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Most States Now Allow Students to Carry Asthma and Allergy Medications

Most states are now allowing students with asthma and anaphylaxis (extreme life-threatening allergic reactions) to carry and self-administer lifesaving medications at school. This reflects new changes in state laws where previously school nurses had to store and administer the asthma and allergy medications. With the new ability to carry and self-administer treatments, students, parents, healthcare providers and school staff members all need to be educated on the new laws and how students can properly self-manage their diseases. Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) has launched a national campaign to help educate these groups on the new laws and proper treatment.

“For many students with asthma or anaphylaxis, the decision to run laps in gym class, join the marching band or eat lunch with classmates requires making life and death risk assessments on their own every day,” says Nancy Sander, AANMA president and founder. “As parents, teachers or medical professionals, it’s our job to help them do this with confidence and knowledge.”

While self-care by students has the potential to help save lives, there is no specific age or grade level at which all students have the skills necessary to carry and use medications responsibly. Because of this, knowledge and cooperation among students, parents, teachers and other school personnel is vital to insure proper self-treatment.

“Communication is key,” says Kevin Murphy, MD, an AANMA board member who led efforts to ensure emergency and asthma and anaphylaxis medications were in every school building in Nebraska. “Now that most states allow students to carry and use asthma and anaphylaxis medications at school, medical care providers need to talk to students to make sure they are ready to make self-care decisions at school.”

Because asthma is the number one reason for missed school days due to chronic illness, proper treatment is vital to improving attendance numbers. AANMA encourages students, parents and educators to work with school health officials to ensure students are ready for self-care and schools are prepared to handle asthma and allergy emergencies. Preparation includes keeping a backup supply of medications in the school nurse’s office as well as keeping trained medical professionals at school to respond to emergencies. Even thought school nurses are essential members of a student’s medical care team, unfortunately almost half the schools in America fall short of the federally recommended nurse-to-student ratio.

AANMA is committed to ensuring all states have laws allowing students to carry and self-administer asthma inhalers and auto-injectable epinephrine. This will help enable students to follow their doctor’s prescribed treatment plan, treat their conditions at the first sign of symptoms, and gain confidence and control over their chronic conditions.

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