“That’s just one reason why it’s so important for kids to understand asthma and know what to do if they experience symptoms themselves or see another child having an attack,” says FMH Certified Asthma Educator Cherie Hyssong.
Hyssong visits hundreds of students at schools across Frederick County each year to bring them Asthma 101, a program supported by the American Lung Association. The program teaches children and school staff about the detection, treatment and control of asthma.
In addition to increasing asthma awareness for students who have the chronic disease, Asthma 101 also teaches their classmates about the symptoms they can watch for in their friends and classmates to prevent or ease an attack.
“We encourage students to be aware if they or another student are having trouble breathing or can’t stop coughing,” Hyssong says. “The next step is to tell a parent or a responsible adult.”
Asthma symptoms vary from person to person and can change over time, but the most common signs are shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing, or wheezing.
Students who have asthma are always encouraged to live normal, active lifestyles. When asthma is controlled, they can do anything their friends and classmates can do.
“As early as age five, kids can be an active part of their own asthma management,” Hyssong says.
Even at that young age, children can be on the lookout for irritants, allergens and other situations or items that can trigger an attack. Again, these triggers are different from person to person, but some of the most common include:
- Infections or colds
- Allergens (animals, bugs, mold, pollen, foods)
- Irritants (dust, strong odors, cold air)
- Emotions (crying or laughing)
“Our primary goal is to keep kids with asthma safe, no matter where they are,” Hyssong says. “But we also know establishing a supportive learning environment also helps reduce school absences for students coping with this condition.”