Lung Association shares tips to build community of asthma advocates
Controlling even the most severe asthma is possible with the right treatment and management plan in place, as well as a trained support network. The responsibility for caring for a child with asthma shouldn’t fall on the family or child alone; that’s why the American Lung Association has developed free educational tools to help build a community of support for children with asthma.
“The safety net for a child with asthma shouldn’t end when they step away from their parents. It takes a village to raise a child, and we strongly believe that it takes a community to support every child with asthma,” said Albert Rizzo, MD, senior medical advisor to the American Lung Association. “We need to educate our communities, from school administrators, teachers and nurses to soccer coaches, music teachers and peers, because while not everyone suffers from asthma, anyone can save a life.”
In 2010, for example, asthma attacks resulted in 2.1 million emergency room visits. Asthma attacks like these take the lives of several thousand Americans each year. However, asthma is an extremely manageable condition, and also common with nearly 7 million children experiencing asthma symptoms.
“Build a support network by encouraging family and friends to become asthma advocates for your child, so they will be prepared to respond in case of an emergency,” said Rizzo. “Asthma episodes can be terrifying, so it’s important to have training in advance so that you and those with your child are prepared to respond.”
Rizzo recommends the free, online learning module from the American Lung Association, Asthma Basics, which teaches people with asthma and caregivers including school personnel how to recognize and manage asthma triggers, as well as how to respond to a breathing emergency.
We also think it’s important to empower children to learn about their asthma triggers, symptoms and medicines so they can better manage their own disease, be active and healthy. Children, even elementary-aged, can learn the skills to manage their asthma and the steps to use asthma medication correctly.
To tell if a child is prepared to self-carry a quick-relief inhaler, the Lung Association offers the Student Readiness Assessment Tool, which parents can use and share with a school nurse or healthcare provider.
To help ensure that students with asthma have immediate access to quick relief medication, schools should consider stocking quick-relief medicine through standing orders. Check to see if your school has a Stock Bronchodilator (Quick-Relief Medication) Policy in place, and if not, encourage them to do so by sharing this model policy. Rizzo also recommends getting to know your school nurse and speaking to them about your child’s asthma management plan.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.