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How safe is your home for your child with asthma? »

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Knowing which asthma triggers are at work in your home and eliminating or minimizing them will help you create the best environment for your child. To maintain a healthy indoor environment for your asthmatic, do some of the following:

• Don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home. If you smoke, quit or smoke outside of the home while wearing a smoking jacket. Remove the smoking jacket before entering the home and leave it outside.

• Avoid using a fireplace or wood-burning stove.

• Do not have live house plants. They produce mold and fungus.

• Remove all carpeting and rugs or wash them weekly.

• Use a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter for your A/C unit and change it regularly.

• Vacuum and dust your home at least once a week.

• Avoid heavy curtains (use window shades).

• Cover pillows and mattresses with dust mite proof covers.

• Keep your child’s collection of stuffed animals to a minimum. Stuff animals are a perfect haven for dust mites. Stuffed animals should be washed weekly or sealed in a plastic bag and placed in the freezer for a minimum of 5 hours (dust mites can’t survive more than 5 hours of freezing temperatures).

• Avoid using a humidifier in your child’s room.

• Reduce mold and moisture by fixing leaky pipes, faucets or roofs. Also, make sure bathrooms and basements are well ventilated.

• Wash shower curtains monthly.

• Avoid laundry detergents with strong aromas.

• Avoid hair spray, perfume, or talcum powder.

• Keep pets outdoors, if possible. If not possible, keep them out of your child’s bedroom and off of living room furniture.

• Avoid pests by having home professionally exterminated every few months and avoid leaving food or dirty dishes lying around your kitchen.

• Avoid using plug-ins, scented candles, and incense.

Your child’s doctor can help you identify which triggers may affect your child’s asthma.

 

Christopher P. Christie, MPH, CRT, AE-C

 

 

 

Tips for Parents: Asthma Management in Schools »

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According to the Centers for Disease and Control, asthma is the leading cause of chronic illness among children and adolescents in the United States. Asthma is also the #1 reason children miss school and as a result, the #1 reason parents miss work. Below are a few suggestions for effectively managing your child’s asthma in school:

1. Develop an asthma management plan with your child’s physician

2. Complete all school health forms in a timely manner

3. Familiarize yourself with your child’s asthma symptoms and triggers

4. Communicate your child’s needs and share their asthma management   

     plan with school staff, including the school nurse

5. Provide emergency contact numbers for you and your child’s doctor to

     your child’s school

6. Make sure you know the right amount of medicine your child needs to

     take each day to control their asthma

7. Provide your child’s school with the proper medication needed to control

     their asthma

8. Update your child’s asthma condition as needed

9. Attend the FREE asthma education workshop for parents offered twice a

     month by the Community Asthma Partnership-Wolfson’s (CAP-W)

     through The Players Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children’s

     Hospital. Call 202–5132 to register or for more information.

Ask your child’s school if they are Asthma-friendly. Asthma-friendly schools (AFS) are those that make an effort to ensure that there is a safe and supportive learning environment for students with asthma.

Christopher P. Christie, MPH, CRT, AE-C

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). Retrieved  from:http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/asthma/index.htm

Asthma in the Classroom – What Does it Look Like? »

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Teachers are aware of so many needs in their classrooms; learning needs, social needs and even medical needs. But, what does asthma in the classroom look like? Chances are it doesn’t look like a child barely being able to breathe, gasping and struggling to take their next breath; it is usually more subtle than that. Here’s a look at the different types of asthma a teacher may see in their classroom:

Students with Well Controlled Asthma:

These children are the ones that look like everybody else, they don’t miss school due to asthma, they don’t need to go to the nurse to use their inhalers, and they are able to fully participate in all school activities. These children most likely have an intermittent form of asthma that is triggered by seasonal allergies, a virus or a certain known trigger. They also may have exercise-induced asthma. Here are some clinical indications:

• Symptoms
Less than 2 days a week but not more than once on each day

• Sleep disruptions
Less than once a month

• Full participation in a variety of activities, including sports and play

• Use of inhaler for symptom control
Less than 2 days a week

• Lung function
Greater than 80% of predicted or personal best

Students with Not Well Controlled Asthma:

