Kids are back to school and cold and flu season is upon us. It’s the perfect storm for children with asthma. In fact, every year around the third week of September a recurring phenomenon occurs called the “September Spike.” This spike refers to an increase in emergency room visits, hospital and ICU admissions and unscheduled doctor visits all for the treatment of asthma.
Dr. Mary Noseworthy, the Director of the Asthma Clinic at the Alberta Children’s Hospital explains the common cold virus is one of the biggest triggers for asthma in kids and allergies can also prompt an asthma attack. So, Dr. Noseworthy encourages all families of children with asthma to have their asthma action plan ready, to make sure all medications are up to date and filled up, to ensure their children wash their hands regularly and get a flu shot as soon as it becomes available. Dr. Noseworthy wants to remind everyone that asthma can be very serious, even fatal, if it’s not controlled or prevented.
Lori-Anne Kochuk, an Asthma Coordinator with the Asthma Clinic at the ACH, says children can show symptoms of asthma for the first time during the September Spike. She says parents should watch for night-time coughing, coughing when the child wakes in the morning, shortness of breath, a child that’s easily fatigued and increased muscle use as the child struggles to breathe…. a pulling in of their ribs and bellybutton or a drawing in of the skin at the base of the neck under the chin. If the child has any of these symptoms parents should seek medical care right away.
Kochuk says HealthLink at 811 is a good option for children not having an attack and if the child is visibly struggling to breathe a trip to the ER is required.
Kochuk also encourages all parents of children with asthma to make sure to let their child’s teacher know their child has asthma and to make sure the teacher has the best contact information for the parent and the appropriate medications ready. Teachers are usually quite familiar with asthma…. one in 5 children in school has asthma.