Asthma and Schools
Asthma & Schools
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ABOUT ASTHMA
Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs that afflicts children of all ages, race and ethnic groups. It is:
• the leading chronic illness among children today, currently affecting 1 in 4 children and 1 in 7 teenagers.
• one of the few chronic diseases where the prevalence rates are increasing despite improved medical treatments.
• a disease in which the airways of the lungs constrict because of irritation or inflammation. Mucus obstructs the tubes, thus making it difficult to breathe.
Asthma cannot be cured; however, it can be controlled with proper diagnosis and management. When asthma is controlled, the student will be able to participate in daily activities without having symptoms, and should not miss out on the benefits of participating in any physical activity or sport.
WHY ASTHMA NEEDS TO BE CONTROLLED IN SCHOOLS
1. Academic Performance
When nighttime sleep is disrupted by asthma symptoms, children generally have greater difficulty with schoolwork, poor recall, lack of concentration and mood swings.
2. Student Attendance
Frequent school absences, school health office visits, asthma episodes, emergency room visits and hospitalizations prevent children with asthma from learning.
3. Participation in Physical Activities
80 % to 90% of asthmatics will experience breathing difficulties when participating in strenuous exercise. Symptoms vary greatly from student to student, range from mild to severe and may even require emergency medical care. There is currently a growing body of evidence that links Obesity with Asthma and its severity, therefore making it very important for all Asthmatic Children to participate in regular physical activity to control obesity but also to increase their lung capacity.
Asthma cannot be cured.
However when CONTROLLED the student will be able to:
• Attend school
• Sleep through the night without cough or wheeze
• Be fully active & play any sport
• Avoid urgent care visits to the school health office, health care provider, emergency room & hospital.
SCHOOLS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
• Provide asthma education for students, parents and school staff about asthma control.
• Promote ongoing communication between students, parents, school nurses, teachers, and administrators to ensure that the students’ asthma is well managed at school.
• Identify and refer students who have signs of uncontrolled asthma to the school nurse and parent.
• Incorporate an Asthma Action Plan* into medication/school health policies and procedures for students with asthma.
• Reduce asthma triggers in the school environment.
• Develop school-wide emergency plans/procedures for asthma episodes.
*An Asthma Action Plan (AAP) is a written customized plan to be completed by the health care provider to help students manage their asthma. Facilitates communication with the school setting so that school staff will know what to watch for and what steps to take to help students
OPEN AIRWAYS FOR SCHOOLS
Open Airways for Schools (OAS) is an award-winning school-based program. In 1992, it was honored with a Health Education Research Award from the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program. In 1997, it was pilot tested throughout New York through a collaborative effort of the State Education Department and the American Lung Association. NYS Department of Health, State Education Department and American Lung have supported the implementation of this program in elementary schools for over 8 year.
It has been proven that children who participate in Open Airways for Schools
• improve their academic performance,
• miss school less often for asthma
• have fewer and less severe asthma attacks,
• have more confidence in their ability to take more steps to manage their asthma,
• exert greater influence on their parents' asthma management decisions
Open Airways for Schools can be a vital step in helping to mobilize
community response to the needs of children with asthma. The program teaches children, aged 8-11, how to detect the warning signs of Asthma, including the environmental factors that can trigger an attack. This is accomplished through six 40-minute lessons, which are taught by school nurses during the school day or after school.
Other School Programs: There are many important factors in manageing asthma in the schools setting. It is essentional that the parents, Schools staff and phyiscian be on the same page to help the child maintain good asthma control.
In the school setting many opportunities and resouces are available to use...
1. Open Airways for Schools (3-5th graders)
2. Asthma 101 for Faculty and Staff
3. Winning with Asthma for Athletics (www.winningwithasthma.org)
4. RCAN and local agency's Case Management programs
5. EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools: an interview style resource to assist schools in improving the Indoor Air Quality (www.epa.gov/tfs)
6. CDC School Health Index: www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/asthma
7. Asthma Friendly Schools Initiative (AFSI): from the CDC and ALA national to improve the "systems" that care for kids with asthma within the school districts. A very successful Pilot was implementated in the Rush Henrietta School District (www.rhnet.org)
RCAN also works to fill needs within the schools across our area. Some Finger Lakes local needs that have been filled include our development, implementation and participantion with:
- Asthma Action Plans (english & spanish; low reading levels)
- Steps to follow in an Asthma Episode posters (for the classrooms)
- School informational annual mailings
- School Nurse reported asthma prevalence surveys (real time data each Spring)
- Working with Head Start and Day Care programs to bring Asthma Education to their location
- School Based Health Clinic projects in the Urban areas.