Strategies for the September Peak
You may have heard that September is the worst month for asthma. I don't personally recall having worse symptoms in September over any other month. We can only speculate as to why September is the month when increased asthma doctor and emergency room visits typically occur. None the less it serves as a good reminder to do my part to maintain good asthma control.
Researchers have narrowed it down to the 38th week of the year being the height of asthma exacerbation among children.1 In many places this is a few weeks into the school year. Kids are just getting into the routine of the school year. Perhaps the demands of the playground and PE are revealing that they aren't as well controlled as one would hope.
However, researchers who studied children in Ontario, Canada found that the height of the September peak was in 2005.1 From 2005 to 2013 a 51.7% decrease in the rate of emergency department visits was observed among all age groups of children in the study.1 Less kids in the emergency department is an outcome we can all get behind. The study still reported a spike in September in emergency departments and then approximately 4 weeks later at doctor’s offices.1 The spike of visits was spread across the whole region of study. The study authors stressed the importance children maintaining good asthma control all year long. They encouraged hand washing to minimize viral respiratory infections. The majority of childhood asthma attacks and emergency room visits are among children with the common cold.2 Another possible cause of the September Peak is ragweed allergy season.2
Following best practices can help our community put the September Peak into the history books. Asthma Canada encourages caregivers to take steps to help their student successfully return to school including2:
- Having an up to date Asthma Action Plan provided to the school.
- Identify and avoid asthma triggers.
- Find an appropriate treatment for allergies.
- Take asthma medications as prescribed even when feeling well.
- Use proper hand washing technique to avoid the spread of colds.
- All members of the family getting a flu shot.
- Getting regular asthma check ups to ensure that good control is being maintained.
I don’t have a student with asthma in my life to worry about this back to school season. None the less these all seem like good reminders as I head into the fall season at work. Just a few days ago one of my coworkers mentioned that her relative had tested positive for Influenza A. I promptly cleaned off the shared conference call phone with an alcohol wipe and washed my hands before I touched my face. Hopefully with good hand washing and trigger avoidance we can all dodge any unplanned asthma doctor visits in the 38th week of this year. Though if you are remiss in scheduling your annual checkup, September is a great month to give the doctor’s office a call. Are you taking special precautions to avoid an asthma exacerbation this month? Do you have a student headed back to school?
Have you developed a new food allergy in the last 5 years?