Teachers and Administrators
“WHAT ADMINISTRATORS, TEACHERS & SUPPORT
STAFF NEED TO KNOW”
Asthma is the leading chronic illness among children today, currently affecting 1 in 4 children and 1 in 7 teenagers. It is 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 sports.
Early recognition of an asthma episode will allow prompt treatment in hopes of preventing an asthma emergency.
Symptoms can vary greatly and may include:
shortness of breath
wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound)
tightness of the chest or throat
coughing at night or after physical activity
cough that lasts more than a week.
On occasion, students can experience severe breathing difficulty. This is an ASTHMA EMERGENCY and can be fatal if not treated. Symptoms and signs of an asthma emergency include:
breathing with chest or neck pulled in
nostrils opens wide when inhaling
difficulty walking or talking
increased respiratory rate
nailbeds and lips may turn blue
Every effort must be made to reduce the likelihood of an asthma emergency at school and to ensure prompt emergency treatment. Student, parents, school staff, school health personnel and the student’s health care provider must share this responsibility. An important preventative measure is to minimize a child’s exposure to environmental and social/recreational activities that may trigger asthma symptoms.
Triggers that can make asthma worse
allergens: pets (cats, dogs, birds), house dust mites, cockroaches, pollen, molds
irritants: cigarette or wood smoke, scented products, strong odors, air pollution
respiratory tract infections
changes in weather and temperature
Since asthma affects each child differently, the amount and frequency of medication will depend on each child’s asthma. Good communication with parents is needed to ensure that the provider’s orders are followed correctly.
* “Reliever/rescue medicines” open the airway by relaxing the muscles around the airways. They are used for quick relief as needed to treat asthma episodes and should be taken when symptoms are first noticed. They can also be used before exercise to prevent exercise induced symptoms.
* “Controller medicines” prevent asthma symptoms by decreasing inflammation in the airways. They are used for long-term control and should be taken on a regular basis (often every day) when asthma symptoms occur more than twice a week.
"WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR STUDENTS"
Be aware of which students have asthma. At the beginning of the school year, review the student’s Asthma Action Plan or Emergency Care Plan with the school nurse. A copy of this plan should be readily available on site, and should be taken on field trips. Students’ requiring medication at school must have documentation provided by the physician on file with the school nurse.
Changes in a student’s health status should be communicated as soon a possible between school staff and school nurse. Share information provided by parents.
ALWAYS MAKE SURE THE STUDENT HAS ACCESS TO HIS/HER RESCUE INHALER. The student MUST be able to take the appropriate reliever/rescue medicine at the onset of symptoms.
Does your School have a Board of Education (BOE) level Asthma School Policy or Chronic Disease Policy on how to treat Asthma or Chronic Disease in your district?
YOU NEED ONE!!!
RCAN can help you to develop your program and sustainable policy using the Asthma Friendly School District Model (a CDC evidence based model)... Technical Assistance and some grant funding are available to schools that are interested in making these permanent and sustainable changes.
Carry & Use "Inhaler Law"
New York State Consolidated Laws: Education
S 916. Pupils afflicted with asthma. The board of education or trustees of each school district and board of cooperative educational services shall allow pupils who have been diagnosed by a physician or other duly authorized health care provider with a severe asthmatic condition to carry and use a prescribed inhaler during the school day, with the written permission of a physician or other duly authorized health care provider, and parental consent, based on such physician's or provider’s determination that such pupil is subject to sudden asthmatic attacks severe enough to debilitate such pupil. A record of such permission shall be maintained in the school office.