The number of children hospitalised due to asthma upon their return to school has spiked, prompting a warning for parents, caregivers and schools to be prepared.
Teresa Demetriou from the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ says, “Asthma attacks are particularly common for children when going back to school, especially following the long summer holiday,”
Studies show that viral infections are likely to be the main cause in the spike of asthma hospitalisations. Other causes include less strict asthma management over the holidays, a change of environment with greater exposure to allergens, and a change in emotions such as stress and anxiety.
Parents are being urged to take preventative measures.
“The best thing to do is be as prepared as possible. Asthma Action Plans need to be provided to schools along with updated emergency contact details. Children need to be taking their preventer medication as prescribed if they have one, and bring their reliever inhaler to school.
Make sure your child knows what their triggers are so they can do their best to avoid them. It’s important to reduce exposure to germs, which includes washing hands with soap as needed. We also highly recommend all families with asthma to get their flu vaccination in March,” says Demetriou.
In 2013, there were 3730 hospitalisations for children in New Zealand under the age of 15 years old.