Asthma is the most common long-term medical condition in UK children. The prevalence of the condition in schools is an issue that needs to be tackled by both parents and school staff.
Parents of children in primary and secondary education should visit their child’s school to check for potential triggers that are obvious both in and out of the classroom; any obvious triggers should be discussed with the teacher.
School staff and parents should also learn what allergens can be found in schools. Here are six of the biggest causes of asthma attacks in school children:
1.) Mould or mildew
Indoor mould is an allergen that grows in damp areas where there is a high humidity. In schools, this can be especially widespread around swimming pools, activity mats and washrooms. Examine your child’s classroom for moisture and report any concerns to the head teacher.
2.) Dust and House Dust Mites
House Dust Mites are a common culprit of asthma attacks; the allergen is found in carpets and upholstered furniture. Encourage the senior staff in your school to use smooth surfaces and remove carpeting where possible so it can be wiped clean.
3.) Chemical Irritants
Chemical irritants can be found in some cleaners, adhesives, paints and air fresheners; these can make a child’s asthma worse. This can be avoided by limiting the use of these products when children are present and using sufficient ventilation.
4.) Animal Dander
Any furry animals can produce antigens that can be airborne. This famously triggers airway inflammation in people who are allergic. Animal dander can be brought in on other students’ clothing and transferred to upholstered furniture and carpets. Again, by removing fabricated surfaces where possible, asthma attacks can be avoided.
Exercise is a significant part of a healthy lifestyle for children, and should be encouraged. However, it can be a trigger for asthma attacks if the condition is not well managed. If there are any asthma symptoms prior to physical activity, do not make the child participate until they have been seen by a doctor.
6.) Hay Fever
Children with hay fever are at a higher risk of experiencing an asthma attack after coming into contact with the airborne allergen. Ensure that your child has updated permissions to take in their medication, such as antihistamines, to help prevent symptoms.
Childhood asthma can cause bothersome daily symptoms that interfere with their school performance. However, dangerous asthma attacks can be avoided by being aware of the major triggers found in a school.
For more information on asthma triggers and allergic asthma, take a look at Allergy UK's website here.