Back to School—Managing medical issues

 

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Back to School—Managing medical issues

August 13, 2015

 

It’s that time of year again.  Summer vacation seems so short.  There is so much to do:  buying supplies, packing lunches, making sure the homework gets done. . .the list doesn’t seem to end.

 

And yet, there’s one more thing to add to your growing list of things to do.  Making sure the school is prepared to handle your child’s medical problems.

 

After all, the school has your child in its care for seven hours (more if your child is in aftercare) of the day.  That’s about half of your child’s waking hours!

 

So, talk to your doctor and go over the following questions

 

- What emergency medicine do I need to provide to the school?

- Does this emergency medicine need to be provided to the school nurse or the classroom teacher?

- Does the school nurse or teacher have the training to feel comfortable administering this medication?

- Does the school have the appropriate forms?

 

For allergic conditions, the most common issues when children go back to school include Asthma, Food Allergy, and Insect Sting Allergy. 

 

Children with these problems have very different and specific needs. 

 

Of these issues, the one I most commonly see is that of Exercise Induced Asthma, also known as EIA.

 

Nancy Hogshead, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Bill Koch, Greg Lougainis, Dominique Wilkins, Jim Ryun—these are all famous athletes with Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA).

 

Think of these people and you will know that EIA doesn’t have to stop anyone from being a good athlete or living a normal life.

 

The symptoms of EIA are coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or chest tightness with exercise or an inability to keep up with one’s peers.

 

EIA is quite common.  It occurs in most asthmatics (18 million Americans) and in

13% of the non-asthmatic population

 

EIA can be worsened by cold, dry air, mouth-breathing, air pollutants, high pollen counts,  and viral respiratory tract infections.

 

 

EIA may be diagnosed when your doctor performs a thorough history and physical exam to obtain the pertinent findings.  Sometimes a  breathing test at rest is required to ensure that the patient does not have chronic asthma. Also, an exercise challenge study is occasionally performed to clarify the diagnosis.

 

EIA does not need to limit your physical activities.  As we noted before, many competitive athletes have asthma.  Some activities may be more problematic than others but with the proper training and medications, many of these problems may be overcome. 

 

Team sports that require short bursts of energy, such as baseball, football, wrestling, golfing, gymnastics, short-term track and field events or surfing are less likely to trigger asthma than sports requiring continuous activity such as soccer, basketball, field hockey or long-distance running.

 

If you don’t have a particular sport in mind, consider swimming, walking, leisure biking, hiking and free downhill skiing. 

 

Since cold, dry air can make EIA worse, you may want to adjust your exercise in winter.  In cold weather, wear a scarf over the nose and mouth to warm and moisten air.

 

A short-acting inhaler used 15 minutes before exercise is often the best choice at first.  If this is not adequate, speak with your physician about other options. Athletes should restrict exercising when they have viral infections, when temperatures are extremely low, or - if they are allergic - when pollen and air pollution levels are high.

 

 

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