Thousands of students will load up their backpacks with notebooks and pencils as they head back to school this fall. But another group of students will be carrying something extra – an inhaler, an EpiPen or instructions for the school nurse on what to do in the case of an allergy attack.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, more than half of students with asthma and allergies miss school because of their condition every year. So before kiddos head back to the classroom, it’s important to make sure their asthma and allergies are in check.
Dr. Carolyn R. Word, board certified in Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at Charleston Allergy and Asthma explains what parents can do this summer to ensure their students are fully prepared to manage asthma or food allergies at school.
Schedule an appointment with a specialist
Most schools will require updated documents at the beginning of a new school year, so it makes sense to set an appointment with your child’s allergist to assess their medications – whether that’s an EpiPen or a dosage of Benadryl. As children grow, their medications may need to be adjusted, so Word recommends an annual checkup to ensure children are getting the right dosage of medication.
For children with food allergies, checking in with the allergist could bring good news. Depending on the food allergy, some children will outgrow it over time. About 20 percent – or one in five children – will outgrow a peanut allergy. “There’s a chance your child could be the one,” said Word.
Schools also usually require an asthma action plan, so use this back-to-school time to follow up with the doctor. They can administer a new breathing test and make sure the child doesn’t need an adjustment to medications.
Teach older students to self-manage
By the time children reach middle school, they are usually able to carry an inhaler with them rather than having to go to the school nurse. But that means parents need to instruct their child on proper techniques as well as discussing when it’s time to use the inhaler according to Word.
And for high school students with asthma and allergies, use this fall season to help them better understand their symptoms and medications. Parents have been handling doctor’s appointments and medications for years, but for teens, it’s time to take charge of their own health. This is particularly important for students who will be heading off to college and need to be able to manage their medical conditions independently, said Word.
Get a head start on spring allergies
For students with springtime allergies – especially to grass and trees – fall is the time to start thinking about treatment. Children can begin immunotherapy in the fall as it takes six months to be effective, or take a FDA-approved oral tablet for treating grass allergies three months before grass season, explained Word.
Ensure your child doesn’t have to miss out in school this year because of asthma or allergies by making an appointment with a specialist today.
For over 30 years, the team at Charleston Allergy and Asthma has been helping Low Country residents breathe easier, feel better and live better. All the doctors are board certified Allergists who use the latest treatments available to manage all aspects of asthma and a full spectrum of allergies.
To request an appointment or learn more about services, visit charlestonallergy.com.