All Children's Hospital Logo

Health Information Library

Parents > Special Needs > Factsheets > Asthma Special Needs Factsheet
Asthma Special Needs Factsheet

What Teachers Should Know

About 7 million U.S. kids and teens younger than 18 have asthma, which is the No. 1 reason students chronically miss school. Asthma flare-ups are the most common cause of pediatric emergency room visits due to a chronic illness.

Asthma is a lung disease that makes it difficult to move air in and out of the lungs. While there is no cure for asthma, it can be managed so kids and teens who have it can live otherwise normal and healthy lives.

Asthma causes two things to happen inside the lungs:

  1. constriction, the tightening of the muscles surrounding the airways
  2. inflammation, the swelling and irritation of the airways

Constriction and inflammation both make the airways narrower, resulting in symptoms such as:

When the condition is not managed properly, students can miss class time or entire school days.

Students with asthma may:

Because bullies often target students who seem "different," certain health conditions, including asthma, can put kids and teens at higher risk of being bullied.

What Teachers Can Do

Students with asthma may need special consideration regarding missed instruction, assignments, and testing when they miss class time due to flare-ups, going to the school nurse's office to take medicine, and visiting their doctors.

Keep in mind that students with asthma can participate in school sports, phys-ed, and other activities. Students who have exercise-induced asthma (EIA) may need to use their inhalers before participating in physical activities. Students with EIA may have to take other precautions to avoid flare-ups — check with your students' parents.

Make sure your students with asthma have action plans to help prevent and manage flare-ups. You should know your students' asthma triggers and allow them to use their medicine when needed. If a student's symptoms worsen after taking medication, call the school nurse or 911.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: August 2013

Related Articles
P    Asthma Action Plan
K    Asthma Action Plan
T    Asthma Action Plan
P    Asthma Center
K    Asthma Center
T    Asthma Center
P    Asthma Diary
K    Asthma Diary
T    Asthma Diary
T    Asthma-Safe Homes
P    Can Kids and Teens With Asthma Play Sports?
K    Can Kids With Asthma Play Sports?
T    Can People With Asthma Play Sports?
K    Can the Weather Affect My Asthma?
P    Can the Weather Affect My Child's Asthma?
P    Creating an Asthma-Safe Home
P    Dealing With Asthma Triggers
K    Dealing With Asthma Triggers
T    Dealing With Asthma Triggers
P    Exercise-Induced Asthma
T    Exercise-Induced Asthma
P    First Aid: Asthma Flare-Ups
P    Handling an Asthma Flare-Up
K    Handling an Asthma Flare-Up
T    How Can I Deal With My Asthma?
K    How Do Asthma Medicines Work?
T    How Do Asthma Medicines Work?
P    Ozone, Air Quality, and Asthma
K    Ozone, Air Quality, and Asthma
T    Ozone, Air Quality, and Asthma
P    School and Asthma
K    School and Asthma
T    School and Asthma
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2015 KidsHealth® All rights reserved. Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and

Additional Info

Pocket Doc Mobile App
Maps and Locations (Mobile)
Programs & Services
For Health Professionals
For Patients & Families
Contact Us
Find a Doctor

All Children's Hospital
501 6th Ave South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 898-7451
(800) 456-4543

Use Normal Template
© 2015 All Children's Hospital - All Rights Reserved