A new survey by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology of allergists/immunologists and school nurses showed that children with asthma and allergies often have reactions to triggers in the classroom. A survey of children with asthma and allergies conducted by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 41 percent of respondents said they had as many as three asthma attacks per month at school.

"Parents with children suffering from allergies or asthma should be concerned," said Michael Zacharisen, M.D., Fellow of the AAAAI. "Parents of allergic and asthmatic children need to take special steps to help prepare their child and their child's teachers for the new school year."

Asthma and allergies are among the most common, chronic conditions in the United States. Nearly five million children in the United States have asthma and millions more have allergic rhinitis, or hay fever. Children miss about two million school days each year because of allergy symptoms and 10 million school days because of asthma symptoms.

Triggers and Symptoms in the Classroom

Allergies and asthma can be triggered by allergens, ordinarily harmless substances like pollen, dust mites and mold spores. Allergens at school that can cause an allergic or asthmatic reaction include dust mites, chalk dust, animal dander from class pets or pet hair on student's clothing, exercise and pollen and molds.

Children with allergies may experience congestion, a runny nose or itchy, water eyes when they are exposed to the allergens to which they are sensitive. When children with asthma come in contact with their triggers, they may experience coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or chest tightness.

"The key to reducing the severity of symptoms a child experiences at school is avoidance," Zacharisen said. "Parents need to make school personnel aware of their child's asthma or allergy triggers so they can help the child avoid them."

Appropriate Treatment is Key

Allergy and asthma symptoms sparked by triggers in the classroom can interfere with participation in sports, school trips, physical education and play activities. Asthma and allergies can also interfere with a child's energy level, concentration, attention, peer relations, physical activities and cognitive functioning.

"If you or your child's teacher notices your child is having difficulty concentrating in school or isn't able to participate in physical activities, it may be a sign of improper treatment," Zacharisen said. "Children with well-controlled allergies and asthma can fully participate in all school activities. Just because a child has asthma or allergies doesn't mean they have to suffer with them."

Access to Medication at School

Students with asthma frequently have a sudden onset of symptoms from a variety of causes. In most cases, these asthma episodes can be prevented or treated by inhaled medications. For students to be able to function normally at school, it is critical that prescribed medications be available to them at all times during the school day.

It is the position of the AAAAI that children be allowed to carry their inhaled asthma medications with them at school. The AAAAI position statement says, "Students whose parents and physician judge that they have sufficient maturity to control the use of these inhaled medications should be allowed to retain these inhalers in their possession. School policies that require inhalers to be kept in school officials' or nurses' offices resulting in an interference in the medical needs of the patient and may seriously delay treatment."

Back To The Diagnostic Categories Download this Article
Go to Page 2