Western Kentucky University

Media Relations

Survive the September asthma 'epidemic'

(CNN) -- Many parents don't realize that the worst asthma day of the year actually occurs in September. Clinical studies have shown that greatest number of hospitalizations due to asthma peak 17 days after Labor Day, which in 2013 will be September 19.

Why? As students return to school, there are a number of external factors, including respiratory allergens, viral infections and environmental irritants that can act together to create a "perfect storm" of asthma triggers.

To better understand the September phenomenon, we need to better characterize some of the underlying causes.

Outdoor allergens may seem to be the most obvious trigger. Ragweed, one the largest contributors to upper respiratory symptoms in the United States, produces pollen most aggressively after mid-August. However, indoor allergens can be a much more serious issue for patients with asthma.

Schools across the United States contain a number of potential respiratory allergens, including mold, dust mites, pet dander and, in some cases, cockroaches and mice. When children switch from a summertime outdoor environment to a climate-controlled indoor environment, overall daily exposure to these allergens can increase and severe symptoms can result.

Additionally, even though "flu season" is commonly known as a winter phenomenon, contagious viral infections are spread and shared as much, if not more, in September as they are in January. The school week is spent in an enclosed space with hundreds of other children (many of whom do not have sophisticated hygiene practices), which can provide stress to any student's immune system. Catching "the common cold" can cause additional problems for a child with asthma. Many respiratory infections can lead to an increase in the frequency and severity of asthma symptoms.

Indoor air particulates such as aerosols, chalk dust and other irritants, can also lead to an increase in asthma symptoms. While these irritants may not trigger a true IgE allergen response, they can cause rhinitis and other conditions that can exacerbate asthma.

For patients with allergic asthma, exposure to allergens, infections and irritants can make mid-September a very challenging time. In addition, the combination of virus and sensitization with high allergen exposure substantially increases the risk of hospital admission.

So what can parents do to avoid these asthma triggers?

Good preparation includes education. During a back-to-school wellness check-up, it's a good idea for parents to talk with their family clinician about both allergies and asthma if they suspect their child may be experiencing either condition.

After understanding the history of the symptoms, the clinician may order an allergy blood test to determine if possible allergic triggers are contributing to the asthma and other allergy-like symptoms.

If testing does identify allergic sensitization, a clinician can then advise parents on how to manage exposure to the allergens.

The first step in any allergy treatment plan is to avoid exposure as much as possible. While it may be almost impossible to remove all dust mites from a school, reducing exposure to them at home is a much more manageable task. Allergen-proof pillowcase covers can dramatically reduce exposure to dust mites, and since allergy symptoms usually occur because of cumulative exposure, allergen avoidance at night may help a child feel better all day long.

The same is true for mold and other allergens. It may be easier to control mold in the home environment (bathroom and/or bedroom) rather than the school environment. The key to effectively reducing a patient's exposure to allergens is to know which triggers to specifically target.

The "September Asthma Epidemic" is coming, but with appropriate preparation and education, it can be managed. If you're unsure about your child's risk, speak with your doctor about his or her past history and consider testing. Together you and your family clinician can determine which triggers might affect your child and create a plan to better manage the epidemic.

 

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/05/health/asthma-school-reinhardt/index.html?hpt=he_c1

Categories
All News  Now Viewing Category: All
School of Journalism & Broadcasting
CEBS
Media Relations
Academic Affairs
Augenstein Alumni Center
Instruments of American Excellence
Transportation
Emergency Preparedness
Police
Department of Music
Department of Theatre & Dance
Library News
Office of Sustainability
Office of International Programs
Office of Research
Ogden News
PCAL
WKU Greeks News
WKU Parent and Family Weekend
Parent's Association
Student Activities and Organizations
Scholarships Student Financial Assistance
Student Government Association News
Van Meter Auditorium
Teaching News
Study Abroad
Student Research Council
Student Employment
WKU Joint Admissions
International Student Office
Human Resources News
Cultural Enhancement Series
CHHS News
The Confucius Institute
Campus Activities Board
GFCB
WellU
The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky
Development and Alumni Relations
Downing Student Union
Health Services
Hardin Planetarium
News from The Center for Gifted Studies
Student Financial Assistance
Downing Museum
Etown & Fort Knox
Facilities
Employee Wellness
Latest Headlines
NDEO Fundraisers for Fall 2014

A summary of WKU National Dance Education Organization Student Chapter Fundraising events for fall 2014.

Freshman Cabaret Sponsored by Alpha Psi Omega

Details about the Alpha Psi Omega Freshman Cabaret at WKU.

WKU faculty member receives grant to support research in East Africa
Featured Articles
 Last Modified 7/23/13