August 3, 2016

Summer Safety Tips: Asthma Basics for Back to School

child using inhaler mask for asthma

Dr. Steven Julius of Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville offers these great tips for managing your child’s asthma when returning to school, as seen in WNC Parent.


Does your back-to-school list include your son’s or daughter’s rescue inhaler?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, kids miss more than 10 million days of school yearly due to asthma. The start of the school year can be challenging when kids are exposed to a variety of asthma triggers while having been off their asthma controller therapy because they don’t appear to show asthma symptoms over the summer break. Asthma can be more troublesome during the school year, and these tips will help get them through the year:

  • Discuss your child’s asthma plan with their doctor. Before classes begin, review your daily and emergency asthma therapy with your primary care provider or asthma specialist. Many schools have asthma guidelines as well as official paperwork to be completed by the parent and the treating physician. The paperwork typically includes identification of asthma triggers, the asthma action plan and an indication of your child’s ability to self-administer asthma rescue therapy.
  • Make sure asthma medication is up to date. Check that the medications have not expired and are still functional. If an MDI is being used for the first time or it has not been used for quite some time, the canister needs to be “primed” prior to use by puffing it two to three times in the air.
  • Make the school nurse and appropriate staff aware that your child has asthma. Parents should ensure that the school has both a copy of the asthma action plan and is aware whether or not the child is capable of administering their own rescue inhaler and therefore should be allowed to carry the medication with them.
  • Have an asthma therapy plan at school for when problems occur. In school, children with asthma should have access to a short-acting bronchodilator to use as needed. Don’t forget to make sure your child has their rescue inhaler available during field trips. Proper technique for administration of inhaled medication is critical.

Enjoy everything western North Carolina has to offer this summer, but start thinking about your child’s asthma plan so they can focus on academics, sports and other fun activities during the school year without the distraction of uncontrolled asthma.


Dr. Steven Julius is a pediatric pulmonologist at Mission Children’s Hospital. For more information, visit www.missionchildrens.org.