These children may struggle with control of their asthma. They may miss the occasional school day related to their asthma; they may visit the nurse’s office more often and need their inhaler more frequently. These children may not be able to fully participate in physical activities without difficulty and may appear to shy away from activities so they do not have an asthma attack. Be sure to encourage the child to tell an adult when they are having difficulty breathing, allow them to visit the nurse for their inhaler and remind them to remain clam during the attack. Here are some clinical indications:

• Symptoms
More than twice a day

• Sleep disruptions
More than twice a month

• Limited participation in activities, including sports and play

• Use of inhaler for symptom control
More than 2 days a week

• Lung function
60% to 80% of predicted or personal best

Students with Poorly Controlled Asthma:

These are the children that are visibly struggling with asthma on a daily basis; they miss many school days related to their asthma and spend many days in the nurse’s office trying to regain control of their asthma. These children often look very tired and may seem as if they are not paying attention when in fact they are just so tired from being up all night with asthma symptoms that they cannot focus on their school work. These children will not engage in any school activities for fear of an asthma attack. These children should be referred to a specialist for greater management of their asthma symptoms and should have an asthma action plan on file with the nurse. Here are some clinical indications:

• Symptoms
Throughout the day

• Sleep disruptions
More than twice a week

• Extremely limited participation in a variety of activities, including sports and play

• Use of inhaler for symptom control
Several times a day

• Lung function
Less than 60% of predicted or personal best

What to do in the Event of an Asthma Attack:

1. Remain calm and encourage slow breathing

2. Follow the child’s Asthma Action Plan (AAP) for mediation administration

3. Notify the parents

4. Call 911 if medication is not relieving symptoms or child does not have an AAP or quick relief inhaler!

All teachers and staff should be aware of the children with any form of asthma and should be aware of what the procedure is for taking care of a child that is having an asthma attack. Knowing what to do in the event of an asthma emergency could be the difference between life and death for your student!

Louisa Gallagher RN, AE-C

Bye-Bye Summer…Hello Flu? »

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The carefree days of summer are officially over and cooler fall weather is on the horizon (thank goodness!) but, that means two things: jackets and colds!  It’s the time of year where our children not only bring stacks of school papers home but also the occasional cold they received from a friend! 

 

Early autumn is the perfect time to make an appointment for their annual flu vaccine.  Protecting your asthmatic child this flu season will go a long way in decreasing the number of asthma attacks they have and number of missed school days.   Most doctors’ offices now have the first rounds of the vaccine available for those most at risk…the very young, the old and the immunocompromised. 

 

So go ahead, make your appointment and enjoy all that fall has to offer with your children; apples, falling leaves, Halloween and hopefully cooler temperatures…sooner rather than later!

 

Louisa Gallagher RN, AE-C

Getting Ready for an Asthma Friendly School Year »

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Wow!  How quickly time flies, it seems like just yesterday we were talking about getting ready for camp and now the new school year is upon us and that means exposure to all the triggers that surround our children at school…here are a few tips to help your child have an asthma friendly school year!

 

  1. Have your pediatrician complete an Asthma Action Treatment Plan and provide a copy of that plan to the school or daycare center.  Print an Asthma Action Treatment Plan here:  http://www.communityasthmajax.org/healthcare/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Asthma-Action-Plan_092110.pdf       

  2. Plan a meeting with school staff before or in the beginning weeks of the school year. It is helpful to have the school nurse, health aide, teacher, and physical education teacher at the meeting. Your child also can be involved in the meeting. Take the written Asthma Action Treatment Plan to the meeting. Review the Asthma Action Treatment Plan, medicines and things that make your child’s asthma worse.        

  3. Provide the school or daycare center with a quick-relief inhaler or allow your child to carry the inhaler in their backpack per the Florida State Statue Title XVI, 232.47.        

  4. If your child is showing warning signs (coughing, wheezing, sneezing, runny nose, shortness of breath, ect) and they do not respond to the quick-relief inhaler, keep your child at home and follow the sick portion of the action plan to bring these symptoms under control.        

  5. If your school offers an asthma education program, enroll your child so that he/she becomes knowledgeable about their asthma.        

  6. Make sure your child uses his/her quick relief inhaler (pre-medicates) for gym class or other physical activities, especially outdoors in cold weather.         

Using these tips can help your child have a positive start to the school year, allow them to participate in all the activities that the school offers and decrease missed school days. 

 

Have a wonderful 2011/2012 school year!

 

Louisa Gallagher RN, AE-C

Preparing Your Asthmatic Child for Summer Camp »

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It’s summer time and that means fun, sun and camp! 

