How to Know When to Send a Child With Asthma to School
Has this happened at your house? "Mom? Dad? I don’t feel good. I want to stay home from school."
And your reaction: "What, again?"
It’s hard to know when children should go to school and when they should stay home – and a health condition like asthma can make that decision even harder. Your child’s personalized Asthma Action Plan will identify symptoms to watch for and treatments to follow, but here are a few more tips:
Send your child to school with…
- A stuffy nose but no wheezing
- Peak flow meter readings at or near the target number after medication
- Enough energy and strength to participate in expected daily school activities
- No difficulty breathing
Keep your child home with…
- Evidence of infection, sore throat or swollen, painful neck glands
- A fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit; face hot and flushed
- Peak flow meter readings that are not near the target number after medication
- Wheezing that continues to be labored 30 minutes after medication
- Weakness or tiredness that makes it hard to take part in usual daily activities
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath when speaking
Call 911 if you think it’s an emergency.
If your child is missing a lot of school due to asthma, talk to your school nurse and health care provider. If you don’t have a written, personalized Asthma Action Plan – or if it’s not working and you child is experiencing frequent flares – you may need to seek the help of a board-certified allergist or asthma specialist.
It may also help to look at the home or school environments for allergens or irritants that make it harder for your child to breathe.
Children with asthma should be able to attend school regularly.
Purvi Parikh, MD, is an allergist and immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network, the leading nonprofit patient education organization for people with allergies, asthma and related conditions. She practices in New York City at Allergy and Asthma Associates of Murray Hill and New York University School of Medicine. She sits on the Board of Directors for the advocacy council of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI).