Ontario Lung Association

Ontario Lung Association

September 11, 2012 08:30 ET

Back to School Lesson Number One: How Proper Hand Washing Helps Keep Kids with Asthma out of Hospital

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 11, 2012) -

Editors Note: A video is associated with this press release.

Back to school means back to close quarters for students, resulting in a spike in asthma flare-ups that traditionally sends hundreds of school children and their family members to emergency departments in the third week of September. One way to help prevent an asthma attack is by practising proper hand washing techniques, a simple yet effective method of keeping germs and viruses at bay.

Doctors think the cold virus is the main cause for asthma flare-ups in September. When children go back to school, they're in a classroom with many other kids - and the viruses they carry. Viruses, including the common cold, are the number one cause of asthma flare-ups in kids. For kids with asthma, especially uncontrolled asthma, a simple cold can lead to dangerous symptoms and unscheduled visits to the doctor or emergency room.

Students also bring cold germs home from school and spread them to their parents and younger siblings. Doctors think this spread of cold germs explains why there's also a small rise in preschoolers' and adults' asthma flare-ups in late September, soon after the spike in school children's flare-ups. Proper hand washing at school and in the home can help.

September asthma flare-ups are also attributable to:

• Children not taking their controller medicine as prescribed, especially in the preceding summer months

• The stress of returning to school

• Ragweed and other weed pollens

• Allergic triggers at school, like chalk dust, cat dander on kids' clothes, mould and dust

"Good asthma control requires ongoing daily efforts. Asthma medications need to be given properly and are often needed every day to prevent asthma exacerbations," says Dr. Sharon Dell, pediatric respirologist and spokesperson for the Ontario Lung Association. "Avoiding triggers, such as viruses, allergens and smoke, also demands a continuous effort. However, the benefit of having well controlled asthma and being able to live a full active life is well worth these efforts."

It's important to have your child's asthma symptoms under control, a routine that can often get derailed over the summer months. If your child does catch a cold or the flu, your child's lungs will be better at fighting it off.

Back to School Asthma Check List

• Sit down and talk to your child about his or her asthma and answer any questions he or she may have about managing asthma at school.

Fight germs by washing hands properly: Teach your child and everyone in your family, how to fight germs by washing hands properly. Keep viruses in check with proper hand washing - use plenty of liquid soap and running water, or hand sanitizer. Rub hands for at least 20 seconds.

Triggers: Know your child's asthma triggers and how to avoid them. Educate your child on all of his or her triggers.

Medication: Make sure that your child is taking his or her asthma controller medicine as prescribed. Ensure that all of your child's medication is correctly labelled and make sure your child knows when to take the correct medication.

Action Plan: Have a written asthma action plan and know how to use it. You can download an asthma action plan and ask a doctor or certified asthma educator to explain how to use it.

• Visit a health care provider: See your doctor or health care provider if your child's action plan or medicine needs adjusting.

• Speak to your child's teachers and day care staff about his or her asthma

• Vaccinate yourself and your child against seasonal flu (influenza): Make sure your child and family members get the regular seasonal flu shot as soon as it is available.

• Make sure your child's school has all emergency contact numbers.

• Speak to a certified asthma educator at the Ontario Lung Association's Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) or visit www.on.lung.ca to download free asthma resources.

Lessons learned in September can help children and families avoid the annual December spike in asthma attacks as well. December flare-ups are disruptive causing children to miss school, parents to miss work and place significant seasonal pressure on the health care system.1

About the Ontario Lung Association

The Ontario Lung Association is a registered charity that provides information and funding for research to improve lung health. The organization focuses on the prevention and control of asthma, chronic lung disease, tobacco control as well as healthy air and its effects on lung health. For information, call 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) or visit www.on.lung.ca.




1. Cafe Scientifique; Allergy, Genes and Environment Network; 2012

To view the video associated with this press release, please visit the following link: http://youtu.be/4hj0qHQ2Nbs.

Contact Information

  • Media enquiries:
    Ontario Lung Association
    Nicola Cernik