NHS England has issued a warning to parents as “asthma season” hits, as children are up to three times more likely to need medical help for the condition as the school year starts.
The organisation is calling on parents to keep their children’s asthma medicine close at hand, announcing that one in ten young people has the disorder.
The warning comes as last year there were 25,128 cases of under-16s going to hospital with asthma, while recent analysis published by Public Health England (PHE) found that GP appointments for children with asthma increase this month.
At this time of year cases can more than double, with boys more likely to need help, while the total number of emergency hospital admissions for asthma typically jumps between August and September from around 3,500 to more than 6,000.
The NHS cites the combination of coughs and colds circulating, children getting out of the habit of using inhalers during the summer break, air pollution and the stress of term starting as potential contributions to the sudden spike in cases.
Jacqueline Cornish, national clinical director, Children and Young People and Transition to Adulthood, NHS England said: “Millions of families know that asthma can bring stress and trauma, but simple common sense measures like taking medicines at the right time, giving children a spare puffer to take to school and checking in with a pharmacist for inhaler checks, can help parents manage the annual onset of ‘asthma season’ and go a long way to helping keep your child well and out of hospital.”
She continued to say that the NHS Long Term Plan “sets out a package of measures to identify and treat this common but potentially lethal condition, but the health service cannot meet this challenge alone and needs parents, carers and schools to help reduce the likelihood of avoidable asthma attacks this month, while in the long term the whole of society has to crack down on the scourge of air pollution, which contributes to thousands of illnesses and hospital trips every year.”
Asthma is a lung condition causing breathing difficulties, which can occur randomly or after exposure to a trigger like pollen, pollution, smoke, infections, colds and flu, and is among the issues being targeted by a new Children and Young People Transformation programme, a major new initiative from the NHS, working across the health service and with families to address the biggest challenges to the health of young people.