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How we avoid asthma triggers at school

Asthma triggers effects explanation all in one guide

Asthma triggers risk of exposure to triggers is another important consideration at day care or school. You may have done everything necessary to remove asthma triggers from your home, but your child spends six or more hours each day in school or day care. Take a look around that environment. In Kia’s old middle school building, triggers were easy to spot. But most schools—whether the building is new or old—contain a slew of asthma triggers: dust in carpeting or from chalk; class pets (those cute gerbils, hamsters, and rabbits); cockroaches; strong odors and chemicals used in science, art, or other classes and for cleaning the school; and smoke. Although smoking should be banned in schools, it still occurs.

Asthma triggers effects explanation all in one guide
Asthma triggers effects explanation all in one guide

As an individual parent, you can influence some positive changes if you discuss asthma triggers with school personnel. You can request that animals be removed from the classroom and moved elsewhere. If your child is bothered by chalk dust, he could be seated farther away from the blackboard. If he naps at day care or school, provide his own pillow with a protective covering. Suggest to the school principal that cockroaches are reduced by thorough cleaning, especially in the kitchen and cafeteria areas and through regular exterminating treatments and use of traps. Exterminating, cleaning with chemicals, or maintaining the grounds (mowing the grass or playing fields) should be done before or after school hours.

If you don’t want to stand out as a solitary critic, find other parents of children with Asthma triggers and approach school administrators as a small group to make these recommendations. At home, you work hard to keep your child’s asthma under control, so don’t hesitate to ask others to make a collective effort to protect all children with asthma from triggers at day care and school. Children shouldn’t miss school because of this disease. They should be able to pay attention to their schoolwork, participate in all activities, and rarely need to take quick-relief medicine if triggers are eliminated.


Jasmine was doing well when she was invited to sleep over at her friend Katelynn’s home. Jasmine’s mother didn’t know that Katelynn had a dog and a cat. At the time of the sleepover, Jasmine’s asthma was under good control. She was doing so well, in fact, that Asthma triggers.

her mom forgot to tell Katelynn’s parents about her asthma and her allergy to dogs and cats. Soon after arriving at Katelynn’s, Jasmine developed a stuffed up, runny nose and began sneezing. With three other children visiting for the evening, Katelynn’s mother didn’t think much about it. She noticed that Jasmine was sneezing quite a bit, but she knew that several school friends had been passing colds around that week.

During the night, Jasmine coughed and wheezed so much that she woke herself up. She knew she was starting to have an asthma flare and called home. Her dad came and picked her up in the middle of the night. As soon as they got home, they started her asthma management plan and she improved quickly. But it was an embarrassing lesson for Jasmine and a serious one for her parents. They decided that the next time she was invited to a party or a friend’s home, they would talk to the host family about possible triggers in their home. They would also give Jasmine medicine before going to the friend’s house, talk about possibly having the party at another location away from pets or other triggers, and would send medicine with a copy of her asthma management plan with her.

Children with asthma want to sleep over at friends’ homes just like other children. In general, parents have to decide if the environment will be okay for them. Children shouldn’t be in a position of feeling sick but too embarrassed to tell anyone — a recipe for a serious flare. Some general guidelines include:

  • The sleepover site should be “tobacco smoke free” and have no pets if your child is allergic to them.
  • It will probably not be dust free, but you can send along a sleeping pallet (something as simple as a thin blanket or plastic sheet) in addition to her sleeping bag to create a barrier between your child and the carpet.
  • Once you decide that she is allowed to sleep over, contact the adult in charge regardless of what your child says. Let your child know that this adult needs to be aware of how to help her if she starts having problems.
  • Talk to your child about possible activities that may happen at the sleepover (like pillow fights that would produce clouds of dust). Also talk about where she would feel comfortable taking her medicines and when would be the best time. Encourage her to be open with her friends about having Asthma triggers.
  • Make a pouch with her quick-relief medicines, her control medicines, and her asthma management plan.
  • If it’s her first time staying at a new place, take the time to review the plan with the adult in charge. As your child gets older, she should be able to take on more responsibility to the point where she can man-age her medicines independently. Let her know that ultimately the goal is for her to take control of her asthma and Asthma triggers.

Camp with asthma triggers

Dylan went to camp for the first time last summer. His parents did everything right. They organized all his medicines, sent an extra spacer, got him a special backpack to hold his medicines for day outings, and gave the camp nurse a copy of his asthma management plan. So what could possibly go wrong?

Dylan loved camp. He made new friends in his bunk, learned to swim, and showed no asthma symptoms or asthma triggers—until the third week of camp, when his group went horseback riding. Dylan excitedly climbed on his horse and within a few minutes his eyes started to itch and water. His nose got congested, and he started sneezing. An alert counselor took him back to the infirmary where the camp nurse treated his allergic reaction, gave him a dose of albuterol, and Dylan quickly improved. The nurse then called Dylan’s parents to notify them of his allergic reaction to the horse, report that he was fine again, and suggested that they have him evaluated by an allergists.

Everything worked smoothly for Dylan in this case, but his parents learned that they must make sure they know ahead of time how medical emergencies will be handled. If you’re planning to send your child today or overnight camp, ask about the camp’s policies and procedures for emergencies and what medical personnel will be available to handle them.

Whenever someone else is in charge of Asthma triggers

Common sense and planning are essential when children with asthma triggers go away from home without a parent. You need to communicate with anyone who will be taking care of your child. This includes relatives, baby-sitters, day care personnel, teachers, coaches, school nurses, friends’ parents, camp counselors, and other adults who will be responsible when you aren’t with your child. Keep in mind that many people don’t have an accurate understanding of asthma triggers. A lot of old myths about asthma are floating around that people still believe are true (common myths are listed in Resources).

Here is a basic list of what other adults need to know:

  • Names of your child’s medicine.
  • When to give them (daily and/or when symptoms occur).
  • How to give the medicine o What symptoms indicate a problem.
  • What to expect from the medicine (for example, they shouldn’t expect immediate relief from a long-term controller medicine but should from a quick-relief medicine).
  • What to do if the child doesn’t improve or gets worse after taking a quick-relief medicine.
  • Who to call in an emergency (parents’ work/cellular numbers, backup person if parents aren’t reachable, child’s physician, ambulance, nearest hospital.)

Much of the above will be listed in your child’s written asthma management plan, a copy of which should be given to those who are caring for your child with Asthma triggers.

If you don’t know the answers to all these points, sit down with your child’s physician or nurse practitioner and come up with a list together. Request prescriptions that you need now or in the near future, especially if you’re planning a trip. Do you need an extra spacer, inhaler, or nebulizer that will stay at day care, school, camp, or Grandma’s house? It’s just a matter of being prepared.

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