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September Spike, a Back-to-School Hazard for Kids with Asthma
(NC) As if heading back to school after the summer wasn't hard enough, children with asthma also have to contend with the "September Spike". That is the name Canadian researchers have given to the sharp increase in the number of people, mainly children, arriving at hospital emergency departments with asthma symptoms around the third week of September.
They attribute the asthma spike to several factors. Over the summer holidays, many children do not manage their asthma properly – some even stop using their asthma medicines. Returning to school, they are exposed to cold viruses. With their asthma poorly managed, they are more likely to suffer a flare-up when they get a cold.
An attack can also be triggered by exposure to outdoor allergens such as ragweed and moulds and indoor allergens such as cat dander on other children's clothing.
According to Carole Madeley, director of respiratory health programs with the Ontario Lung Association, parents can determine whether their child's asthma is being well managed by answering these simple questions.
Does the child:
• Have to use a reliever inhaler (usually blue) more than three times a week?
• Have asthma symptoms more than three times a week?
• Ever have difficulty exercising or playing sports because of asthma?
• Wake up one or more nights a week because of asthma?
• Miss any school days because of asthma?
If the answer to any of these questions is 'yes', then the asthma is probably not under control and you should consult your health-care provider to see what needs to be done, said Madeley.
Here's some advice from the Ontario Lung Association to help you and your child avoid a trip to the hospital in September:
If your child doesn't already have a written asthma action plan, ask your health-care provider for one so that you'll both know what to do if asthma symptoms start. Make sure you and your child know how to use the action plan and follow it all year. Asthma doesn't take a summer holiday.
Any symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath can mean asthma is not under control. The asthma action plan will help you to get it back under control.
Take precautions to avoid an infection: wash hands regularly using the proper hand washing technique (a hand sanitizer can be used if there is no sink); sneeze and cough into a tissue, then throw it away and wash your hands (if there is no tissue, use a sleeve); and keep hands away from the face when in public.
If you have questions about asthma or other lung health issues, call the The Lung Association Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864).