By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than 6 million children and teens suffer with Asthma in the US, and this week is known as “Asthma Peak Week.” It’s a time when levels of germs and irritants are high for school kids and families can get lax about using medications.
Allergies make Asthma more difficult, and in Philadelphia today, ragweed is very high.
Josephine Melendez is vigilant when it comes to controlling her daughter Valarie’s Asthma, making sure she always has her inhaler. The four-year-old sometimes needs a Nebulizer treatment before school to keep her Asthma in check.
“Literally 24 hours around the clock I’m monitoring her,” her Melendez explained.
For Josephine and many parents, September can be a month of anxiety with kids back in the classroom. A recent study shows increases in pediatric Asthma attacks and doctor visits during this month.
“As they’re going back to school, there’s a new allergen in the air called ragweed pollen and that triggers a lot of Asthma attacks in children, and on top of that there’s a surge in viruses,” explained Dr. Puryi Parikh from the Allergy and Asthma Network.
Doctors say it’s important parents look for warning signs and symptoms, and make sure kids use inhalers when necessary.
“Typical symptoms of an Asthma attack are coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pain,” Dr. Parikh added. She also says it’s important parents have an Asthma action plan with the school so teachers know the signs and how to react.
Asthma flare-ups can mean many missed school days for kids, something Melendez is trying to avoid.
“She actually tells me mommy, my inhaler, mommy I need my medicine.”
Philadelphia has one of the highest rates of childhood Asthma in the country. Doctors say the biggest problem is parents often not keeping up with medications and treatments, which allows the Asthma to get especially bad.