Ontario Lung Association

Ontario Lung Association

September 21, 2010 18:29 ET

"Week 38" is the Annual September Spike in Asthma Symptoms

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 21, 2010) -

Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this Press Release.

Attn healthcare, family editors:

Every year during the third week of September – known as "Week 38", hospitalization rates skyrocket for people with asthma, especially children. The annual peak in asthma flare ups sends hundreds of school children and their family members to emergency rooms in the weeks after school starts.

Doctors think the cold virus is the main cause for asthma flare ups in September. When children go back to school, they're in close quarters 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 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 a small rise in preschoolers' and adults' asthma flare up in late September, soon after the spike in school children's flare ups.

Other possible causes for September flare ups:

  • not taking preventer medicine as prescribed, especially in the preceding summer months
  • the stress of returning to school
  • allergic triggers at school, like cat dander on kids' clothes, mould and dust
  • more pollution as school buses and commuters return in full force

Recent research shows that the use of asthma preventer medicine (inhaled corticosteroids) drops in the summer by 60 per cent1. When they don't get regular asthma preventer medicine, children may have swollen airways. If the children catch a virus, their swollen airways are less able to fight it off.

If your child has asthma but has not been taking his or her medication during the summer, now is the time to start. It's important to have your child's asthma symptoms under control. That way, if your child does catch a cold or the flu, your child's lungs will be better at fighting it off.

Your "Week 38" asthma checklist

• Make sure your child understands how to manage his or her asthma. 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: Check the expiry date on medicines and replace if necessary. Make sure that your child is taking his or her asthma preventer 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 healthcare provider: See your doctor or health-care provider if your child's action plan or medicine needs adjusting. Work with a certified asthma educator to learn how to better manage asthma. Search this online directory to find an asthma clinic or asthma education program in your area.

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.

Your asthma checklist at school

  • Talk to teachers and day care staff about your child's asthma.
  • Asthma Action Plan: Give teachers and caregivers a copy of your child's asthma action plan and explain how to use it.
  • Triggers: Explain your child's triggers and usual symptoms.
  • Medication: Ask about the school's rules about asthma medications - stress the importance of allowing your child to carry his/her medicines with him/her at all times. Make sure your child's rescue medicine (blue puffer) is always nearby. Teach them where to find the medication and where to store any extra medication.
  • Hand Washing: Ask that they remind children to wash their hands properly.
  • What to do in an emergency. Make sure your child's school has all emergency contact numbers.

To learn more about how to keep your or your child's asthma under control, speak to one of our certified asthma educators at the Ontario Lung Association Helpline 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) or visit us online at www.on.lung.ca. You can also email us at Septemberspike@on.lung.ca if you have a question about how to manage your asthma.

About the Ontario Lung Association

The Ontario Lung Association is a registered charity that provides information and funding for research to improve lung health. We focus 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. You can also find us on Facebook.

Year of the Lung

2010 has been declared the Year of the Lung by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS). The goal of this global campaign is to raise awareness about lung health, initiate action in communities worldwide and advocate for resources to combat lung disease, including increased investment in basic, clinical and translational research worldwide.


(1) Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Volume 102, Number 3, March 2009 - Seasonal patterns in health care use and pharmaceutical claims for asthma prescriptions for preschool - and school-aged children pp. 198-204(7)

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Contact Information

  • Media enquiries: Ontario Lung Association
    Karen Petcoff