According to an Excellus BlueCross BlueShield review of public health records, there is a dramatic rise in the number of asthma flare-ups from late August to the end of September.
Sydney Sargent is a school nurse at Lincoln Middle School. She says the beginning of the year is always a busy time, from getting students up to date on immunizations, the physicals they need and sorting through paperwork.
“And we’re just meeting students who are new to school, getting medications all set up to be passed out during the school day,” Sargent said.
Sargent says the best way they can support students with asthma is to be proactive.
“Have an asthma action plan in place with the school nurse,” she said. “Make sure they have up-to-date medication that is not expired in school with a doctor’s order and parental consent to go along with that.”
Immunizations like the flu vaccine can be vital for children with asthma. Dr. Nicholas Massa, vice president of medical affairs for Excellus Bluecross Blueshield says it adds another layer of protection.
“We’re all at risk for developing flu but folks with respiratory illnesses oftentimes are at increased risk of having a more severe case of the flu and more likely to develop complications from it,” Massa said.
Sargent says health education plays a major role in being a school nurse.
“We’ll talk to families directly, I’ll give them a phone call to explain things,” Sargent said. “We talk a lot about immunizations, keeping up-to-date physicals.”
Knowing what can trigger children’s asthma is important.
“Common things that have the potential to trigger asthma include cold viruses, respiratory infections, sudden change in temperature, humidity, again certain pollens and molds and exercise with some children,” Massa said.
Sargent says with parent’s consent they can have an open line of communication with teachers to monitor those triggers.
“Teachers know to keep a look out for shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, any student that’s complaining of chest tightness, those are all immediate health office visits,” Sargent said.
It’s a collaborative effort to ensure students are well taken care of when they are away from home.