The RCGP has responded to findings published in the BMJ linking ‘back to school asthma’ with an increase in health service appointments.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:
“Asthma is an extremely distressing condition affecting one in 11 children, but in the majority of cases can be well-managed by parents with the support of GPs and our teams who are highly trained to identify symptoms, prescribe appropriately and monitor treatment to help patients of all ages.
“Part of keeping symptoms under control and preventing asthma attacks can be identifying and avoiding potential ‘triggers’ such as cigarette smoke, pets or alcohol. But other triggers like pollen, pollution, and very cold or very hot weather are much harder, if not impossible, to control.
“As this report highlights, some children find the start of the new school term an anxious time which could set off an attack in some vulnerable individuals, and there are clearly other factors at work that are not yet fully understood. So, it is crucial that schools are aware of the pupils who have asthma, and that there are adequate steps in place to support them including knowing when it is appropriate to summon additional medical assistance.
“When a child has asthma, it is important to follow the treatment plan agreed with medical professionals and never ignore symptoms if there are changes or the asthma is getting worse. Keep an eye on your child’s weight, help them stay active, and ensure they carry their inhaler with them at all times.
“While attacks can never be completely predicted or prevented, making sure that the action plan is up-to-date is one of the best ways to reduce the risk.
“If there’s anything non-urgent about your child’s asthma that’s worrying you, this can be discussed at your child’s next routine GP appointment where any changes can be made to medication or the treatment plan and inhaler technique can be reviewed.”