Summer: Time To Update Asthma Action Plan

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Summer is a time when many families have the chance to enjoy their children's time off from school with picnics, days at the pool and vacations. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services would also like families to use a little of that time updating their children's asthma action plans.

Health officials say the extra free time during summer is an excellent opportunity for parents to make an appointment with their children's health care provider to review asthma medication and treatment options.

"The number of asthma cases in children rises dramatically when kids go back to school," said Peggy Gaddy, the state health department's coordinator for the Asthma Prevention and Control Program. "We encourage families to make appointments now to evaluate their children's asthma action plans - before the school year starts again."

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Gaddy points out that asthma is the top reason why students miss school due to a chronic disease. The average child suffering from asthma misses an estimated eight days each school year because of the disease, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Gaddy said the change in environment, exposure to allergens brought in on fellow students' clothes and other factors contribute to the higher incidence of asthma during school days.

"It is easier to talk to a physician about how to approach their asthma treatment when a child is feeling well, as opposed to when that child is in the middle of an asthma attack," Gaddy said. "Talking to a doctor now will help children with asthma stay in school later."

Officials say the asthma action plan review can be done during normal well visits. However, even if the child has already had a well visit this year, most health insurance plans will cover an additional doctor's appointment since asthma is a chronic disease.

"We just want to raise the awareness of parents who might be altering their children's asthma treatments because of the summertime conditions. They really need to spend some time with their doctors and review those treatments and discuss treatments they will need when summer is over," Gaddy said. "With a little bit of effort and foresight this summer, we know we can help keep those kids in a productive learning environment when they go back to school this fall."

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