Health Watch -- Managing Asthma at School

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Parents of children with chronic diseases have to do some extra planning before school starts.

It's challenging enough to manage a chronic disease like asthma during school breaks when children are at home under parents' supervision. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say it takes extra planning to manage a disease like asthma at school with minimal disruption of the school day.

Dr. Patty Hicks, a UT Southwestern pediatrician, says parents should work with the school to develop an action plan for their children. First, learn the school's medication rules - what medications can be given, when and by whom. Some schools require all medications to be given only by the school nurse, while some might allow a child to carry his or her own inhaler.

Make sure the school nurse and your child's teachers know about the child's condition, what medications need to be taken and on what schedule, and what to do in case of an emergency.

Some schools use a custom-tailored asthma treatment plan that uses a peak-flow meter to determine how much a child's air flow is blocked. From there, the school nurse can decide what treatment needs to be given, ranging from inhaler use to emergency medical care. That takes the guesswork out of what to do for a child having an asthma attack. It also serves as an early warning system and limits the disruption of normal school-day activities.

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Aug. 2004

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