SUNDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Children with asthma are at
greater risk for flare-ups in the fall because of airborne ragweed
and mold spores, as well as the flu and other seasonal infections,
Such flare-ups are marked by inflammation, swelling and
tightening of the airways, resulting in wheezing, coughing and
difficulty breathing. But, fortunately, it's possible to stave off
these attacks, according to experts at the Johns Hopkins Children's
"Year after year, we see a predictable spike in patient visits for asthma exacerbations in fall and winter, but many of these visits could be easily avoided with simple prevention," Dr. Robert Wood, director of allergy & immunology at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, said in a Hopkins news release.
Nearly 6.3 million children in the United States have asthma,
making it the most common childhood chronic illness. However, the
Hopkins experts said three key steps could help prevent flare-ups
in these children:
- Getting a flu shot. The flu and other respiratory infections
can cause serious complications in children with asthma and other
chronic conditions. The flu vaccine can prevent infections and
minimize complications from the virus.
- Avoiding asthma triggers. The best way to avoid asthma attacks
is to avoid the triggers that cause them, including airborne
allergens, cockroach and mouse allergens, industrial smog,
household chemicals and bacterial and viral infections.
- Using controller medications regularly. Children who experience
asthma symptoms two or more times each week benefit from the
regular use of controller medications, which suppress airway
inflammation and prevent flare-ups.
"Over the summer, many patients have fewer asthma symptoms and cut down on their controller meds, but for most kids, symptoms will return with the change of season, so reverting to their regular drug regimens is critical," added Dr. Elizabeth Matsui, a pediatric allergist and immunologist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, in the release.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides
additional tips on how to