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Report identifies impacts of asthma on students returning to school classrooms

Toby Wright has asthma. He takes a daily inhaler as well as an Albuterol inhaler when he is having an attack.

A Utah Department of Health report outlines the impact of asthma on children as they head back to school this fall.

The Utah Youth Asthma Report shows that 8.9 percent or about 76,000 children in Utah ages birth to 17 are currently under medical care for asthma.

The study also details the total number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations due to the occurrence of serious events among children related to the illness, indicated Becca Jorgensen of the state department of health's asthma program

"One unique aspect of this report is that much of the information is from Utah students who have asthma," pointed out Jorgensen. "We're getting insight into how the disease affects them from their personal experiences and points of view."

Sections of the report focus on how asthma impacts middle and high school students participation in school activities.

One in five or 20.5 percent of middle school students with asthma indicated that the disease limits their activities at least once a week. And 22.5 percent of the students said they miss school one or more days a month with a severe episode.

Among high school students with asthma, 17.2 percent reported activity limitation and 15.6 percent said they missed school because of the illness.

"Students with asthma shouldn't be on the sidelines when it comes to participating in school activities," noted Jorgensen. "With the right treatment, students with asthma can stay active just like anyone else."

There is no cure for asthma. But if the condition is managed properly, children can join in school activities.

Families should talk about the students' difficulties with physicians and work with medical care providers to manage the symptoms.

Utah Department of Health experts encourage Carbon County parents, schools and children with asthma to take preventive measures for a smooth transition as students head back to class.

Students and parents should complete a self-administration form and turn it in to the school nurse or office.

The form allows children who are capable to carry as well as use inhalers at school.

In addition, families and students should ask doctors for a written asthma action plan, advised the state health department. The plan is an individual guide that indicates what things to avoid and what to do in an emergency or during an asthma attack.

Encourage student's physical education teachers and coaches to complete the "Winning with Asthma" online educational program at www.WinningWithAsthma.org. is also a good way to assure that people around students with asthma are understand the situation.

Parents should also check their child's medical charts to ensure their flu shots are up-to-date.

Asthma is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism for children in the United States and often causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing that can interrupt daily life.

For more information about asthma and for the full Utah Youth Asthma Report, visit http://health.utah.gov/asthma/ or contact Southeastern Utah District Health Department at 435-637-3671




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