By Pharmacist Karan Dhami
While going back to school is an exciting time for kids (and parents!), September brings a dramatic increase in hospitalizations for children with asthma, known as the September Asthma Peak. The September Asthma Peak is caused by a perfect storm of asthma triggers, all occurring at the same time:
- A return to school means increased exposure to germs, like the common cold
- Kids are introduced to new or different asthma triggers such as dust mites and animal dander, in the classroom or on the playground
- Compliance to controller medications often decreases over the summer months - Even if your child isn’t showing any symptoms, their asthma may not be under control!
- The peak of ragweed allergy season – pollen levels spike in early September
All of these triggers together lead to an increase in asthma symptoms, flare-ups and unfortunately, asthma related hospitalizations.
How to take control and prepare for the September Asthma Peak
- Set up a doctor’s appointment. Ensure all prescriptions and your child’s Asthma Action Plan are up-to-date. Have your doctor check your child’s inhaler technique using the medication and a chamber.
- Speak to your pharmacist. As a partner in your child’s healthcare, rely on your pharmacist to answer any questions you may have about your child’s asthma medications. Set up a time to talk to your pharmacist to ensure you understand each of your child’s medications and their overall regimen.
- Use the correct chamber. Studies show that those who use a valved holding chamber with their inhaler have better asthma control.1 Talk to your pharmacist about what chamber is right for your child’s age and ability.
- Check your child’s technique. Go over your child’s inhaler technique with your doctor or pharmacist. Proper technique will help ensure they are getting the most out of their medication.
- Double Up. Keep a set of your child’s rescue medication and chamber at home and at school. This ensures that it is never forgotten in the morning rush.
- Meet with your child’s school. Set up a time to meet with your child’s school where you can talk to them about your child’s asthma, possible triggers and what to do if they experience symptoms or an asthma attack. Ensure they have an up-to-date copy of your child’s Asthma Action Plan.
- Educate your child. Talk with your child about their asthma and any new triggers they may experience at school. Ensure they know what to do at school should they feel their symptoms acting up.
- Help ensure your child’s asthma is under control. Ensure your child is taking their controller medication properly and monitoring their daily symptoms.
- Practice Proper Hygiene. Teach your child proper hand-washing techniques and how to avoid germs when at school.
While it is impossible to control or predict whether or not your child will be affected by the September Asthma Peak, taking the precautions above as well as monitoring your child and checking in with them regarding their asthma symptoms on a daily basis, can help make sure they have a happy and healthy return to school!
To learn more about the September Asthma Peak visit https://www.asthma.ca/get-help/asthma-3/control/preventing-september-asthma-peak/
For added support tools visit : https://lungontario.ca/disease/asthma/management-and-support/
1 GINA - Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention, 2017.