Back To School: How To Deal With Asthma Attacks

Kids heading back to school can be a tough adjustment for parents. It can be an especially troublesome experience for parents of children with asthma.

“What happens if my daughter has an asthma attack and isn’t carrying her inhaler?”

“Will my son’s new teacher know what to do if he has an asthma attack during class?”

These are questions that parents of children with asthma find themselves asking each year.

And while it’s perfectly normal to worry about your children’s health, taking a few precautions as class gets back in session should help you stay on top of things and alleviate some of your worry as a parent of a child with asthma.

Children need to…

  • carry their emergency inhaler (albuterol) on them at all times, especially at school. This is one of the most important things to remember. Last year, Texas law made it legal for children to carry asthma-related medicine with them while at school (with a physician’s note). Usually, school nurses are in charge of holding onto and giving children’s medicine, but for kids with asthma, they can and should carry their rescue medication with them during the school day.
  • use their albuterol inhaler 15-20 minutes before recess if they are an exercise-induced asthmatic. Ask your pediatrician if your son or daughter happens to fall in this subset of asthmatics.
  • keep their medication to themselves. Under no circumstances should they share their medication with their friends or classmates.

Parents need to…

  • communicate with the teacher and school nurse about their child’s conditions before the school year even starts. This is child-asthmacommonly done when filling out forms during class registration. Speaking face-to-face with a teacher about your child’s asthma is a good way to make sure everyone knows the situation.
  • teach their child to be aware of the fact that they have asthma. If a child is old enough to communicate, they are old enough to know they have asthma and should be able to recognize symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath). This can be taught from an early age through discussions with your pediatrician.

Teachers need to…

  • review their class rosters and be aware of any asthmatic students in their classroom. A little background research on the teacher’s part can prevent hesitation or panic during an asthma attack.
  • recognize symptoms of a child’s asthma. It’s not always shortness of breath or wheezing out loud; constant coughing can be a symptom. Some kids can get so tight that they don’t have enough air to move to cause wheezing. Again, discussions with the parent of an asthmatic child are important.
  • stay calm. Children take cues from how adults react. Even if children don’t have their rescue inhaler, stay calm, sit them down, and get them into a comfortable environment. Call 911 if the child continues to have trouble breathing.

Asthma attacks at school can be scary, but they don’t have to be.

When parents, children and teachers are all educated and aware, an asthma attack at school becomes more manageable.

Has your child ever had an asthma attack at school? What happened?


About Dr. Stan Spinner, Texas Children's Pediatrics and Texas Children's Urgent Care Chief Medical Officer

I've been practicing pediatrics in Houston for 30 years. Formerly in practice at Texas Children's Pediatrics Town & Country at West Campus and I am the Texas Children's Pediatrics and Texas Children's Urgent Care Chief Medical Officer.

Posted in Allergies, Parenting, School, Texas Children's Pediatrics

2 Responses to Back To School: How To Deal With Asthma Attacks

  1. Multi organ transplant Hospital says:

    Hello Dr. Stanley Spinner! You have mentioned some important precautions to be taken by the children suffering from asthma attacks in very impressive manner. This post gives very good idea to the parents having asthma children and their teachers about the basic care to be taken towards those children. It is really very useful post.

  2. Bianca says:

    There was one incident that my kid went to school and forgot to bring her rescue controller. After her PE class she had an attack. Good thing her PE teacher knows about it and had helped her go through it the entire time. They told me that the teacher remained calm the entire time which made me very thankful of him.


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