Play It Safe With Allergies, Asthma During Pandemic School Year

-- Serena McNiff
HealthDay News

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FRIDAY, Aug. 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- As parents deal with the uncertainty surrounding school this year, allergies and asthma may not be top of their minds.

But even during a pandemic, parents of children with allergies and asthma need to consider the added risks their children may face, one allergist says.

Many school districts "are still trying to determine how kids will return to school this fall," said J. Allen Meadows, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

"The first priority is, of course, keeping children safe if they will be attending classes in person. As allergists, we need to examine not only how kids with allergies and asthma might be affected by the normal classroom risks, but how COVID-19 might also affect their health," he said in a college news release.

Meadows and fellow experts from the ACAAI offered some factors for parents of children with allergies and asthma to consider if their kids are returning to the classroom:

  • Breathing well with a mask: While, theoretically, this should not be true, some people with asthma feel that wearing a mask makes it more difficult to breathe. Since wearing a mask is essential to curbing the spread of the new coronavirus, parents may want to get their child accustomed to wearing a mask before returning to school by having them wear one for an hour or two while still at home.
  • Allergy symptoms probably will not go away: Wearing a mask to prevent COVID-19 certainly won't make symptoms worse, but it's unlikely to block allergens from entering a child's system. Parents should not rely on masks to prevent their children's allergies and asthma. Children should be up to date on prescriptions and have their symptoms under control, as with any school year.
  • Keep the flu away: As always, make sure your child gets the flu vaccine when it becomes available.
  • Bagged lunch: Many schools are recommending that all children bring lunch from home to eat at their desk, rather than gathering in a cafeteria. If your child has food allergies, remind them not to share food with others.
  • Stick to the usual routine: Remember that for children with asthma and allergies, COVID-19 is not the only concern. Provide school nurses and teachers with your child's asthma or allergy management plan.

More information

There's more about managing allergies and asthma during the coronavirus pandemic at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

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