign language), and all of these things—and the unexpected—can sometimes create some not-so-fun asthma situations.

Since dances are usually school-sanctioned events, students are not completely on their own—familiar teachers are present to chaperone, and—if necessary—medical records can be accessed in the event of an emergency. Students with asthma should—as always—carry their inhaler so that asthma symptoms don’t ruin a night of fun, and it’s also worth considering pre-medicating for dancing if you normally would pre-medicate for exercise. If other triggers are present, a few extra doses throughout the night might be necessary to keep up with the fun.

If you have asthma, it can be helpful to stay away from the entrances/exits where smokers are likely to congregate—many schools, still, have “smoking doors” or smoking areas on the property that constantly facilitate the flow of cigarette smoke into the building. Staying at the center of the room or by an interior door if the event is happening in a school gym can help to avoid smoke blowing into the space.

The most important thing, though, is to be prepared and have fun. If friends know about your or your teen’s asthma and can help them if they have symptoms they can’t handle themselves by notifying an adult, this can be an important safety net—as can requesting that these friends stay away from fragrant sprays or lotions for the evening as they’ll probably be in closest proximity to the person with asthma. Remember also, it is totally okay to ask a date to not wear a corsage or any real flowers if they trigger allergies—fake flowers are totally acceptable for more formal events and can be held onto as a memento without the hassle of having to press the flower in a book and then remember where it is (…do people actually do that? Yes? Okay.)

School dances can be fun, and for the most part, aren’t a big problem for students with asthma. But, as always, a little bit of preparation can help boost confidence and peace of mind—for both teens and parents.

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