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Beware of the September epidemic...

September 6, 2013 | marietta forster-haberer | Comments (0)

Asthma Ever wonder why there is a spike in asthma cases during the first weeks of the school year? It's been even called the September epidemic because it occurs every year in September just after school starts.

So what's the connection between asthma and the start of the school year? As most parents know all too well, children returning to school are prone to colds. And since the common cold or rhinovirus is a known asthma trigger it is not surprising that there is a sharp increase in asthma cases at the beginning of the school year.

While asthma is a serious condition it can be well controlled and children with asthma can lead a normal life. Consult your child's doctor, your child's teacher, The Asthma Society of Canada and The Lung Association's Asthma Action Helpline for information on asthma in children or check out one of the books on childhood asthma from the library.

  Allergies and asthma - what every parent needs to know  100 questions & answers about your child's asthma  The everything parent's guide to children with asthma - professional advice to help your child manage symptoms, be more active, and breathe better  Why can't I breathe - Kids & asthma





Second-hand smoke: Should parents of children with asthma be concerned?

January 22, 2009 | | Comments (1)

Yes, parents of children who have asthma should be very concerned about second-hand smoke.  Every year, between 12,000 and 15,000 children suffer from asthma because of exposure to second-hand smoke in homes, cars, and hotels or motels. (source).  Second-hand smoke is a serious health hazard and there is no safe level of exposure to it. Photo: Turky Al-Fassam. Used with permission. (CC Attribution license)

What is second-hand smoke?

Second-hand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is a combination of mainstream smoke (smoke exhaled from a smoker) and sidestream smoke (smoke from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe). (source).  What is surprising to many people, is that second-hand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, more than 50 of which cause cancer (source).

How second-hand smoke affects children with asthma

In general, children are more affected by second-hand smoke because their lungs and immune systems are still developing.  When a child lives in a home where even one person is a smoker, he or she has more respiratory problems and infections that often last longer and are more severe.  The more people there are who smoke in a particular home, the more severe are the respiratory problems for the child living there. 

For children with asthma, second-hand smoke is very dangerous.  It affects the muscles around the airways, causing difficulty in breathing. (source).  These children experience:

In fact, any children living in households with smokers are at risk for: 

So never forget that second-hand smoke is dangerous, especially for children with asthma.  You should be concerned.

Glynis Sheppard for Consumer Health Information Service, Toronto Public Library

Further reading

Toronto Public Library. Consumer Health Information Service. Asthma wiki

Ontario Lung Association.

Canadian Lung Association. Smoking & tobacco.

Mayo Clinic. Secondhand smoke: Avoid dangers in the air you breathe. (March 8, 2008)  

British Columbia. BC Health Files: The harmful effects of second-hand smoke (August 2005)  

Canadian Cancer Society.

The Hospital for Sick Children. Tobacco smoke and children with asthma. (reviewed June 21, 2004)  

Health Canada.

Peel Public Health. Secondhand smoke… Is it dangerous? (July 2007)  

Toronto Public Health. How does the smoke know where to stop? (undated)  

Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada. Cigarette smoke & kids’ health (revised January 6, 2008)  

Grey Bruce Public Health Unit. Second-hand smoke – It’s a chemical soup (undated)  

Nemours Foundation (U.S.). KidsHealth: Smoking and asthma (reviewed June 2007)  

American Cancer Society. Secondhand smoke (reviewed October 15, 2008)  

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Asthma: Secondhand smoke (updated February 19, 2008)  

Fall: Asthma season?

September 23, 2008 | | Comments (0)

Ever wondered why there is a spike in asthma cases during the fall — some even call it the September epidemic — during the first weeks of the school year?

According to a Canadian study, "the great majority of asthma exacerbations in children coincide with rhinovirus infections, which are most common during September and October".  Children returning to school are prone to colds, which they pass on to their pre-school siblings and their adult caregivers. Respiratory viral infections (a.k.a. common colds) are known asthma triggers, accounting for the sharp increase in asthma cases in the fall.

For more information on asthma, come to CHIS'  Asthma Fair  (September 29) or visit our asthma wiki.

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