September and October can be tough months for kids with asthma.
The back-to-school period brings a big uptick in asthma exacerbations. Sick days home from school and trips to the hospital aren’t uncommon for asthmatic students at the start of the school year. Hospitalizations and ER visits peak in September and October in Canada; as many as a quarter of hospital admissions for children with asthma in Canada occur in September.
What’s behind the peak in asthma attacks in the fall?
- Colds and other viral respiratory infections are common in the fall. As children return to school, they’re exposed to more people, and therefore more germs. On average, children in school have eight colds per year. If a child’s asthma isn’t under control, this can lead to at least one flare-up a month. Hospital data shows that 60% of kids with asthma admitted to ERs have the common cold.
- An influx in allergens. Weeds like ragweed and other plants release pollen into the air in the fall. Ragweed is unique to the Ontario region. High levels start in mid-August and continue through to October. If the pollen explosion in the spring bothers your child, it’s likely that they’ll also have reactions to ragweed. Once the autumn foliage sets in and leaves begin to fall from the trees, outdoor molds grow under fallen leaves, which is another potential allergen.
- Poor management of asthma. Year-round control of asthma, even during the summer when symptoms aren’t as severe, is important for preventing seasonal flare-ups. Not taking asthma medication at all or taking it sporadically and improperly during the summer may contribute to the peak in asthma attacks in the fall.
How can my child avoid asthma exacerbations this fall?
- Keep rescue medication on hand at all times in case of an attack. Teach them how to use their medication so they’ll know what to do if they need it.
- Ensure your child takes his/her asthma medication throughout the year, even when symptoms aren’t showing.
- Teach your whole family correct hand-washing techniques to cut down chances of catching a cold. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Always wash your hands before and after you eat, after using the restroom, after school, after touching a pet, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Keep hand sanitizer in your bag and your child’s backpack in case you can’t find a sink.
- If your child is sick, keep them home from school. This gives them a chance to recover and limits the spread of illness to other children.
- Schedule regular asthma check-ups with your child’s doctor to make sure their asthma stays under control.
ASTHMA CLINICAL RESEARCH
Burlington Lung Clinic is proud to conduct asthma clinical research. We research new treatments that strive to improve the control of asthma and quality of life for people who have the disease. Clinical trial participants gain access to new treatments before they’re widely available and have the support of a team of health care providers. To learn more about our current clinical trial opportunities and see if you or your child with asthma may qualify, please fill out the form below.