Anyone who takes care of your child, including school staff, coaches and babysitters, should know your child has asthma and have a copy of the asthma action plan. Show them how to use your child’s inhaler and other medications.
A child’s asthma action plan should go wherever they go. Keep a copy at home — maybe on the refrigerator — and copies at school with teachers and the school nurse and anyone else who cares for the child.
This information ensures they have what they need in case your child has an asthma attack.
Review your child’s asthma action plan every six months to keep it current and allow for updates.
Asthma action plans are organized with the colors of a traffic light to help you and others understand which medicines, dosage amounts and actions to take based on symptoms:
- Green: This stage is for minimal or no symptoms. Your child should take their controller medicine as prescribed.
- Yellow: This is a caution stage, a heightened level of the green stage. This stage is for times when your child is exposed to an asthma trigger or has the first signs of a cold or respiratory infection, such as wheezing, a tight chest or coughing at night. This stage includes controller medicines and a rescue medicine, commonly albuterol, as instructed by your asthma specialist.
- Red: This is considered a “danger” stage, when asthma worsens quickly. In this stage, medicines may not be working, your child may be breathing hard and fast, and may have trouble speaking. This stage is when your child needs immediate medical attention from your doctor. You should phone your asthma specialist on call, who will give you instructions for immediate action.
School nurses or staff cannot give children rescue medications without an asthma action plan on file. Scheduling an appointment with your child’s pediatric pulmonologist before the school year starts is a good time to update the asthma action plan.
Talk with your child’s teacher, the school nurse and other school staff, such as bus drivers, coaches or physical education instructors about your child’s asthma triggers and symptoms and their action plan. Doing this is important for helping your child manage their condition while at school. If staff can help limit your child’s exposure to triggers, it can help prevent asthma events.
Other things parents and guardians can do:
- Provide an unopened inhaler and spacer to your child’s school.
- Help your child understand when to go to a teacher or staff about their condition. Children may be timid about asking for help; empowering them can help them be more confident if they need help.
- If your child has issues participating in activities, talk to your child’s pulmonologist.