Back-to-school asthma flare-ups

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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Back to school means books, homework, and for some, asthma flare-ups. Asthma is the leading cause of chronic illness in children, affecting as many as 10 to 12 percent of kids in the United States.

"In every part of the world, the peak of asthma in children corresponds to the week 1 to 2 weeks after they go back to school," explained Dr. Giovanni Piedimonte, a respiratory expert at Cleveland Clinic Children's.

Asthma is the leading reason for missed school days, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Piedimonte says approximately 85-percent of worsening asthma symptoms are triggered by viruses.

Most of the viruses that trigger asthma tend to appear in the fall and winter. Piedimonte says viruses like respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, and rhinovirus tend to be most common at the end of summer and beginning of fall.
Germs spread easily when kids are in close quarters, creating a perfect storm for asthma problems.

"A bunch of kids go back to school, they're incubating viruses, they start touching each other, they get sick, they get a cold, the cold triggers asthma in the ones that are predisposed," Piedimonte added.

Flu season is just around the corner and the flu, a respiratory illness, is a common asthma trigger that has potentially serious complications. It's recommended that everyone over 6 months old get vaccinated against the flu, especially if a child has asthma.

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