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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

School kids need quick access to rescue medicine

Think about this.  There are many asthmatic adults who are embarrassed or too modest to seek medical attention.  Many are even so modest that they prefer to use their rescue medicine in private.  So why would this be any different with children.

The truth is -- and this only makes sense -- that children are even more likely to not want to seek out help when they're having trouble breathing, let alone want to use their inhaler in front of someone.  And it's for this reason alone that school policies that ban kids from carrying their own inhalers are ridiculous.

The main concern of schools is that kids will abuse the medicine.  Yet the facts show that when an asthmatic kid needs his rescue medicine, he needs it prompt.  If he hesitates to seek out help, and it then takes a while to gain access to the rescue inhaler, this can result in worsening asthma and even death.

The fact is that kids need rapid access to their inhalers.  They shouldn't have to stress about how they are going to gain access to it, it should be right in their own little pockets.  If they want to grab it and hide around a corner to use it, then they should be allowed to do that.

I know for a fact when I was a kid I hated the other kids to see me using my inhaler.  I also hated them to see I was having trouble breathing.  So when I needed it I hid around a corner and took my puffs.  I was a shy kid, so seeking out adult help wasn't an option and probably never would have happened.

Many schools with "no medicine in kid pockets" policies are learning the hard way that these policies may not always be such a good thing.  It's sometimes better to risk kids abusing their rescue medicine than it is for those kids to suffer or die.

Likewise, it should be noted here that using your rescue inhaler when you are short of breath is not abusing it.  I think that some people assume -- especially those who don't have asthma -- that if a child uses his inhaler more than the doctor recommends that this constitutes abuse.  Yet that's not true at all.

Surely overuse of an inhaler can be a sign of worsening asthma and prompt medical attention is necessary.  Yet it can also be a sign of hardluck asthma, or asthma that is not well controlled with common asthma preventative medicines.

Perhaps with this wisdom in mind as many school policies -- like this one -- are being changed to the way it was when I was a kid where asthmatic kids can carry their inhalers and have quick access to them when they need them.

Sure kids should be educated.  Parents should be educated.  And even more important, teachers and any person who will be responsible for that child at school -- including janitors, cooks, and aides --- must be educated about asthma.  They must know who has it, what signs to look for, what to do if the signs are observed, what that kid's asthma triggers are, etc., etc., etc.

To be honest, when I was a kid, if a school had such a policy, I would have ignored it.  Not that I would be trying to be a rebel, but one size fits all school policies that don't consider the different personalities and needs of asthma students are bogus.  Asthmatic kids need to carry their own inhalers.  Period.


1 comment:

Military Spouse Fellowship said...

I love this topic. It is so true that students don't want to take their meds or use their inhalers in front of people. I'm 43 and still try to hide when I have to use my inhaler. I just don't feel comfortable having people see me having problems breathing.
Thank you for bring this up.