Preventing Asthma Flare-Ups at School

This content has been clinically reviewed by Ann-Marie Brooks, M.D. 

Each year, all across the country, kids miss more than 13 million days of school thanks to the coughing, wheezing and trouble breathing that comes with asthma, a condition that causes the tubes in the lungs to swell and narrow, constricting the flow of breath. In Georgia alone, more than one in eight children suffers.

The back-to-school months of September and October are the most popular for emergency room visits related to asthma, thanks to triggers such as seasonal ragweed and other allergens, back-to-school stress, after-school sports and activities and an increase in exposure to germs from other kids.

As your child continues to navigate their way through the academic year, consider these pediatrician-approved tips for preventing asthma flare-ups at school.

Come up with an action plan

Work with your child’s physician to come up with an asthma action plan should a flare-up occur, and share that plan with your child’s teachers, coaches and nurses. Include a list of medication and supplies, your child’s specific triggers, their common symptoms when having an attack, emergency contact information and what to do should they have an attack.

Talk to your child’s teacher about making the classroom more “asthma-friendly”

Keep classrooms free of pets, heavy dust, aerosol sprays and heavy odors from perfumes or colognes.

Talk to you child about what to do

Asthma attacks can cause a child to panic, especially if they aren’t clear on what to do. Help them become familiar with signs that might mean a flare-up like coughing, repeatedly clearing the throat, rapid breathing, chest tightness or shortness of breath. Make sure they always have medication on hand, and they are comfortable with how to use it.

Help kids to avoid triggers, even when you aren’t there

Triggers like air pollution and dust can’t always be avoided, but there are other things your child can control when at school.  Make sure your kiddo understands his limits when exercising or playing outside. Work on strategies to help cope with high emotions and stress, both common triggers in kids.

If your child also lives with food allergies, make sure he knows how to steer clear, and encourage him not to share food with friends if he doesn’t know what’s in it. Teaching your child to steer clear of other sick students when he can, and to wash his hands frequently can also help, since cold and flu viruses can kick-start asthma attacks.

Make sure your child is medication compliant

Taking controller medications and having rescue medications at the ready helps keep your kiddo’s asthma symptoms under control, at school and at home.


This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.