By Julie Dowdie
From returning to old routines to adopting new ones, the start of a new school year brings its fair share of challenges and opportunities.
This is certainly true for families with children who have asthma.
“Many children with asthma are at high risk of having an asthma attack during back to school time,” said Dr. Sundeep Singh Bola, a paediatric respirologist at Markham Stouffville Hospital. “Children are once again in close quarters in classrooms, flu season, which brings respiratory viruses, is ramping up and as a result, we see an increase in respiratory illnesses that can trigger asthma attacks.
“As well, during the summer months when there’s not as much respiratory illness going around, asthma symptoms may be reduced and families may modify or become less compliant with their children’s asthma medication routine. So back to school time is also a period of adjusting back to regular medication routines.”
Bola explains that as asthma symptoms and triggers can vary from child to child, good communication with your doctor and school and having a clear asthma care plan in place is integral. It’s important to alert the school about what medications your child is able to administer on their own and what they may need help with.
For parents who may suspect that their child has asthma, Bola offers the following signs to look out for: shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing sound when exhaling, night-time cough or coughing triggered by cold air or exercising, frequent coughing when feeling well or when exposed to allergens such as animal dander, dust, pollens and mold.
Visit your doctor if you notice these symptoms in your child so they can diagnose if it is asthma or another respiratory illness.
Photo: MSH respiratory therapist Shivani Jadav uses a special teddy bear to help asthma patient Payton Walker learn to administer her asthma medication. Photo courtesy of Andrew Aggerholm.