The start of the school year, and end of the holidays, sees a spike in demand for help from GPs and hospitals for children with asthma.
One in 10 young people has asthma, but the annual peak for emergency treatment is September. This is due to a combination of coughs and colds circulating, and children getting out of the habit of using inhalers during the summer holidays.
Rising stress levels at the start of a new school year and ongoing pollution are also thought to be contributing factors to the spike in cases.
Jacqueline Cornish, national clinical director of children and young people and transition to adulthood at NHS England, said there are common sense measures families can take to reduce the risk of attacks.
These include giving medicines at the right time, giving children a spare inhaler to take to school, and checking in with their pharmacist for any inhaler updates.
″[These] can help parents manage the annual onset of ‘asthma season’ and go a long way to helping keep your child well and out of hospital,” said Cornish.
Dr Andy Whittamore, clinical lead at Asthma UK, called the back to school effect “potentially life-threatening” for children returning to classrooms this week.
“It’s easy for children to fall out of routines over the summer and forget to take their asthma medicines,” he said. “This means their asthma is a ticking time bomb and then when they catch a cold or flu at school, they are at risk of having a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.”
Dr Whittamore also advised parents to give their child’s school a copy of their asthma action plan.
“They should also ensure that their child takes their preventer inhaler,” he added. “This helps to build up protection in their airways over time so that if they come into contact with triggers such as colds, they are less likely to have an asthma attack.”