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Back to school time triggers asthma problem

Wednesday August 11th, 2010

Newly published figures suggest that asthma rates increase dramatically in the month of September when the new school year begins.

The figures, released by the NHS Information Centre, show that hospital admissions for asthma among children were 58 per cent higher in September 2009 than in the average month.

A rise was also seen in September 2008 - a 102 per cent increase compared to the average month. In both years, hospitalisation was particularly high among children aged five and under.

Tim Straughan of the NHS Information Centre said: "Although provisional, these figures provide a useful insight at a national level into the admissions passing through our hospital doors in England, and also into possible shifts in trend during the different seasons.

"These figures appear to highlight September as a hotspot for asthma admissions among our very young children, which may prompt possible investigation as to why this may be."

In both September 2008 and 2009, the rise was seen in children but not in adults. This suggests a role for back-to-school viruses such as the common cold and flu, which can cause asthma symptoms in people with or without asthma, and be passed to younger siblings.

Viruses can cause coughing and wheezing in people who have no history of asthma, and worsen the symptoms in those who already have persistent asthma.

This is because the body responds to viral infections by triggering an inflammatory response that can cause swelling and increased sensitivity of the airways. Substances produced by infected cells in the upper airway can then affect the lower airway and lead to breathlessness.

Ways to avoid catching a viral infection include frequent hand washing and attention to hygiene, and having the flu vaccine.

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Child Health | UK News

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