(Article sources from the Breath Lung Health Association Newsletter)

Protect your breathing during September Spike

Every year, around the third week of September, there is an increase in asthma attacks in Ontario students.  It is known as the “September Spike” since there is an increase in visits to emergency departments and doctors’ offices in the weeks after the start of the school year.  For the one in five Ontario students who have asthma, it is recommended to take extra care at this time of year to reduce their risks.

Researchers have found that the main reason for this increase is cold viruses that spread quickly when students are in close contact with each other in classrooms, schoolyards and buses.  It is also suspected that over the summer months many children have interrupted their regular asthma management schedule, leading to a loss of asthma control.  Other possible causes for September flare-ups include indoor and outdoor mould and seasonal pollen (e.g., ragweed).

Effective asthma management requires daily effort.  Parents can help to ensure that their child’s asthma is kept under control with the following steps:

  • If your child doesn’t already have a written “asthma action plan”, ask your health-care provider to complete one for you.  The asthma action plan helps guide you on what steps to take if asthma symptoms start. Download The Lung Association asthma action plan for children.
  • Make sure your child is taking their asthma controller medication as prescribed.  Any symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath can mean asthma is not under control.
  • Children should have quick access to their fast-acting reliever inhaler at all times.  The reliever inhaler, which is usually blue in colour, can quickly help to relieve symptoms.  Under Ryan’s Law, Ontario schools must allow children to carry their asthma medication, with the permission of a parent or guardian.  Find school asthma resources and more information at www.RyansLaw.ca.
  • Teach your children how to avoid infections by washing their hands regularly.  Use hand sanitizer when a sink is not available.
  • Every member of your family should get the flu shot every year.  The flu shot reduces your own risk but also the risk to others.

For more information on how to keep your child’s asthma under control, call The Lung Association Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) and speak with a certified respiratory educator, email info@lungontario.ca or visit lungontario.ca.