What is the September Spike?
Every year, around the third week of September, there is an increase in asthma attacks in children. It is known as the “September Spike” since there is an increase in visits to walk-in clinics, emergency departments and doctor's offices in the weeks after the start of the school year. If your child doesn't already have an asthma action plan in place, talk to their doctor or respirologist about getting one.
Why does the September Spike happen?
Researchers have found that the main reason for this increase is cold viruses that spread quickly when students are in close contact with each other in classrooms, schoolyards and buses. Colds and other respiratory infections are common triggers of asthma symptoms, especially among school-aged children. Other studies suggest that up to 85% of childhood asthma attacks may be triggered by viral infections. These attacks are also associated with a rise in seasonal allergens and reduced compliance with asthma controller medication (which tends to happen over the summer months). Other possible causes for September flare-ups include indoor and outdoor mould and seasonal pollen (e.g., ragweed).
What can I do to keep my child’s asthma under control during the September Spike?
Effective asthma management requires daily effort. Parents can help to ensure that their child’s asthma is kept under control with the following steps:
- If your child doesn’t already have a written “asthma action plan”, ask your healthcare provider to complete one for you. The asthma action plan helps guide you on what steps to take if asthma symptoms start. Download a sample HERE
- Make sure they always have access to their quick-acting inhaler (usually blue). Make sure their prescription has been renewed before the start of school.
- Make sure your child is taking their medications, as directed. Any symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath can mean asthma is not under control.
- Reinforce the importance of handwashing/sanitization
- Have your family get the flu shot. Children with asthma are more at risk of complications from the flu.
- Talk to your child's school about their asthma policy (including inhaler use, and ensuring it's a trigger-free environment).