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For many Australian families, 'back to school' means books, uniforms, sunscreen - and now an asthma kit.

TerryWhite Chemmart
Thanks to our brand partner, TerryWhite Chemmart

If your dining table is not drowning in back-to-school stuff for your children by mid-January, how do you even know you’re a parent?

There’s books, stationery, shoes, new uniforms…and rolls and rolls of contact. So much contact.

Back-to-school is next level for us this year because we’re at not only a new school, but we’ve moved cities and states, too.

But that doesn’t phase me as much as the fact that I have to start fresh with explaining that my son has multiple food allergies. It’s sometimes stressful being an allergy parent because not everyone gets it.

And of course I also need to check the medication in the allergy kit I send to school. Is it still within date? Did we pull anything out of it during the holidays? Knowing my son, he probably did.

I panicked a little the other day thinking that I should see whether there are different ways of doing things here. Like, do schools generally need more specific information on medication labels? We don’t have a family doctor yet, so I’m planning to pop into the local chemist and have a quick chat with the pharmacist. Because pharmacists are great like that – they’re so accessible. And I’m not just saying that because one of my oldest friends is a pharmacist (and I miss her!).

Our local one back home was an expert at thinking ahead, because he looked at our family’s health as a whole. In fact, last January, when I collected my son’s updated allergy medication, he’s the one who suggested that I also look at my son’s asthma plan.

My first thought was that it sounded strange – did I really need to be worried about asthma in the dry Australian summer? My son’s asthma was usually triggered by the cold, and him having a cold.

It turns out the answer is yes, I do need to think about asthma in summer. Asthma Australia reports that emergency departments see an increase in children’s asthma incidents at the start of each school year.

The spike in asthma-related hospital attendance is caused by a number of factors, such as pollen, grass, dust, dry heat, sudden changes in weather, the smell of chlorine around swimming pools, and an increase in exposure to viruses and infections from their classmates.

Asthma
Hot tip: Share your child's asthma plan with the school and give them a spare reliever in case an asthma attack occurs. Image: Getty.
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I mentioned this at the time to a friend of mine, who told me that her son's asthma was triggered during the school's summer cross-country run in the parklands a few years back. There were just too many allergens in the air that day. The worst part was that he now refuses to participate in the event, even though he'd be OK with the right hayfever medication and his asthma puffer.

I thought it must have been a particularly high-pollen day, but then I remembered my own school runs. Sure, it was awesome to be in the park and not behind a desk or on concrete during the school day. But I did also recall them being dusty - and combined with extra demand on my (somewhat unfit) lungs due to physical exertion, I did have to take my puffer with me.

So this is why I know that for my own kid, having a back-to-school summer asthma plan makes sense. Because asthma isn't scary if you're prepared.

The last thing I want is for my kid to be scared of back-to-school activities - I want him to participate in everything and feel good while doing it. Even though I know that I couldn't keep him away from the cross-country run even if I tried.

He may get his asthma genetically from me, but he didn't get my aversion to exerting yourself when it's hot!

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner TerryWhite Chemmart.

What are your tips for dealing with asthma during this time of year?

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