Back to school tips for kids with asthma

Dallisya Whatley has these scary episodes when she just can't catch her breath. She’ll be running, she says, and suddenly begins gasping for air.  Whatley says, "Sometimes, it's hard to breathe.  And you have to stop doing everything."
 
Last fall, a severe asthma attack landed the Gideon's Elementary student in an intensive care unit.

So, this school year, Dallisya's mom isn't taking any chances, bringing her to here to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding to see Dr. Ann-Marie Brooks.   Dr. Brooks says, “The most important thing is that asthma is very individual and it's not the same for all children. So, what we strongly urge parents to do is to have their back-to-school visits with their doctors."
 
Brooks says make sure you understand what's driving your child's asthma.   She explains, “When you know as a parent what your child's individual trigger is, then you can meet with the teacher beforehand and try to make sure the classroom is as safe for your child as possible So are they sensitive to smells? Are they sensitive to air fresheners and cleaning detergents? Are their animals that are going to be in the classrooms? Hamsters aren't great for every child."
 
Learning and practicing how to use daily inhalers and asthma rescue medications is critical.  Brooks says, “Most children would love to get this (inhaling the medication) over with. They put it in their mouth, spray it and move on.  That is not what we recommend."
 
Instead, Dr. Brooks says encourage your child to slow down, always using a dose spacer attached to their inhaler. Practice with your child.  Brooks says, “It's important for parents to really stand and watch and coach their children to take the medicine properly. That medicine has to get deep down into the lungs and attach to the lining of the lungs and airways."
 
Brooks says you should leave your pediatrician’s office with an asthma action plan that clearly explains your child’s triggers, and what medications should be taken daily and carried as “rescue” medications in case the child has an asthma attack.  Share that plan with your child’s teacher, schools, babysitter and any other adult who spends time with the child.


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