PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Ever heard of the “September Spike?”

Every year, it happens around the third week of September. It’s when cases of asthma increase in local schools.

They say beware the Ides of March, but really, beware the third week of September – the time of year when hospital admissions for asthma spike.

September is a month the Duran family of Robinson Township dreads. Connor Duran has asthma, and that makes playing football tough.

“I got a big head cold, making it very hard to breathe,” says Connor.

“Once he gets that cold it turns into a bad attack,” said Karen Duran, Connor’s mom. “Last September, he was on like three or four doses of antibiotics, a lot of different inhalers, and like three sets of prednisone.”

“On a typical day in June, I might have 10 people coming in because their asthma is exacerbated. In mid-September, I probably have in that same period of time, about 25 coming in with asthma flared up,” said Dr. David Skoner, an asthma specialist at Allegheny General Hospital. “Probably the leading factor would be virus infections.”

As kids return to school, cold viruses get passed around the classroom. The common cold is a common trigger for a flare up of asthma.

“Really, pretty specifically, in the third week is when a lot of this activity happens. This was reproduced over a period of 10 to 15 years,” said Dr. Skoner. “So, it’s real; it’s reproducible and it’s there.”

Other potential factors include allergies, pollution and stress.

“They’re getting bombarded with viruses; they’re getting bombarded with allergens, and that collision might result in a lot of problems in that third week,” he added.

Keeping away from people who are sick, washing your hands often, and making back-to-school as stress-free as possible can help reduce the chances of an asthma flare.

Another way to prevent a worsening of symptoms is to not forget your controller medicines. A lot of kids stop in the summer when their symptoms are better, but don’t forget to start up again in August, weeks ahead of the September spike.

Allegheny General Hospital
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