Asthma is among the most common chronic health conditions of childhood. Untreated asthma can make it difficult to play, learn, and grow. Warning signs include coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and tightness in the chest. An asthma trigger is anything that causes an asthma episode. Common triggers include allergies, illness, exercise, chemicals, and smoke. Consistent care of children with asthma at home and in the child care setting is critical to their wellbeing.

Asthma signs, triggers, and treatments vary for each child. Each child must have a personal asthma action plan. The child’s health care provider should complete it. The parent should sign it. This plan helps teachers/caregivers and families provide the specific care that the child needs. The plan identifies the child’s known triggers, medications and when/how to use them, and when to contact the child’s health care provider or take the child to the hospital.

Written instructions are not enough! Be prepared to use asthma medications correctly. For each child with asthma, seek direct instruction about the child’s needs from the child’s health care provider or from the program’s child care health consultant. Ask to speak with the health care provider’s nurse or office manager to arrange for in-person health professional instruction. Instruction should include use of any medical devices included in the asthma action plan such as an inhaler and spacer. The most effective use of inhaled mist requires use of a spacing device.

Good communication is essential to good care! Open dialogue between the teachers/caregivers and family is a priority. With parent consent, contact the child’s health care provider periodically to report observations of the child during the time the child is in the program. Before the health professional can discuss any patient, the child’s parent or legal guardian needs to complete an authorization for release of information. Use the Authorization for Release of Information form on the ECELS website or other permission form the health provider requires.  

To learn more about asthma and how to reduce allergens in your home, here are some tip sheets for parents and caregivers:

Learn more about best practice care of children who have asthma and are enrolled in early education settings! Complete the ECELS Asthma Webinar. Reviewed and reaffirmed 6/2021.