Q. My 12-year-old son is one of the kids whose asthma peaks on the return to school. He’s fine in the summer, then back to school – and, wham, he’s got colds, and wheezing or coughing at night. Any recommendations on how to prevent a sequel this fall?
Dr. Waserman: What you are describing is a common occurrence called the “September peak”. This was the subject of an important study in which Canadian researchers showed an increase in emergency department visits, hospital admissions and doctor visits for childhood asthma in September, all related to the return to school.
The common cold virus, called rhinovirus, is likely the major trigger. Also, the low use of asthma medications during the summer months likely contributes to the problem. Might this be so in your son’s case?
The good news is that the research also showed that the addition of an effective asthma controller medication before the start of school appeared to prevent this. In the study Montelukast (Singulair) was prescribed, speak to your doctor about what’s best to use for your son and whether his asthma action plan might need an adjustment.
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Dr. Susan Waserman is an allergist and Professor of Medicine in the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. She is also a past president of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.Submit a Question View all posts by this medical expert.