Guidelines for Parents of Children with Asthma
The Peel District School Board recognizes that there are students within the school system who have asthma. Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory condition that occurs in the airways of lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. This is a disease whose symptoms may be mild to severe, and intermittent to chronic. According to the Asthma Society of Canada (Asthma.ca) asthma is the most chronic childhood disease affecting approximately 12.5 % of children. Untreated or under treated, asthma can lead to severe respiratory distress and in rare cases can cause sudden death. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be controlled by minimizing exposure to allergens and irritants, and by the proper use of asthma medication. Ryan’s law legislation (2015) is an important step to support the well-being of students with asthma in all Peel schools.
Asthma triggers can be anything in the environment that provokes or causes asthma symptoms. Triggers and the degree of symptoms differ for each person with asthma. A trigger causes the airways to become inflamed and then cause the airway muscles to tighten, making it difficult to breathe. Triggers are everywhere. Allergic triggers can include dust mites, pollen, molds, pet dander. Non-allergic triggers can include exercise, viral infections (common colds), extreme temperatures, smoke etc.. While it is impossible to create a trigger-free environment, we can take important steps to minimize the risks for students with asthma. School staff and parents are responsible for creating safe and healthy environments for all students.
Symptoms of asthma can be reduced with medication and by decreasing the exposure to environmental triggers. Symptoms may vary and not every person will experience all the symptoms listed. Asthma Symptoms may include difficulty breathing; shortness of breath; coughing; wheezing; and chest tightness.
Asthma medications work to relieve the symptoms of asthma. There are two types of medication used to control and prevent the symptoms. Controller Medications are used daily, before or after school at home, to prevent asthma attacks. Reliever Medications are used to relieve the acute symptoms of asthma. These are also called the "rescue" inhalers and should be readily available at all times. They provide quick relief, often within minutes. They are taken only when needed.
Responsibilities of parents/guardians of students with asthma
- Arrange a meeting with the school prior to the student attending school
- Inform the school administration of your child's asthma and provide information regarding current treatment
- Provide the school with physician’s instructions for administering medication by completing (Appendix A) and Asthma Alert Emergency Plan (Appendix B) annually, including parent's consent
- Provide the school with up-to-date inhalers with your child’s name on them
- Provide the school with any updated information including emergency contacts and telephone numbers and changes in medical conditions
- Provide additional medical information if requested
- Provide your child with a Medic Alert identification bracelet
- For excursions, consider participating on field trips
- Teach your child:
- to recognize the first symptoms of asthma and to alert an adult;
- to properly self-administer their inhaler
- to communicate clearly when they feel asthma symptoms starting;
- to carry their own inhaler (e.g., fanny pack or outside compartment of their knapsack;
- to assume as much responsibility as possible for their own safety
Allergy and Asthma Information Association (AAIA) maintains a phone line for those who have questions or concerns around asthma and allergies.
Ontario Ministry of Education - Ryan's Law