TORONTO, Sept. 5, 2018 /CNW/ - Back to school means homework assignments, new teachers and seeing old friends, but for the one in five children in Ontario living with asthma, it can mean a visit to the emergency department (ED).
According to figures compiled by the Ontario Asthma Surveillance Information System (OASIS), the 38th week of the year continues to be the peak time for asthma attacks among young people. This phenomenon, known amongst healthcare professionals as the "September Spike," sends an increased number of school children and their families to EDs and doctors' offices in the weeks after the start of the new school year.
Experts believe viruses, including the common cold, are the main cause of asthma flare-ups in September. When children go back to school, it's back to close quarters with classmates - and the viruses they carry.
"It is important to identify contributing factors to asthma flare-ups in September and take steps to help prevent them," says Christina Sperling, Director of Respiratory Health Programs, The Lung Association – Ontario. "Other possible causes for September flare-ups include: not taking controller medication as prescribed during the summer vacation; the stress of returning to school; allergic triggers at school such as mould and dust; and more air pollution as school buses and commuters return after the holidays."
Parents of children with asthma need to be aware of ways in which they can help prevent an urgent trip to the ED:
- Learn how to manage your child's asthma and teach your child about managing his or her asthma as well;
- Avoid getting viral infections through regular and thorough hand washing;
- Work to identify your child's triggers and take steps to avoid them;
- Ask your healthcare provider for a written asthma action plan so that you and your child can recognize worsening signs of asthma and know how to get it under control;
- See your healthcare provider if your child's action plan or medication is not keeping his or her asthma under control;
- Be sure your child (age–appropriate) has their reliever inhaler with them at school or the school has easy access to it; and
- All family members should get the seasonal flu shot as soon as it becomes available.
This September marks the first school year when schools must ensure they are asthma friendly. Schools should identify which students have asthma and take the following steps:
- Teachers should work with parents/guardians and students (if age-appropriate) in completing the Individual Student Asthma Management Plan (ISAMP), a form that should be kept on file at school that identifies students with asthma and provides guidance on how to manage it.
- School staff should learn to recognize asthma symptoms and asthma attacks and know what to do when they occur.
For more information on Asthma Friendly Schools and how to keep your child's asthma under control, visit www.lungontario.ca/septemberspike or call The Lung Association Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) and speak to a certified respiratory educator.
About The Lung Association – Ontario
The Lung Association - Ontario is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping all Ontarians breathe. Our community of donors, patients, researchers, volunteers and professional staff work to ensure Ontarians have healthy lungs, bodies and clean air necessary to breathe. We achieve this by promoting healthy breathing, supporting those living with lung disease and finding future solutions. All of this is done with the goal of delivering a future of better breathing for all.
SOURCE Ontario Lung Association
For further information: Media Contact: Monica Kocsmaros, Director of Marketing and Communications, The Lung Association, [email protected], 647-293-9911