Asthma Action Plan Vital for School-Age Children 

Structured approach to disease can help reduce anxiety, absenteeism

MASON, Ohio (March 13, 2015) – Asthma is one of the leading causes of absenteeism in American schools each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC).

More than 7 million children have asthma in America and more than 10 million missed school days are attributed to the disease, the CDC said. However, a child’s asthma that is well controlled can have a drastic impact on those figures. A group of health and school-based organizations – including the National Association of School NursesOff Site Icon – found that children with well-controlled asthma have a greater chance of remaining in class, increasing their academic performance and allowing their parents to remain at work. 

The best way to control asthma at school is for families to create an asthma action plan for their child, said Michael Chunn, MD, a Premier HealthNet physician in Mason. An asthma action plan is a step-by-step plan tailored to a child’s disease that allows caregivers to assess and determine the right treatment at any given time. 

“An asthma action plan helps increase the communication between home and school,” Dr. Chunn said. “It helps build the trust a parent has for those caring for their child and helps alleviate any anxiety they may have about sending their child to school on days when the asthma may need additional attention.”

An action plan can also serve as a powerful preventive tool for children who would rather choose to ignore their symptoms instead of missing out on school activities.

“A lot of asthmatics, especially as they get older, will minimize their symptoms because taking time to address them has traditionally led to a child missing out on things like sports or recess,” Dr. Chunn said. “However, ignoring those symptoms only worsens their condition. Having an action plan in place at school can help address the asthma before it gets out of hand, increasing a child’s chances of being a part of the day’s normal activities.”

Dr. Chunn said that an asthma action plan should include three main parts:

Assessment of the Child – Detail specific signs that should be assessed or questions that should be asked of the child so the caregiver can determine an accurate assessment of their current state. For example, are they coughing continuously or unable to participate in physical activity without shortness of breath? A tool called a peak flow meter may also be required to determine how well a child’s lungs are working.

Administration of Treatment – The plan should help guide caregivers regarding the proper treatment based on their assessment of the child. This could include use of an inhaler or even seeking additional medical care. 

Reassessment of the Child – The child’s condition should be reassessed once treatment has been administered. This can be done by observation and questioning, or through the use of a peak flow meter.  

The CDC and the American Lung AssociationOff Site Icon offer asthma action plan templates as a starting point for caregivers. Those can be found by going to their websites at and and searching asthma. It is important to remember that an asthma action plan should always be created with the help of a child’s physician. This ensures that the plan has all the necessary details and is ordered correctly. 

Use of an action plan should always extend beyond classroom time to include after-school sports and other forms of physical activity, Dr. Chunn said.

“It’s extremely important to be able to monitor an athlete’s lung function during the course of a practice and competition,” said Dr. Chunn, who serves as team physician at King’s High SchoolOff Site Icon in Kings Mills. “Knowing a child’s condition and needs in advance is very helpful. We don’t like surprises when it comes to any chronic condition. A solid understanding of a child’s disease helps us to better identify impending respiratory problems.” 

For more information on asthma action plans or to find a Premier HealthNet physician near you, visit:

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