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School and Asthma

You probably have a routine for caring for your asthma at home. But at school, things might be a little different. 

It's still possible to mange your asthma — and help prevent flare-ups ("attacks") — when you're at school. All you need is a little preparation and planing.

How Can I Manage Asthma at School?

The best way to control asthma is to take the medicine your doctor prescribed as directed.

Here are some other ways to keep asthma symptoms under control:

  • Create an asthma action plan. Your doctor will work with you to create an asthma action plan that takes into account your school schedule and activities. The plan may include your medicines and when and how to take them, things to watch out for that can trigger an asthma flare-up, early signs of a flare-up, what to do if you have a flare-up, and when it's an emergency.
  • Make sure your school has a copy of your action plan. The school office and health office should both have copies of your plan. So should the athletic department if you play any sports. In some cases, you may want to discuss the plan with coaches or the school nurse.
  • Figure out the best way to follow your plan. Some schools let teens carry their medicines with them. Others want all medicines kept at the health office. The school nurse or your teacher may be able to suggest ways of fitting treatment into the school day.
  • Talk to your teachers, coaches, and friends. The more people who know about your asthma, the more help you'll have when you need it. For example, your homeroom teacher will understand your request to close the windows when the pollen count is high. Your gym teacher will know that you can't run outside in really cold weather. And by telling your friends, you may find you're not as alone as you thought — some of your classmates probably have asthma too. By talking about it, you might help them too.
  • Do the best you can to manage triggers. You don't control your school environment, so it can be tougher to manage triggers there. But there are a few things you can do:
    • If you have exercise-induced asthma, make sure you have access to your quick-relief medicine before and during gym class.
    • If chalk dust, smoke, pollen, or mold are a problem, let a teacher or the school nurse know. Exposure to these often can be reduced or eliminated.
    • If you get flare-ups because of stress, do your best to prepare for things like tests. Learning relaxation techniques, like breathing exercises, can help.
  • Assume you can play sports. Lots of elite athletes have asthma, from pro football players to Olympic gold medal winners. There's no reason you should have to skip sports, gym classes, and other physical activities. But you'll definitely want to talk with your doctor about playing sports so you'll know how to manage things.

How Can I Handle Flare-Ups?

Chances are, you won't be able to prevent every single flare-up. That means you always need to be prepared for one, especially at school. Always be able to get to your inhaler — either in your backpack or the health office. Use it whenever you need to.

If you feel a flare-up coming on, get the help you need. Don't ignore the flare-up or hope it will go away on its own. Take charge and you'll be breathing easier soon.

Reviewed by: Aledie A. Navas, MD
Date Reviewed: Oct 26, 2021

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