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September spike in asthma cases prompts Alberta Health Services to issue reminder to parents

Alberta Health Services reminds parents about September spike in asthma cases
WATCH: Health experts say emergency room visits spike about two weeks into the new school year due to children suffering from asthma flare-ups. As Tracy Nagai reports, there are ways to keep a child’s asthma in check.

With students returning to school, Alberta Health Services is reminding parents of the risks to children who have asthma.

“Generally, about two weeks after the start of the school year, we see the September spike — we call it — for asthma,” Dr. Mary Noseworthy with the Alberta Children’s Hospital said.

“It’s the perfect storm for kids back in school and in enclosed environments.”

AHS said that in September, hospitals and emergency departments across North America experience a spike in asthma visits and admissions and there’s several factors that can trigger an asthma flare-up.

“It’s the start of the flu season, [and] quite often… environmental changes and allergens are also a concern this time of year,” Noseworthy said.

READ MORE: The September asthma peak is approaching. Here’s what parents need to know

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AHS said other causes for the seasonal increase in asthma can include poor asthma management during the summer months, seasonable holiday and summer breaks from asthma medications, as well as stress from going back to school.

For children who haven’t been diagnosed with asthma, there are signs to watch out for.

“Any symptoms of a cold that result in coughing or wheezing, respiratory distress, shortness of breath, if their nostrils are flaring in and out,” Noseworthy said. “If there’s any sucking in of the skin at the base of the neck, and if the skin between the ribs is retracting in and out, those are signs of respiratory distress.”

READ MORE: U of C researchers discover new way to treat asthma attacks

According to AHS, many asthma-related hospital visits and admissions can be controlled with proper asthma management, including taking medication as prescribed, knowing a child’s triggers and getting vaccinated against the seasonal flu.