Sending your child away to summer camp can be really difficult, especially for the parents but, it may be particularly hard for the parents of asthmatic children.  The worries can be numerous; will their asthma flare up?  What triggers are lurking?  Who will help them if they have an asthma attack? Will they know what to do?  These concerns are valid but, if you follow these recommendations, you can feel better about sending them to camp and allow your child to make memories that will last a lifetime!

  1. Find out who is responsible for medical care at the camp:           
    - Is there a nurse or physician on staff? 
    - Are they available 24 hours a day?
    - Does the staff have asthma training?   
    - Who will be administering medications and are they medically trained to do so?
  2. Plan a meeting with the camp medical staff prior to the first day of camp to discuss:
    - Your child’s triggers
    - Your child’s asthma symptoms
    - Using a peak flow meter daily and what is your child’s personal best reading is
    - Actions to take when your child has symptoms or the peak flow reading is in the  yellow or red zone
    - Use of their MDI and spacer
    - Allowing your child to keep his/her inhaler with them and if not, where will it  stored so it can be retrieved quickly
  3. Provide your child’s asthma action plan and discuss it with the health care provider.
  4. Provide and label all necessary medications and equipment for the entire camp stay.
  5. Talk to the health care provider during the camp stay to see how your child is doing and how the action plan is working.

Communication is key and the earlier you talk with the camp leaders the better you will feel about letting your child go to camp! 

Also, start packing and involve your child in the process,  if you organize everything ahead of time, you will decrease your stress level and ensure your child is ready to go! 

Listed below are some guidelines about what to pack:

  • Send all medications and medical devices if needed (be sure to let the camp know of ANY allergies, chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes) and how the medications are to be administered. 
  • Provide an Asthma Action Plan if your child has asthma!
  • Your child will need about two outfits for each day at camp. Add extra socks and underwear.
  • Send practical, durable and washable comfortable clothing.
  • If your child wears eyeglasses, consider sending a second pair. Also pack sports safety eyeglasses.
  • If your child wears braces, don’t forget rubber bands, retainer, etc.

 

IDENTIFY EVERYTHING with your child’s name!  Use fabric pens or labels to mark each item with your child’s name.

Make a list of what you send.  Tape one copy to the inside lid of the suitcase or tuck it in a pocket of the duffel bag and keep one copy at home.  This will help your child when they are packing to come home.  It will also help you when unpacking to know if there are any items missing and if your kids are like mine…there will be missing items!!

Sappy mom tip: tuck little notes into their clothing.  They’ll be delighted to “hear” from you as they unpack.

Be sure to pack the following items:

  • Address book (with names and addresses from home, as well as blank spaces for new names)
  • Stationary, pens, stamps, and some pre-addressed, stamped postcards
  • Autograph book
  • Books
  • Comfort item (stuffed animal, favorite pillow case, picture of a pet)
  • Travel-sized games
  • Deck of cards
  • Disposable camera
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Insect repellent (lotion – no spray)
  • Light jacket or heavy sweater
  • Long and short sleeved shirts
  • Long pants (2 pairs)
  • Rain Poncho
  • Shoes (2 pairs)
  • Shorts (4 to 5 pairs)
  • Pajamas
  • Socks
  • Hat
  • Underwear
  • Swimsuits
  • Pillow
  • Laundry bag
  • Sleeping bag
  • Soap in a box
  • Toothbrush & tooth paste
  • Deodorant
  • Lip balm
  • Sunglasses
  • Towels and washcloths – not too thick….they take forever to dry!
  • Waterproof sunscreen
  • Wet wipes/antibacterial gel
  • Spending money

Enjoy your summer and stay safe!!

Louisa Gallagher, RN, AE-C

Reduce School Environment Asthma Triggers »

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When asthma is well controlled, students are ready to learn. Effectively managing a child’s asthma is best accomplished through a comprehensive plan that addresses both the medical management of the disease and the avoidance of environmental triggers.

Classrooms often adopt animals as classroom pets or science projects. Any warm-blooded animals, including gerbils, birds, cats, dogs, mice and rats, may trigger asthma. Proteins, which act as allergens in the dander, urine or saliva of warm-blooded animals, can cause allergic reactions or trigger asthma episodes in people sensitive to animal allergens.

