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03rd Sep 2018

High Risk Of Asthma Attacks As Children Head Back To School


177,127 children heading back to school at risk of asthma attacks this month as a result of “September Asthma Peak”.

September is one of the toughest times of the year for people with asthma, particularly children, as the weather changes and colds and flus are on the rise.

Add a new school or routine into the mix and it’s easy to see why hospital admissions for asthma increase so much at this time of year. Doctors see a spike in hospital visits and admissions in children, as a result.

The Asthma Society of Ireland has released tips to help minimise your child’s risk of an attack.

  • Parent and kids often fall out of routine over the summer and asthma adherence can fall by the wayside. It’s very important that during September families back into a full good asthma management routine.
  • Don’t send your child to school sick, as this will encourage the spread of viral infections.
  • Taking inhalers should be a core part of daily routines. It should become as natural as getting dressed or brushing your teeth.
  • Discuss an Asthma Action Plan for your child with your doctor, ahead of going back to school. It’s important not to rely on reliever inhalers (usually blue) alone when children have asthma, as reliever inhalers cannot stop asthma symptoms from occurring and won’t improve symptoms long term.
  • Older children and teenagers often require extra supervision and cannot be relied on to self-medicate independently. Systems should be put in place to ensure they’re taking their medication properly.
  • Dr Muhammed Tariq, consultant paediatrician, also offered some advice for getting prepared for the school year:
  • Visit your healthcare professional before school starts to answer any questions you have about your child’s asthma and to check their inhaler technique.
  • Get a new Ventolin inhaler and spacer before school starts, if needed.
  • Make sure your child’s teacher knows about their asthma and speak to them about your child’s needs.
  • Put together an ‘asthma pack’ for your child, labelled with their name. This should include a Ventolin inhaler and spacer. Check with your child’s teacher that they’re comfortable giving your child their inhaler.
  • It’s important to remember that an asthma attack is not a normal occurrence but a medical emergency. In the event of an asthma attack, follow the 5 Step Rule:
  • Stay calm. Sit up straight- do not lie down
  • Take slow steady breaths
  • Take one puff of your reliever inhaler (blue) every minute. Use a spacer if available
  • People over 6 years can take up to 10 puffs in 10 minutes
  • Children under 6 years can take up to 6 puffs in 10 minutes
  • Call 112 or 999 if your symptoms do not improve after 10 minutes
  • Repeat Step 3 if an ambulance has not arrived in 10 minutes

If your or child has an asthma attack it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible afterwards to check your medication and ensure it doesn’t happen in future. An asthma attack is a medical emergency and can prove fatal. One person a week dies as a result of their asthma.

Commenting on the risks, Dr. Marcus Butler, respiratory consultant and head of the Asthma Society’s Medical Advisory Group, expanding on the causes of the increase saying:

“Every year there is an increase in the number of children being admitted to hospital for asthma after they go back to school. This is known as the September Asthma Peak – it’s related to the increased exposure to a viral infection that happens at this time of year. Viral infections like colds and flu are related to 85% of asthma exacerbations in school-aged children.”

“Some children will be at greater risk if taking their preventer medication regularly has slipped off the agenda over the summer. This can sometimes happen because a child is feeling well in the warmer months. It’s important to remember that preventer inhalers must be taken every day, as prescribed, to build up the protection in the airways that will keep asthma symptoms at bay. Forgetting to take your brain inhaler for weeks or months and only resuming it a few days before school starts doesn’t give the medicine enough time to build up and won’t do a good job at preventing asthma symptoms.”

“Make sure your child knows how to use their asthma medicines properly and understand why they must take them, even when feeling well.”

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