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Prevent back-to-school asthma emergencies (the “September Spike”)

Aug 15, 2019

Heading back to class means team tryouts, meeting new teachers, and reuniting with old friends. But for the one in five children in Ontario living with asthma, it can also mean a trip to the emergency department. It doesn’t have to be this way! We can prevent the September Spike.

Why asthma attacks happen more often – or “spike” – in September

Experts think that the cold virus is the main cause of kids’ asthma attacks in September. When kids go back to school, it’s back to close quarters with classmates – and the viruses they carry. Viruses like the common cold are the #1 cause of asthma flare-ups in children.

It is also suspected that kids may be returning to school with poorly managed asthma if they’ve spent the summer out of their regular asthma management routine. Other possible reasons for flare-ups? Allergic triggers at school, like mould and dust, or even seasonal outdoor triggers like pollen.

How can I protect my child from September Spike asthma emergencies?

With proper asthma management, we can keep kids in classrooms, not emergency rooms!

Complete an Asthma Action Plan for your child, with the help of your healthcare provider. The plan covers things like how to adjust your child’s medication according to their symptoms. Download The Lung Association’s pediatric plan by clicking here.

Make sure your child is taking their asthma controller medication as prescribed. People with asthma must take these medicines consistently, even if they aren’t showing symptoms.  Need help with perfecting your child’s inhaler technique? We can help!

Children should have access to their fast-acting reliever inhaler at all times. The reliever inhaler (or “puffer”), wusually blue, widens the airways and reduces symptoms fast during an asthma attack. Thanks to Ryan’s Law, Ontario schools must allow kids to carry their asthma medication with them, as long as they have the permission of a parent or guardian.

Scrub-a-dub! Teach your child the correct way to wash their hands with soap and warm water.  It’s the easiest way to stop the spread of the germs that could make them sick. Read Health Canada’s handy guide here.

Get the flu shot every year. If you have a child with asthma, it’s extra important that every member of the family gets protected against influenza. Ask your pharmacist when the shots will be available – usually as early as October.

Is your child’s school asthma-friendly?

  • All school boards in Ontario are required to develop and maintain asthma policies and procedures that help protect students who have asthma
  • Your child is able to carry his/her asthma rescue inhalers at school – with your permission
  • If you haven’t already, you should work with your child’s school in the preparation of an Individual Student Asthma Management plan.