The most common sources of animal allergens in schools are in the air and on the clothing of staff and children who handle pets. If an animal is present in the school, there is a possibility of direct, daily exposure to the animal’s dander and bodily fluids. It is important to realize that, even after extensive cleaning, pet allergens may stay in the indoor environment for several months after the animal is removed. In addition, animal allergens can readily migrate to other areas of the school environment through the air and on the clothing of staff and children who handle pets.

Ask your child’s teacher to discuss any classroom animals with you before exposing your child. The most effective method to control exposure to animal allergens in schools is to keep your school free of warm-blooded animals.

Stay tuned and check back often as we bring you more ways to reduce and or avoid environmental asthma triggers.

Springtime At School »

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Springtime Is Here: Teachers, Are You Ready?

The cold, dreary weather is just a memory and springtime is finally here; the grass is green, the flowers and trees are in full bloom and your students are so happy to go outside and enjoy the wonderful Florida weather at recess…but wait, is there a danger lurking out there?

Springtime brings a plethora of tree and grass pollens, which are typically small and light, enabling them to be airborne for long periods.  Airborne particles (triggers) are easily inhaled, causing irritation to the upper and lower respiratory tracts.  Exposure to these triggers increases the likelihood that an asthmatic student could have an asthma attack at school.

Pollen counts are highest in the morning and evening hours, the counts are affected by the local weather conditions: lower on rainy days and higher on hot humid days.  Most pollen sensitive individuals start having symptoms when pollen counts are greater that 50-grain/ m3 (check Jacksonville’s pollen count).  Be aware that tree pollens peak in April and May, while grass pollens are highest from May through August.  Weed pollens are at their highest in the fall months.

Grass is the largest contributor of pollen; it is everywhere and because it has cross reactivity, if you are allergic to one type of grass you are probably allergic to all grasses!  Bermuda grass is the exception and does not show this cross reactivity with other grasses.

If you are a teacher with an asthmatic student(s) then you must be aware of the triggers that are lingering outdoors at recess.  Fresh cut grass, blooming trees and flowers are all potential triggers that may compromise the health of your student(s).  The tips below will help you manage asthma flare-ups and ensure you are doing everything possible to make springtime fun and safe for your students!

Seasonal Asthma Tips:

• Know which students in your class have asthma!

• Have access and be familiar with your student’s written action plans – be prepared to put it into action!

• Know asthma warning signs:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain/tightness
  • Rapid breathing

• Know the outdoor air quality by checking:

http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_city&cityid=7

Also, check pollen counts:

http://www.weather.com/outlook/health/allergies/weather/USFL0228

• Keeping children inside during high pollen counts and orange or red zone days.

• Be prepared to respond to asthma related emergencies.

• Never leave a child alone during an asthma attack.

• Call 911 in the event of an emergency.

Click here for additional classroom tips

Click here for additional tips for managing an asthma attack

Pinedale Elementary Achieves “Asthma-Friendly School” Status »

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Pinedale Elementary, where nearly 15 percent of the students have asthma, recently became an “Asthma-Friendly School.” To achieve this recognition, CAPW asthma educators worked with administrators, staff, teachers, parents and students to create awareness about the disease, as well as how to manage the condition at school. In addition to age-appropriate Asthma Action training and workbooks, CAPW provided take-home items such as equipment to measure lung capacity and pillow encasings to reduce common asthma triggers in the home. As part of the program, CAPW also offered assistance with medication and primary medical care if needed.

While much work remains to be done to reduce the number of hospital visits due to asthma-related complications, Pinedale has seen encouraging progress. Absences related to asthma were reduced by more than 22 percent for the children who participated in CAPW’s Asthma Action program, and more schools have signed up to become “asthma-friendly” in 2010 and 2011.

Impromptu Asthma Education »

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During an asthma education presentation for the faculty at a local elementary school, Billy, age nine, went to one of the asthma educators to tell her about his asthma.

Through the course of the conversation, the asthma educator discovered that Billy had not been involved in the asthma classes for the students, he did not have a spacer, nor did he know how to properly use his inhaler.

In an impromptu meeting, Billy was given a spacer and instructed on its proper use. His mother was in attendance and the two agreed that they would continue to practice the skill at home in order to help keep Billy’s asthma under control.

CAPW is here to help you.

For more information, call us any weekday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 904.202.5132 or send us an email or get updates