The September Asthma Epidemic

Last updated: September 2022

I am writing this in the middle of summer, and we are suffering through our longest streak of 100-degree days in a row. We just set a record. Ugh.

But I noticed that back-to-school supplies are out in the store - already!

I only have one child left in college, but I can remember what "Back to School" was like when my kids were young.

EVERY time school started, they would get sick. Over and over and over. I hated it!

Why was this happening?

Germy classrooms

Well, if you think about it - kids are spending summer outside. They are riding scooters, jumping on the trampoline, or going to summer camp.

But school starts and they are all cooped up in the same room.

I don't know what your class sizes are, but my kids' classes were always huge. I am talking 35 kids per class. Not kidding. So that is a LOT of germs to spread around. This has been a problem long before covid started.

I would often get a note from the school nurse that pink eye, stomach flu, or something else was going through the school.

And it seemed like my kids caught everything.

Not just a cold

The worst was when my kids would get a respiratory infection from school because that meant bronchitis or pneumonia for us. Kids without asthma would get a mild cold, have a runny nose for a few days, and never miss a day of school.

My kids would get the cold, and the coughing and wheezing would start. Then the tight chest and a hard time breathing.

They would already be taking their daily controller inhaler to keep the swelling down in their lungs. But then we would have to add on albuterol breathing treatments every 4-6 hours around the clock. And then they would need oral steroids.

When that still was not enough and they were struggling to breathe, we would end up in the emergency room (ER). 9 times out of 10, they would end up being admitted to the pediatric ward of the hospital for treatment.

Did you know that the month of September has the most asthma hospitalizations?

Most people think asthma hospitalizations are highest during cold and flu season in the winter. Nope. It's September.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation says,1

"There is a September asthma hospital stay “epidemic.” In fact, the third week of September is considered Asthma Peak Week. Many more people stay in the hospital for asthma shortly after school starts than at any other time of the year."

Normally, one of my boys would get sick at school. Once they were both sick, their little sister would get sick. Then I would get it since I was taking care of 3 kids with pneumonia...and they were coughing and wheezing all over me.

One of them would end up in the ER, then be admitted to the pediatric ward. I would be so sick, I would lay in the fold-out cot next to their bed and try to help take care of them. When my husband would come to the hospital to take his "shift" watching over our kids, he would see how sick I was too. He would call a neighbor to pick me up from the hospital and keep an eye on me while he stayed at the hospital with one of the kids.

He doesn't have asthma, so it was usually a mild chest cold for him.

And this would all start when the kids go back to school. It was like a chain reaction nightmare.

What does my family do to avoid the hospital during asthma peak week?

  • We make sure our family stays on their daily, controller inhaler. If we have swelling in our lungs and then get pneumonia, we are toast.
  • We get the flu vaccine every year, and the pneumonia vaccine every 5 years.
  • Continue to be germaphobes. We are frequent hand washers and avoid large crowds.

September is almost here. Get shopping for those back-to-school supplies and make a plan to keep your kiddos OUT of the hospital in September.

What do you do to help your kids avoid getting sick when they go back to school?

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