To the Editor:
Back to school season is upon us! For many families, there’s more to do than sign up for activities and shop for supplies: 2,277 kids in Alexandria, 3,155 in Arlington, 417 in Fairfax City, and 23,441 in Fairfax County have asthma.
Asthma accounts for more than 10 million missed days of school each year, so if your child has the disease, add a few extra items to your to-do list to help keep them healthy at school this year.
First, call or visit the school nurse. Find out what forms you need to fill out, how to provide your child’s medication, and what you have to do to make sure your child is allowed to carry and use his or her inhaler at school.
Next, take your child to his or her healthcare provider for a check-up, and work together to complete an asthma action plan(http://virginiaasthmacoalition.org/asthmaactionplan.html.) Filling out this form with your child’s triggers and medication, and keeping copies at home and at school, ensures that everyone will know what to do if your child starts experiencing asthma symptoms.
Also, back-to-school season is also flu season, and kids with asthma are at particular risk – respiratory diseases like the flu are big asthma triggers. Make sure all your kids get a flu shot to help keep your whole family health.
Finally, check your local air quality in the morning. Kids with asthma are especially vulnerable to soot and smog, which we sometimes seen in high quantities here. If there’s an air quality alert in the forecast, your child might need to take it easy at recess, P.E., or sports practice.
Asthma doesn’t have to keep your child from having a safe and healthy school year. For more tips and resources, visit http://www.lung.org/about-us/our-impact/top-stories/prepare-to-go-back-to-school-with-asthma.html.
Laura Kate Bender