Preparing for September with an Asthma School Action Plan

What's the September Asthma Epidemic?

It's the month of the year where more kids are hospitalized for asthma than ANY OTHER month of the year. (And you probably thought it was during flu season, right?) School-aged children have the highest hospitalization rates, followed by preschoolers, and then the adults.

So why September?

Well, let's think about what happens in September. Kids go back to school... and that means:

LOTS of germs

Ever helped out in your kid's classroom and watched the kids wiping their runny nose with their hands? What about sneezing into their hands before they reach for the crayons or glue sticks on the shared table? Then coughing all over the drinking fountain and sharing their lunch with their friends (after they sneeze and cough on it).

Put hundreds or thousands of kids in a school, and that's a LOT of germs.

Viral infections

All those germs can lead to viral infections (the common cold.) Did you know that 80% of asthma attacks in children are caused by a virus? And 50% of asthma attacks in adults are caused by viruses? And that those who end up in the hospital are there with a virus?

Allergens at school

When our son started elementary school, he was having asthma attacks--every day. I couldn't figure out what was going on. A doctor examined him, tested him for allergies, then told us our middle son was allergic to cats, dogs, trees, grass, etc. Our doctor said other students were probably wearing clothing or backpacks that had cat or dog dander on them from their pets. It's not as though we could ask the whole class to get rid of their pets... so our son started allergy shots to help him tolerate the cat and dog dander from the other student's clothes.

It can be hard to keep up with big school buildings, and they can have mold, dirty furnace filters, cockroaches, and mice.

So, how do we avoid getting sick when school starts?

Stay on your controller inhaler

It's easy to get off schedule during summer vacation. But the controller inhaler does just that - controls the swelling in the lungs. Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America says:

"In one study that looked at a group of school-aged children who had asthma, many of the children got a cold during the back-to-school season. However, those who had been taking prescription long-term asthma control medicine were less likely to have a serious asthma flare than those who had not."

Asthma school action plan

An asthma action plan is filled out by your doctor and will tell you what to do during an asthma attack. It has green, yellow and red zones, based on symptoms. Each zone has steps or asthma medicine to take. Every year, we met with our asthma doctor to update our kid's asthma action plans and made sure their teachers had a copy.

Keep your body healthy

We avoid other sick people (and have walked out of events when someone was sitting behind us who was obviously sick and coughing on us). Do the basics--wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth, and sneeze into your sleeve or elbow (instead of your hand). Get lots of sleep and eat healthy. Make sure you always have your asthma inhalers with you.

And let's see if we can avoid being part of the September Asthma Epidemic!

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