15/09/2015 08:32 BST | Updated 15/09/2015 08:59 BST

Children's Hospital Admissions From Asthma Attacks Increase In September, Warns Charity

Parents of children with asthma are being warned hospital admissions for asthma attacks usually experience a rise in September due to the 'back to school' trigger.

Asthma UK analysed data from previous years and found 3,550 children were admitted to hospital in England in September 2013, a sharp 293% increase from the month before.

Kay Boycott, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, said: "This data is really worrying.

"On average almost three children are admitted to hospital with an asthma attack every hour and almost 15% of the total children’s admissions for the whole year come just from this peak in September."

children asthma

Asthma is the most common long-term medical condition affecting children and asthma attacks are a warning sign that a child’s life could be at risk, according to the charity.

The monthly average for hospital admissions due to asthma is 2,048.

The charity believes this "back to school" peak is due to increases in colds and flu and a lower resilience to asthma triggers for children whose medicine-taking routine may have slipped over summer.

Dr Nitin Shori, Medical Director of the Pharmacy2U Online doctor service and a working NHS GP agreed, telling HuffPost UK Parents: "If you have asthma, there are many things that could trigger your symptoms. Colds and flu certainly tend to start being more prevalent at the beginning of the school year.

"For parents whose children have asthma, it is important to ensure their school is fully aware of the condition and that their child has access to their reliever medication should they need it during school time.

"If their GP has prescribed a preventer inhaler too, it is essential that this is taken regularly as prescribed, to help reduce the child’s susceptibility to things that trigger their asthma."

Dr Helen Webberley MBChB MRCGP MFSRH, dedicated GP for Oxford Online Pharmacy said controlling asthma is about making sure your children are using the preventer properly.

She told HuffPost UK Parents: "Parents need to know how to spot the warning signs of worsening symptoms. The twice daily preventer inhalers should mean that the reliever inhalers are only used every now and again, maybe during coughs, colds or with exercise.

"Many kids are embarrassed to bring out their spacer devices in school, and prefer to just use the inhaler with their lips. This means the medication is not getting down deep to where it needs to be, in order to be fully effective.

"If using the spacer device is a problem, parents should discuss alternatives, such as breath-activated devices, with their pharmacist, doctor or practice nurse.

"In addition to this, parents and teachers need to be vigilant to the viruses that children returning to school pass between each other, which can bring on an asthma attack."

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To raise awareness of the increase in admissions in September, Asthma UK is using the hashtag #SaferSeptember across social media.

Boycott added: "Tragically asthma attacks kill the equivalent of a classroom full of children every year in the UK, so it is vital that parents and carers of children with asthma do not become complacent about their child’s asthma.

"By downloading and using a written asthma action plan you can look after your child’s asthma throughout the year and spot the signs that show your child’s asthma is getting worse.

"There is nothing more frightening than watching your child struggling to breathe and no parent wants to see their child admitted to hospital because of a preventable asthma attack."

Concerned parents are advised to visit their GP or call the Asthma UK Helpline on 0300 222 5800.

Asthma UK’s tips to stay safe in September

1. Make sure your child has a laminated written asthma action plan.

2. Fill your action plan in with your GP and make copies – keep one at home, give one to the school and keep a photo of it on your phone so you always have it with you.

3. Educate your child and their school so they know the signs and symptoms of an asthma attack: wheezing, coughing (especially at night or in the morning), difficulty breathing and a tight, sore feeling in their chest (children often describe this as 'chest hurting' or 'tummy ache').

4. Check your child’s school has a spare named reliever inhaler (usually blue) in case of emergencies.

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