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Ensure that students with asthma have convenient access to their medications

Many students with asthma require two different medications: one for daily control and prevention, the other to treat and relieve symptoms. These medications are usually taken by metered-dose inhaler. Preventive asthma medications are taken daily and usually can be scheduled for before and after school hours. However, some students may need to take preventive daily medication during school hours. All students with asthma need to have their medication that relieves symptoms available at school in case of unexpected exposure to asthma triggers, or an asthma episode. In addition, students with asthma often benefit from using their inhaled medication 5-10 minutes before exercise to prevent exercise induced bronchospasm. If accessing the medication is difficult, inconvenient, or embarrassing, the student may be discouraged and fail to use the inhaler as needed. The student's asthma may become unnecessarily worse and his or her activities needlessly limited.

Actions to Consider

  • Provide students with asthma convenient access to their medications for all on- and off-site activities before, during and after school. These medications prevent as well as treat symptoms and enable the student to participate safely and vigorously in physical activities.
  • Enable students to carry and administer their own medications if the parent/guardian, health care provider, and school nurse so advise.

Modify physical activities to match current asthma status

Students who follow their asthma management plans and keep their asthma under control can usually participate vigorously in the full range of sports and physical activities. Activities that are more intense and sustained--such as long periods of running, basketball, and soccer - are more likely to provoke asthma symptoms or an asthma episode. However, Olympic medalists with serious asthma have demonstrated that these activities are possible with good asthma management.

Actions to Consider

  • Include adequate warm-up and cool-down periods. These help prevent or lessen episodes of exercise induced asthma.
  • Consult the student's asthma management plan, parent/guardian, or health care provider on the type and length of any limitations. Assess the student and school resources to determine how the student can participate most fully.
  • Remember that a student who experiences symptoms or who has just recovered from an asthma episode is at even greater risk for additional asthma problems. Take extra care. Observe for asthma symptoms, and check the student's peak flow if he or she uses a peak flow meter. Review the student's asthma management plan if there are any questions.
  • Monitor the environment for potential allergens and irritants, for example, a recently mowed field or refinished gym floor. If an allergen or irritant is present, consider a temporary change in location.
  • Make exercise modifications as necessary to get appropriate levels of participation. For example, if running is scheduled, the student could walk the whole distance, run part of the distance, alternate running and walking.
  • Keep the student involved when any temporary but major modification is required. Ask the student to act, for example, as a scorekeeper, timer, or equipment handler until he or she can return to full participation. Dressing for a physical education class and participating at any level is better than being left out or left behind.

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Ensure That Students With Asthma Have Convenient Access to Their Medications
Modify Physical Activities To Match Current Asthma Status

Last edited 22-08-2010