DENVER -- Most children associate summer with outdoor entertainment like swimming, camping and soccer. For children with asthma, however, summer can be a dangerous season. But parents can take several steps to help keep them safe. Creating an asthma action plan, with the assistance of the child’s doctor, can help ensure a safe, fun-filled summer. For those children who spend time at summer camp, a checklist of some asthma triggers can greatly assist the child’s counselors and make camp time more enjoyable. The trigger list might include sensitivities and allergens such as exercise, molds and pollens, perfumes and strong odors, trees and grasses, insect stings and animal dander.
Children who experience asthma symptoms require “pretreatment” (the use of a prescribed, inhaled medication) before any strenuous activities. “There are many professional and Olympic athletes who have asthma,” says Epi Mazzei, R.N., manager of LUNG LINE ® at National Jewish Medical and Research Center. “With treatment, they are extremely competitive and have even won gold medals. They haven’t let asthma stop them.”
Asthma is the leading chronic illness among children, according to the American Lung Association. Asthma affects nearly 5 million children and adolescents; each year, 5,000 children with asthma die.
Some symptoms of asthma are coughing, chest tightness and wheezing. For the vast majority of people who experience this condition, the use of a prescribed, inhaled medication prior to exercise is effective in preventing or lessening the symptoms. Children with asthma should be encouraged to exercise, so they can enjoy the importance of the self-esteem and confidence that comes from healthy, physical activity.
In addition to telling camp counselors a child has asthma, provide a written asthma action plan on how to treat the disease should it become an emergency. Your child’s doctor should write the asthma action plan, which typically includes the child’s asthma triggers, asthma early warning signs and what to do in an emergency.
“The biggest mistake that’s made is when children are sent to camp, and no one is told they have asthma,” explains Mazzei. “Make sure the camp nurse has a copy of the asthma action plan and you send the medications needed for emergency treatment.”
Parents should check with camp administrators on their policy of allowing children to keep medication with them. LUNG LINE recommends that every child with asthma have a “rescue” inhaler, which is used for quick relief of symptoms such as wheezing, coughing or chest tightness.
Parents, for more information on childhood asthma and asthma action plans, call LUNG LINE, 800-222-LUNG, or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Materials provided by National Jewish Medical And Research Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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