Every year, pediatricians notice that there is a big surge in asthma issues early in the school year. It happens before the big stretch of "winter viruses" hit. It happens often when the weather is still nice. And it catches many families off guard. Read more so you can be prepared.
It is thought that three things happen during September to make these asthma issues much worse. Mid August brings a surge in the weed pollen, especially ragweed pollen here in Central Ohio. The pollen can trigger asthma issues. Back to school time suddenly increases many children's exposure to viral upper respiratory illnesses. It may not be as severe as into the cold weather months, however these viruses can trigger asthma issues. In addition, the weather changes that start in September, with some cooler days then warmer days, can also trigger asthma issues. These three things can work together to dramatically increase the chances of asthma flaring up early in the school year. In the 2014-15 school year, there was such a surge of asthma issues that folks at Nationwide Children's Hospital were calling it "asthmageddon". We had quite a few patients whose asthma worsened during that time period last year, with many admissions to the hospital and visits to the office or urgent care.
The other big reason asthma worsens at this time of year, and the reason I am writing this blog post, is that many families let their guard down with asthma prevention. It is human nature to get out of the habit of using the daily asthma prevention medicine during the "well time of the year", summer time. If the inhaled steroids or Singulair (montelukast) is not in their system, children's asthma may quickly worsen if one of the above triggers (or all three) occur. And please remember that these medicines are much less effective if they are started when symptoms start -- cough, wheezing, difficulty breathing. They are most effective when given for weeks ahead of time and continued on a daily basis. We are only about 6-8 weeks from this time period, so NOW is the time to start these preventative medicines if your child has been off the medicine during the warm weather months. If you have questions about this, contact us during routine office hours.