Asthma Attacks Surge During Back-to-School Season

Asthma Attacks Surge During Back-to-School Season

Annually, asthma attacks are surging as kids go back to school. Several factors have caused this surge in asthma attacks including rampant viruses plaguing schools as all the little ones gather and share germs. High pollen counts around the time of the school start also play a role.

“For a lot of asthmatics, a virus is a major trigger,” Dr. Kirstin Carel, a pediatric allergist at National Jewish Health in Denver said on LiveScience. Most back-to-school asthma attacks stem from colds caused by viruses because those with asthma have particularly sensitive airways.

Doctors recommend starting kids on asthma medications–whether they be in pill form or an inhaler–at least a few weeks before they go back to school. Or better yet, stick to your regular medication routine. Also make sure that schools have “rescue medications” or short-acting bronchodilators in case of emergency. Read more about asthma

Another reason attacks spike in the early autumn is that some children stop taking their asthma medication over the summer months. “Most patients need to stick with their usual routine,” Carel said on LiveScience, but some don’t “because they don’t have a regular schedule in the summer, and things get forgotten. If they don’t get back with the routine soon enough, it’s easy to get sick.”

Know Your Asthma Symptoms

It’s also important for kids to know their individual signs such as wheezing, coughing, labored breathing, and tightness in the chest. Also be aware of other triggers including tobacco smoke, polluted air, cockroach droppings, pets, mold, some kinds of food, and vigorous exercise.

Asthma is the leading cause of chronic disease in kids and adolescents. In the U.S., 9.5 percent of kids have asthma (or 7.1 million people). This comes out to about three kids per a classroom of 30. Low income populations, minorities, and children living in inner cities experience more emergency department visits as a result of asthma attacks than any other group.

At home, parents can take a number of steps to ensure that kids avoid asthma attacks.

Clean the house regularly to avoid dust mites and animal droppings but don’t clean the house when your child is home because it may trigger a reaction. Control mold by controlling moisture and humidity in the air. Don’t smoke around your kids, avoid scented items, use natural cleaners like oil and vinegar rather than conventional harsh cleaners, and use a HEPA-filtered vacuum. Read more about air pollution

Photo Credit: @aerial_m

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Sara Novak specializes in health and food policy writing for Discovery Health. Her work has also been featured on TreeHugger,, TLC Cooking, and Animal Planet. After graduating from the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia, Sara headed up the communication efforts for a national scholarship program in Washington, D.C. Sara has also handled copy writing and public relations for a global environmental consulting firm. She loves fiddling with healthful recipes, traveling, and exploring life atop her yoga mat. Today, Sara lives in Charleston with her husband and two lovable cocker spaniels, Madison and Bella.