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Asthma 

The goal of asthma management is for a child to be symptom free, have uninterrupted school attendance and be able to fully participate in activities. This requires close collaboration between parents, schools and pediatricians/pediatric specialists.

Common Asthma Triggers

In the home 

  • Dust and dust mites
  • Family pets
  • Molds
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Cooking fumes and other strong odors
  • Smoke from wood fires or stoves

At school 

  • Dust and dust mite
  • Chalk dust
  • Exercise
  • Odors from cleansers, paint, etc. 

In public 

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Air pollution, including car exhaust
  • Cold or dry air
  • Sudden weather changes
  • Pollen
  • Car exhaust
  • Odors such as perfume

Infections, such as colds, flus or pneumonia; emotional stress (including fear, hard crying or laughing); and other environmental factors can also trigger asthma symptoms.

How to Spot Asthma

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing (a whistling noise during exhalation)
  • Shortness of breath, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing 
  • Chest tightness
  • Symptoms appear or worsen at night
  • Symptoms are related to a trigger (see above)

Asthma Readiness Checklist

  • Does your school help minimize exposure to environmental triggers such as dust and other allergens that can bring on an asthma attack?
  • Do school health officials, teachers and coaches work with parents and pediatricians to know how to best manage a child's asthma to prevent absences and encourage participation in activity?
  • Are children allowed to carry inhalers with them (with parental and pediatrician approval) and is staff informed of their need to take medication?
  • Are backup inhalers and other devices for asthma treatment (such as peak flow meters to measure air flow) available and easily accessible in the school health office? Is staff trained to use these devices?
  • Does the school have an emergency plan in case of a severe asthma attack, including phone numbers for the pediatrician and parents?

Asthma Treatment Plans

If:
Children begin to cough, wheeze or feel short of breath but remain alert and can speak easily…
Then:
Children may be having a mild asthma attack. Schools should administer quick-relief medication and notify parents. It may be advisable for a pediatrician to be contacted regarding changing a patient's medication dosage to maintain better control of symptoms.

If:
Children are actively coughing and wheezing, feel short of breath, and having trouble walking or talking…
Then:
Children may be having a moderate asthma attack. Schools should administer quick-relief medication and notify parents. If children improve, their pediatricians should be contacted for an appointment.

If:
Children continue to have symptoms after medication has been given or if children have extreme difficulty breathing, severe coughing or wheezing, poor skin color and visible "drawing in" of muscles of the neck, abdomen and chest in order to breath…
Then:
Schools should activate emergency asthma plans and seek emergency medical care immediately.

Advice for Parents

  1. Monitor symptoms. If asthma symptoms aren't as well under control as they used to be, parents should speak to their pediatricians about updating treatment to help prevent symptoms.
  2. Work closely with schools. Besides home, school is the place children spend most of their time. It's important for parents to take the lead to ensure that they, schools and pediatricians work together to control asthma, prevent school absences and keep children active.
  3. Educate. Other family members, teachers, school health professionals and children's peers should be encouraged to learn more about asthma. Remember, with proper therapy, asthma doesn't have to be a "big deal," but it requires the awareness and knowledge of all those around your child.

To learn more about our services, go to mcghealth.org/Kids.
To make an appointment with one of our pediatric specialists or subspecialists, simply call 706-721-KIDS (5437) or 1-888-721-KIDS.