ADVICE FOR STUDENTS WITH ASTHMA
RETURNING TO SCHOOL - RIGHT OR WRONG?
Going back to school may be an important part of mental and emotional health, and this should be considered by families and students when weighing up the pros and cons of returning to school. Asthma NZ realise that this is a very stressful decision for parents and students, particularly those with asthma. Asthma NZ have provided a number of things to consider below.
ASTHMA NZ ENCOURAGE VACCINATION
If there are eligible members of your household, wider family and friends who have not yet had the Covid-19 vaccination, the vaccine is currently the best defense against this disease and we highly recommend you and your wider family and friends get it.
SCHOOLS ARE BEING ASKED BY ASTHMA NZ NOT TO CARRY OUT PEAK FLOW TESTS IN THE SCHOOL CLINIC DURING A PANDEMIC
Due to the risk of transmission of COVID 19, we would recommend that peak flow tests are not carried out at school due to the potential risk of aerosol spread of Covid 19. Students should arrange to have a peak flow test at home and provide those results to the school nurse. Peak flows can be obtained from your GP or by contacting Asthma NZ directly.
ASTHMA CONTROL TESTS (ACT)
We would encourage a student with asthma to complete an ACT to gain subjective insight into their asthma management. Click here
to download an example ACT test and speak to your GP or an asthma nurse educator further about how to complete it.
Designed especially for young people, click here
to download a copy directly.
GOOD ASTHMA CONTROL DURING COVID 19
If asthmatic, contracting Covid-19 may put a student at an increased risk of having an asthma exacerbation. The best way to prevent this is through good asthma control. This is similar advice to an asthmatic who contracts Influenza or RSV for example.
Good asthma control can be achieved through :
- Taking a Preventer medication as prescribed by a G.P
- Ensure you are taking your preventer medication as prescribed twice daily or daily if on Breo.
- Using a Reliever (Blue) inhaler when necessary. If they/you are not taking a Preventer, please seek advice from your G.P about commencing one, especially if you require reliever medication more than twice a week.
Check inhalers are not empty. When an inhaler is full it should feel heavy and when you shake it next to your ear it should sound like liquid moving. If getting empty, it should feel very light and when shaken to the ear, an inhaler makes a gritty/sandy like noise. Inhaler should be discarded and new inhaler started. Inhalers should not be used as they near empty, as there is more propellant than medication so this will mean less medication than prescribed. If in doubt throw it out once you have a replacement.
- Carry appropriate emergency medication with you.
- Check all medication is in date; fill repeat prescriptions if necessary or arrange new ones through your G.P. This can often be done without actually needing to see a G.P.
- Use metered dose inhalers with a spacer (contact Asthma NZ 0800 227 328 if you don’t have one.)
- If you are unsure of device technique, please check with your G.P, pharmacist, or a nurse at Asthma NZ.
- Follow your Asthma Action Plan. If they/you do not have one, please see your GP for one. Regular check-ups are important.
Make sure you know what to do in the event of an asthma emergency. For advice go to www.asthma.org.nz
- If any students require a new spacer/peak flow monitor, emergency magnet or asthma action plan brochure or any further advice, please contact Asthma NZ directly. Free call 0800 227 328. Extra information and informative posts can be found on our social media platforms – follow us on Facebook, Instagram and You-Tube here.
IS YOUR YOUNG PERSON TAKING ONLY SALBUTUMOL?
We recommend that they see their GP to obtain either a preventer or a combination medication.
LOOKING AFTER YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Staying healthy physically, mentally and emotionally are important ways to strengthen the immune function. Eating well, exercising, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and if you are struggling with any of these, please reach out for support and help.
WHERE TO FIND HELP
Student's should not be afraid to seek support. There are helpline services available right now that offer support, information and help for the student, their family, whānau and friends. For support with anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, they can call or text 1737 to talk with a trained counsellor for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Mental Health Foundation has a full list of services available.
TOP WAYS TO LOOK AFTER MENTAL WELL-BEING
There are a number of things we can all do to boost our mental wellbeing and that of our loved ones.
This is important for overall wellbeing and helps to make a person feel safer, less stressed and less anxious. We can support each other through the recovery, by keeping the connections and close ties to others that we forged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, worried or scared. Giving ourselves time to notice and express what we are feeling. This could be by writing thoughts and feelings down in a journal, talking to others, doing something creative or practicing meditation. Talk with people we trust about concerns and how we are feeling. Reach out to others.
STICK TO ROUTINES
Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, eat at regular times, shower, change clothes, see others regularly, either virtually or in person. Meditating and exercising can help us relax and have a positive impact on our thoughts. Try not to increase unhealthy habits like comfort eating, drinking, smoking or vaping.
CHECK IN ON OTHER PEOPLE
Reaching out to those who may be feeling stressed or concerned can benefit both you and the person receiving support.
LIMIT ONLINE TIME
Students may find it useful to limit their time online. Check media and social media at specific times once or twice a day.
DON'T SHARE / STAND IN THE PATH OF A VAPE EXHALE FROM A USER
We know that vaping is something many young people are doing. Naturally we advise against vaping as we would prefer that the only thing that goes into lungs is oxygen. However, if vaping is something that YOU ARE AWARE is happening, please do not share vapes and avoid standing in the cloud that someone breathes out.
We really encourage those with asthma who do vape or smoke to make this the time to give up. We realise that this might not be easy and remain committed to them breathing easy for life. If further help is needed, click here.
ATTENDING SCHOOL IN DIFFERENT REGIONS & LEVELS
Auckland, Northland and Waikato are currently in level 3, however, many other students have been attending school with safety protocols in place, which means now is a great time to look at being proactive around managing your ASTHMA. As different regions experience differing restriction levels, being aware and proactive round your asthma is key to navigating through the levels.
CORRECT INHALER USE
It is imperative that families and students are aware of exactly what inhaler they are taking and why? There is a big difference between relievers and preventers and it is crucial that families seek help from ASTHMA NZ around education but also for us to help re-assure you that you are following the prescribed inhaler use so that over-use does not also cause a bigger problem than what you are trying to resolve.
MAINTAINING YOUR DISTANCE
Maintain social distancing rules, wearing a mask when outside of your home, and practice good hand hygiene and use of the Covid-19 Tracer app are all ways you can keep yourself safe.
DO YOU HAVE AN ASTHMA MANAGEMENT PLAN?
Use prescribed asthma medication as indicated in your asthma management plan.
If they/you don’t have an asthma management plan, book an appointment with the family GP or School Nurse to get this in place as soon as possible.
To avoid the next point, make sure you have this one covered. The Asthma & Respiratory Foundation have these available free in most languages. Click here for more information.
WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY!
Always a good thing to know as we believe in being prepared for worst outcomes but expecting the best. Educate yourself on what you need to know as a parent or student.
REFER YOURSELF TO ASTHMA NZ
Asthma New Zealand nurse educators provide FREE education, training and support to individuals with asthma/COPD and their families, in order that they may achieve their desired goals. Refer to us. Your GP, school nurse or even you can refer yourself FREE.
KNOW WHERE YOUR LOCAL ASTHMA SOCIETY IS
There should be help, advice and support in a town near you. Click Here
WE ARE HERE TO HELP
Click here to seek a nurse educators help HERE