As the carefree summer days pass us by, it’s getting closer: September, starting school, the cooler evenings and the seasons changing. Filling in the endless new school medical forms was a stark reminder of our daughters (officially undiagnosed), suspected Asthma.
It is easy to forget about it in these warmer months when the viral coughs and chesty colds seem a distant memory. I admit, the preventer inhaler has been carelessly cast aside while it seems so unnecessary. I very nearly forgot to collect the ventolin inhaler from the medical office in the excitement of the last day of pre-school. Nearly, but not quite.
It’s quite daunting to know where we go from here – in advising our daughter’s new school and teachers on how to deal with her suspected condition, and it’s illusive presentation. Unlike the stereotypical asthma attack I understood, hers has always presented as a persistent cough – easy to overlook as an Asthma attack.
Asthma UK have published some must-read advice for parents of children with Asthma as the new school year approaches. It’s the perfect time to reassess the condition, establish an action plan and take a thorough look at what, if anything has changed. For us, it’s more important than ever to build a stronger relationship with our GP and ensure the school communication channels are open, as we enter the school system for the very first time. It’s certainly got me adding some things to my to do list. Starting with tracking down that preventer inhaler. Today.
The advice from Asthma UK, www.asthma.org.uk:
Going back to school with asthma
Whether your child is itching to try out their new school shoes, or still pretending that they’ll never have to hand in their homework, the start of a new school year can feel a bit overwhelming. And if your child has a long-term condition like asthma, it’s understandable to have mixed feelings about leaving them with a new teacher on that first day back.
But from speaking to parents and asthma experts, we’ve found a few things you can do to help keep them safe, and take a load off your mind.
Stay in good habits
At the start of each school year, there’s a big rise in the number of children who have to go to hospital with their asthma.
It might be because there are more triggers around – things like mould, damp weather, and the viruses that cause coughs and colds. Or it might be because children have got out of the habit of taking their preventer medicines over the summer holidays.
It’s pretty hard to avoid cold weather or runny noses, so the best thing you can do is make sure your child is consistently taking their preventer medicines over the summer, even when they feel well. That way, when they do pick up a winter bug, they’ll be less likely to develop asthma symptoms too.
Work as a team
You know all there is to know about your child’s symptoms, triggers and medicines – but knowing that you’ve passed that information on to their teacher, and anyone else who looks after them, can really take the pressure off. And it can help your child to feel calmer too, if they know that their teacher, swimming instructor AND Auntie Liz from next door all know what to do if they start feeling worse.
One of the best ways to keep all that information together is to use our child asthma action plan – and research shows that people who fill one in with their doctor are much less likely to need an emergency appointment. Other parents tell us that they make copies for their children’s teachers, club leaders and the fridge door, and take a photo of it on their phone so it’s always to hand.
Book an asthma review
As well as changing over the course of the year, children’s asthma can change as they grow up – they might start reacting to new triggers, or need a smaller dose of medicine to stay well. So we recommend getting your child’s asthma reviewed by your GP or asthma nurse every six months. It’s your chance to talk about any new symptoms or triggers you’ve noticed, and update the action plan if anything’s changed.
Check out www.asthma.org.uk/back-to-school for more tips from parents and experts on talking to your child’s teacher, putting together an asthma kit and more. And remember that Asthma UK’s Helpline, staffed by specialised asthma nurses, is open Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 – just call 0300 222 5800.