Summer holidays cause ‘September spike’ in asthma hospital admissions

asthma ukParents are being warned about an increase in the number of children admitted to hospital after they go back to school in September.

The charity Asthma UK say the ‘September Spike’ happens each year in the first two to three weeks of the autumn term and is attributed to poor asthma care over the summer holidays, with a more relaxed approach to medicine use over this period.

They say that three children actually died from asthma attacks in early September of last year, and attacks are usually more prominent because of exposure to common triggers such as cold and flu viruses.

An estimated 1.1 million in the UK suffer from asthma; this equates to about two children in every classroom as having the lung condition. The charity say over 25,000 children required hospital treatment due to their asthma in 2011-12, with 18 children under the age of 14 dying from an asthma attack in 2011.

In addition, the Health and Social Care Information Centre have compiled information showing in 2011-12, 582 children in England required hospital treatment due to their asthma during the week beginning 19th September. This is in comparison to only 125 children for the week commencing 8th August.

However, with proper use of medicine and the correct care, a staggering 75% of hospital admissions could be avoided say the charity. Prevention, i.e. through the use of a preventer inhaler, is a major factor is managing the condition.

If children use their inhaler twice a day during the summer holidays, as they usually would before the break, they can severely reduce their chances of suffering an asthma attack and make sure they are in control of their symptoms.

The problems can begin during the school holidays when families go away to holiday destinations or leave children in the care of others who are either not aware of the child’s asthma or not fully clued up on how it is best treated/managed.

Delia Balan, Asthma UK’s senior nurse, says poor inhaler use is a problem that appears at around the same time each year: “Some children are out of their routine; they’re getting up later, going off on holidays, staying at their grandparents’ houses, and maybe some children are feeling better because it’s summer.”

Deputy chief executive Dr Samantha Walker added: “Normal routines can go out of the window during the summer break, which can effectively create a time-bomb for children with asthma. Those who forget to take their preventer inhalers over the summer will be less in control of their symptoms and therefore more vulnerable to asthma attacks come term time.”

The charity has now launched the ‘Teach Asthma a Lesson Next Term!’ campaign which is aimed at encouraging parents, healthcare professionals and schools to get a head start in combating the September asthma problem.

As part of the campaign, Asthma UK’s free, award winning My Asthma pack will be available to help parents create a fun routine with their child to manage their asthma and reduce the risk of attacks. The pack is aimed at children aged 6 to 12 and should be discussed with a doctor or nurse in order to fully reap the benefits of it.

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