1. What is the “September Spike” in asthma symptoms and what causes it?
The “September Spike is the rise in hospital visits for asthma that occurs consistently from year to year in September. This spike has occurred for at least the last decade in Canada and several other countries including the United Kingdom, United States amongst others. The exact cause is unknown, but scientists think it is due to a combination of factors, including viral infections, fall outdoor allergens, indoor allergens found in the school environment, increased traffic-related air pollution and a decrease in inhaled corticosteroid use over the summer months. Most evidence points to viral infections (colds, flu, etc) being the likely cause, and not taking inhaled corticosteroid regularly over the summer as a major risk factor.
2. Is there any new research on the September spike?
Interestingly, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March 2011 showed that the September asthma spike could be avoided in inner city American children if they received treatment with omalizumab, an anti-IgE monoclonal antibody which could decrease the allergic inflammatory component of asthma.
3. What can parents of children with asthma do to help prevent flare-ups?
Make sure asthma is controlled. Refill medications. Visit your health-care provider in August. Make sure they have an asthma action plan. If your child doesn’t have an asthma action plan make sure you talk to your health-care provider.
4. What should parents tell teachers and/or daycare providers?
Parents should tell them if their child has asthma and/or allergies. They should also tell them about the symptoms that their child typically experiences when asthma is worsening. And they should provide the school with their child’s action plan and any medications necessary for action plan.