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Abstract

It is often taken for granted that schools are instrumental in the spread of illness from child to child as well as from child to teacher. In addition to the nagging colds, stomach viruses and other temporary maladies, the school environment may actually contribute to some lifelong medical conditions. Many children face an unhealthy school environment on a daily basis, year after year, which may contribute to a condition called asthma. Asthma causes the airways of the lungs to swell and constrict and can often flare up without warning. Asthma is one of the top childhood disorders and is also a leading occupational disease of teachers and custodians. Many hours are spent in the classroom setting and over time this assumed ‘safe’ setting can turn into a “sick classroom” affecting those who are most vulnerable. The focus of this article is to examine the effects of asthma on school age children and provide information to empower teachers to facilitate change in the classroom environment. Working together with parents and administrators, teachers can make changes that will reduce asthma triggers and thereby reduce and possibly prevent severe asthmatic episodes.

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