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Cold weather brings higher risks for kids with asthma

26 May 2016

Asthma risks are set to soar for kids this winter warns the National Asthma Council Australia as even a simple cold can trigger a life threatening asthma attack. 

The latest statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that hospitalisations for children with asthma peak in late autumn and early winter.

This increase is due to the drop in temperatures and an increase in cases of the flu and colds, both of which are triggers for asthma flare-ups.

Dr Jonathan Burdon AM, Chair of the National Asthma Council Australia and respiratory physician, said that changing weather is always a danger sign and that the colder months see increases in doctor visits and hospital admissions for children with asthma.

“As a parent, there is nothing more terrifying than seeing your child not be able to breathe. This is especially so for those with younger children who can't always verbalise what they may be feeling.

“With asthma, the lungs are already sensitive so any virus that impacts the lungs will create more problems, including bringing on an asthma flare-up faster and easier than many people realise. “

Children with asthma are one of the largest patient groups who need to see a doctor particularly during winter.

As the most common chronic childhood illness (one in every 10 children in Australia) asthma impacts on the quality of life for many children and their families. Missed school days, postponed holidays and cancelled sports events are all challenges that children with asthma face.

“To help stay safe and healthy it is important to take control of asthma in winter before problems occur,” said Dr Burdon.

“But if your child does start to get asthma symptoms like cough, wheeze or breathlessness, act quickly to stop things developing into a serious flare-up or attack. Follow your child’s asthma action plan and see your doctor if you need to. Remember that antibiotics don’t work on viruses like the common cold.”

There are things families can do to help children with asthma get through this time of year. The National Asthma Council Australia offers the following tips:

  • See your child’s doctor for an asthma review before the cold and flu season arrives.
  • Update and follow your child’s asthma action plan.
  • Make sure your child is taking their preventer medicine every day, if prescribed.
  • Ask your doctor about having the flu vaccination.
  • Wash hands diligently to help prevent germs spreading.
  • Keep your child’s reliever puffer and spacer handy.

For more information, visit the National Asthma Council Australia website: