Tips for Parents of College-Bound Asthmatics
So you are the parent of an asthmatic who is soon heading off to college, or perhaps is already off on that journey. Yes it's true you have to let your child go at some point, and hope he uses the wisdom you provided wisely.
Yet it's also important to know that your role as a parent has not ended. Even if he or she won't admit it, he will still rely on mom and dad for help. If your child has relied on you for help controlling his asthma, he will be especially vulnerable, and in continued need of your help.
Even if you and your child's doctor have managed to get his asthma under control, it's a proven fact that changing environments, plus the added stress of a new school, can result in worsening asthma control.
Thus, poor asthma control may result in:
- Days of school missed
- Poor grades
- Less exercise
- Increased obesity
- Increased sluggishness
- Loss in confidence
- Loss in self esteem
- Dependence on rescue inhalers
- Excuses for poor grades
- Increased drop out rate
To prevent worsening asthma control, it's important you keep in touch with your college-bound asthmatic. However, you'll want to be reasonable.
When I was younger, and when my dad wanted to give me his advice, he would almost always start this way: "You do whatever you want, but if I were you I would....( fill in blank).
Of course he would also limit his advice to 30 seconds and move on. Of course I didn't always listen to dad, but more often than not I did.
So, here are the tips:
1. Allergy Free Room: Help him find an allergy free place to live. Most college dorms are fine, if an apartment house smells musty, it's not a good choice. Be picky.
2. Vaccines: Make sure to remind him to get his flu and pneumonia vaccines. If he doesn't do it, at least it will be off your chest.
3. Reminders: Occasionally ask him, "Are you taking your asthma controller medicine?" He may shun you, but this simple reminder will still be taken to heart and heeded.
4. Alcohol: College is about learning, but it's also about discovering yourself. I did it, and you know your child will too. Just make sure to remind your son that alcohol is an asthma trigger (and to drink responsibly if he chooses to take that course).
5. Dr. Visits: Occasionally remind him he still needs to see his doctor at least once a year.
6. Technique: Watch him when he uses his inhaler. Is he using his spacer? Is he still using proper technique? He may need a humble reminder.
7. Money: All college kids need money. It may be a good idea to buy your son's prescriptions for him, or at least offer than if he needs you to you are available. That way he won't feel uncomfortable if he has to ask. And you can be sure if he isn't taking his medicine, it's not because of money.
8. Asthma Action Plan: Again, a simple reminder from time to time might be nice. Is he using his peak flow meter. He may feel awkward using it in front of his friends. Yet he should at least know his early warning signs of asthma and what to do.
9. Asthma wisdom: He's going to be too busy getting good grades to keep up on his asthma wisdom. At least for a while, it will be your job to do that for him.
10. Friends: Many asthmatics like to keep their asthma a secret. They like to puff in private. Yet make sure your son tells at least one friend about his asthma. He should also have access to a ride to the hospital if he needs one. Did you buy him a car? Or does he have a friend with a car? Or does the dorm RA have the ability to help in this regard?
Going to college should be an education and a fun time in your son's life. With the latest asthma wisdom and modern medicine, most asthmatics should be able to live a normal active life college life.
With some discreet help from you, he should be able to maintain control of his asthma, and prosper.