Tips for Kids with Asthma Attending Summer Camps
Saskatoon, July 19, 2010 – Following the tragic death of a young Regina resident with asthma while at summer camp, The Lung Association’s certified respiratory educators have received calls from concerned parents of children with asthma who are heading to summer camps around the province.
Asthma is a chronic lung condition that can result in breathing problems such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or tightness in the chest. There is no cure for asthma and it does not go away even when you are symptom free. However, with proper asthma management it can be controlled.
“Learning to manage your asthma begins with that first doctor visit,” says Bernie Bolley, a Lung Association registered nurse and certified respiratory educator. Three things that you should expect from your child’s doctor visit include:
- spirometry – a quick, simple breathing test that measures how much air you can blow out of your lungs to ensure a proper diagnosis;
- an asthma action plan; and
- a referral to a certified asthma educator or certified respiratory educator who can work with you to help you manage the asthma by identifying your asthma triggers, discussing ways to a void them, and instructing you in the proper use of medications.
Often children tend to have fewer asthma symptoms during the summer and reduce their asthma medications. It is very important to ensure that your child’s asthma is well-controlled before going to camp and that asthma medications are being used as prescribed. If your child answers ‘yes’ to one of the following questions, the asthma is out of control:
- Have you coughed, wheezed, or had chest tightness during the day more than 3 times in the past week?
- Have you woken up more than 1 time in the past week because of cough, wheeze, or chest tightness?
- Have you stopped exercising or limited your activities because of asthma in the past 3 months?
- Have you missed work or school because of asthma in the past month?
- Have you used the blue inhaler more than 3 times a week?
It is important to choose a camp carefully for a child with asthma. Some considerations are obvious. For example, children whose asthma is triggered by horses should not attend a camp that includes horseback riding. In a wet summer such as we are having this year, some camp buildings may have mould which should be avoided. The camp should have personnel who know how to recognize an asthma attack and know what action to take. The proximity to a health care centre is also a factor. Look for a camp that is not in danger of smoke from forest fires.
These strategies can help children to manage their asthma while at summer camp:
- Keep your rescue inhaler with you at all times;
- Avoid smoke from camp fires as much as possible;
- If you are at a camp fire, shower immediately after and put on clean clothes;
- Limit outdoor activities in hot, humid weather, especially when pollen counts are high;
- Talk to the camp nurse about your triggers;
- Make sure that the camp nurse has a copy of your asthma action plan; and
- Tell an adult when you start to have breathing problems.
- View or download our asthma handbook
- General information on asthma
- Information on asthma medications
- List of respiratory educators in Saskatchewan
To learn more about asthma and summer camp, please visit us at www.sk.lung.ca, by phone at 343-9511 in Saskatoon or 1-888-566-LUNG (5864) elsewhere in the province and one of our certified respiratory educators would be pleased to assist you.
Established in 1911, The Lung Association is Saskatchewan’s oldest health charity. You have come to know and trust The Lung Association as the premier source of lung health information for our province. All of our quality educational materials, programs, services, and treatment guidelines are based on current, evidence-based research. You will find The Lung Association active in communities across Saskatchewan conducting programs on asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), tobacco and sleep apnea. The Lung Association also provides training for health professionals, delivers health education in schools, facilitates patient support groups, and lobbies for clean air