First of all, what IS the September Epidemic?
Well, most parents worry about kids getting sick during cold and flu season (winter). It seems to make sense that winter is the most likely time to get sick and end up in the hospital.
But - it's actually September! Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American (AAFA), says:
"There is a September asthma hospitalization “epidemic.” Many more people are hospitalized for asthma shortly after school starts than at any other time of the year. The number of asthma hospitalizations peak first for school-age children, then preschool children, then adults."
For those of you with school aged kids, that probably makes sense. I can remember being room parent for many years and helping out in my kid's classrooms. And the hygiene (or lack of) was shocking. I saw plenty of kids sneezing without covering their nose, coughing all over on their seatmate, and wiping their nose on their sleeve.
That's how my kids would get sick, then their little brother or sister would get sick, then the Hubby and I would get sick. No matter how carefully I wiped down counters and door knobs, and no matter how often we washed our hands, we still picked up germs.
The problem is that you can't control what goes on in school, especially when you have over 1,000 kids in a school. And they come to school with a cold because "Hey - it's just a cold, what's the big deal?"
Well, the big deal is that with asthma, a cold isn't "just a cold" - it can easily morph into bronchitis or pneumonia. Which for our family means another hospitalization.
So, what do you do? Short of coating everything with hand sanitizer?
There are some things we have found helpful when my kids were little. They are:
- Make sure you stay on your daily, controller inhaler (this will keep the swelling down in your lungs)
- Make sure each kid has their own rescue inhaler
- Wash your hands (you should wash them for 20 seconds.) Wash them after you use the bathroom (seems obvious but you wouldn't believe how many people I see walk out of bathrooms without washing their hands.) Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.
- Open the bathroom door with a paper towel (to protect yourself from those people who don't wash their hands and then touch the handle....ugh!)
- Sneeze into a tissue or your elbow (so you don't spread germs on everyone else).
- Keep pop up hand wipes in the car to sanitize your hands after shopping
Keep an eye on your child if they get sick. They can go from bad to worse very quickly. Nemours Hospital has a webpage that lets parents know "When to Go to the ER If Your Child Has Asthma".
So, stock up on hand sanitizer and tissues and let school begin!