The latest data analysed by Asthma UK shows more than 3,550 children were admitted to hospital in England in September 2013. This is an increase of 6.3 per cent compared to the previous September; 73 per cent more compared to the monthly average (2,048); and a huge 293 per cent increase from the month before (903).
It is believed the ‘back to school’ peak is down to factors such as increases in colds and flu (known to trigger asthma symptoms in up to 90 per cent of people with asthma) and a lower resilience to asthma triggers amongst children whose medicine taking routine may have slipped over the summer.
Kay Boycott, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, says: ‘This data is really worrying. On average almost three children are admitted to hospital with an asthma attack every hour and almost 15 per cent of the total children’s admissions for the whole year come just from this peak in September. Asthma is the most common long-term medical condition affecting children and asthma attacks are a real warning sign that a child’s life could be at risk.
‘Tragically asthma attacks kill the equivalent of a classroom full of children every year in the UK, so it is vital that parents and carers of children with asthma do not become complacent about their child’s asthma. By downloading and using a written asthma action plan from our website you can look after your child’s asthma throughout the year and spot the signs that show your child’s asthma is getting worse. There is nothing more frightening than watching your child struggling to breathe and no parent wants to see their child admitted to hospital because of a preventable asthma attack.’
Leading parenting expert Jo Frost, most known for her hit televisions shows such as ‘Supernanny’ and ‘Family Matters’, has lived with asthma for most of her life. She has joined the charity as a celebrity ambassador to support Safer September: ‘I’ve had asthma since I was a child and so I know exactly what that ‘fighting for breath’ feels like. It can be absolutely terrifying for children this is why it is of absolute vital importance that parents download and use an asthma action plan to help stay on top and control their child’s asthma this September. It’s one small step that can make a really large difference to your child’s safety.’
Jo Frost’s tips for parents to get their children to take their asthma medicines
- Include the written asthma action plan in your child’s daily routine and teach them the importance of being responsible for their medical condition
- Ensure your child is given lots of encouragement and praise for their mindful effort throughout the day of managing their asthma
- It is of upmost importance that family and friends who may be looking after your child have a copy of their asthma action plan
Asthma UK’s Top Tips for a Safer September
- Make sure your child has a laminated written asthma action plan – if you don’t have one already you can download one from www.asthma.org.uk
- Fill your action plan in with your GP and make copies – keep one at home, give one to the school and keep a photo of it on your phone so you always have it with you
- Educated your child and their school in knowing the signs and symptoms of an asthma attack: wheezing, coughing (especially at night or in the morning), difficulty breathing and a tight, sore feeling in their chest (children often describe this as ‘chest hurting’ or ‘tummy ache’).
- Check your child’s school has a spare named reliever inhaler (usually blue) in case of emergencies.
- Make sure you know what to do if your child is having an asthma attack: www.asthma.org.uk/advice-asthma-attacks
Any concerned parents or carers can also call the Asthma UK Helpline to speak to the team of friendly expert nurses on 0300 222 5800 if they have any questions as well as tweet the charity using the hashtag #saferseptember.
Resources for children with asthma can be found here: http://www.asthma.org.uk/resources#ChildDownloads and includes the My Asthma Pack, complete with a calendar and stickers.