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Asthma is the most common chronic childhood illness, with 10.5 million school days missed each year in the US alone. According to Asthma & Allergy Network, 25% of all asthma-related hospitalisations in children occur in September.1 Exacerbations spike almost as soon as the month begins and don’t reduce until the middle of October.
The return to school exposes children to multiple allergens, from indoor mold and pet hair to pollutants from the school bus. Group are mixing in large numbers again, circulating colds and flu. The anxiety and stress of the new school year can also provoke symptoms. The summer holidays are traditionally a time when medication is neglected but if children don’t keep up their treatment, they’re more at risk from these sudden triggers in September.
To make sure patients are prepared, it might be timely to send a reminder to encourage them to take their medication as prescribed and avoid triggers through the holiday season. Asthma & Allergy Network offers 10 tips to help encourage patients and families to reduce the risk:
Routine is key. “Keep an inhaler next to your toothbrush!” one expert said. It’s about managing asthma for the long term and teaching children a good every-day routine to help them gain – and maintain – control over their condition.1
The main goal is to keep airway inflammation down to reduce the risk of exacerbations. Infections such as colds and flu, and other common triggers in the September peak, can all contribute to asthma flare-ups. Scheduling a check-up and checking a patient’s level of inflammation is simple but could make all the difference.
Clinicians can assess airway inflammation using fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) testing. A FeNO value of >35 ppb in a child shows that airway inflammation is likely.2 Using FeNO-guided asthma management to optimise therapy and adherence has been shown to reduce exacerbations by up to 50%.3 FeNO testing can be performed easily at the point-of-care in patients from the age of seven with a hand-held device like the NIOX VERO®. Results are available in less than two minutes, so clinicians can take immediate action.
Learn more about the gold standard FeNO device.
2. Dweik RA et al. An official ATS clinical practice guideline: interpretation of exhaled nitric oxide levels (FeNO) for clinical applications. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011;184(5):602-15.
3. Petsky HL et al. Tailoring asthma treatment on eosinophilic markers (exhaled nitric oxide or sputum eosinophils): a systematic review and meta-analysis. Thorax. 2018;73(12):1110-9.