The third week of September is Asthma Peak Week in the United States. In addition to avoiding triggers, there are steps you can take to prevent or reduce asthma symptoms during the peak.
Your asthma may worsen at certain times of the year, depending on your environment and triggers. If you find that asthma is worse for you or your loved ones in the fall, many health organizations would agree.
Read on to learn more about how to prepare for Asthma Peak Week and reduce your risk of an asthma exacerbation.
Experts and organizations in many countries in the northern hemisphere consider the third week of September to be “Asthma Peak Week.” Some experts place the peak more precisely as the
Organizations like the American Lung Association say that’s when asthma attacks and hospitalizations increase the most.
Reasons for this September spike include:
- It’s the height of ragweed season. Ragweed is the most common fall allergy.
- Flu season is beginning.
- Children returning to school encounter more respiratory viruses like colds and the flu. They can transmit these viruses to family members.
- Kids may attend schools in aging buildings with poor air quality, mold, or other asthma triggers.
- There’s more air pollution from school buses.
- Children and young adults may come across smoking and vaping on campus.
- Stress and anxiety, which can worsen asthma, tend to increase during the transition into a new school year.
Asthma Peak Week stats and facts
- One-quarter of all children’s hospital visits for asthma occur in September.
- Hospitalizations for asthma peak about 18 days after Labor Day for school-aged children and about 2 days later for preschoolers.
- Peak Week hospitalizations have decreased by
more than 50%since 2005, possibly due to advocacy and people taking steps to prepare.
Indoor allergens like dirt, mold, or pollen can fill your home with triggers.
Here are some tips that can help when pollen is high, such as in September.
Some everyday ways you can cut down on your triggers include:
- Keep windows and doors shut during high-pollen times of the year, including Peak Week.
- Ask everyone to take their shoes off before coming inside.
- Keep your hair covered outside.
- Shower and wash your hair before bed.
- Use a HEPA filter in your HVAC system.
- Pay attention to air quality reports if pollution or smoke triggers your attacks.
- Avoid other asthma triggers.
Everyone’s asthma triggers are different. You can make changes at home to reduce your known triggers, depending on what they are. Here are some examples:
- Tobacco: Declare your home smoke- and vape-free. If you smoke, seek support to quit. If someone you love does, encourage them to stop, too. Do your best to ensure no one smokes near you or in any place you spend a lot of time.
- Dust mites: Dust mites thrive in humid environments, so keep humidity low (around
30–50%). Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter regularly on floors, rugs, and carpets, and wash and dry your bedding thoroughly.
- Pests: Store food and trash in sealed containers. Clean dishes and food messes right away. Use pesticides as directed, but avoid foggers, as they can trigger attacks.
- Mold: Dry wet items promptly and properly, and consider using a dehumidifier. Fix water leaks, which can allow mold to grow in hidden places. Avoid harsh cleaners as they can trigger an attack.
Beyond the home, there’s a lot you can do to avoid triggers and prevent asthma attacks. Some tips include:
- Have an asthma action plan and take your medications as prescribed.
- Get your annual flu shot at least 2 weeks before flu season. September is a good time.
- Wash your hands often.
- Stay away from people who are sick when possible.
- Wear a mask.
- Consider a nasal saline rinse.
- Work with an allergist to keep your asthma symptoms managed.
- Keep your stress down.
- Sleep and eat well, and drink plenty of water.
- Consider a pneumococcal vaccine, especially for children younger than age 5, adults older than age 65, and those with asthma treated with prolonged high dose oral corticosteroid therapy.
See a healthcare professional regularly to help manage your asthma and triggers.
Here are some answers to common questions about Asthma Peak Week.
When is asthma the worst?
In addition to September’s Peak Week, there are other times of the year when you’re more likely to have asthma attacks.
Weather often plays a role. So does climate change, which creates severe weather and higher temperatures, increasing allergens such as mold and pollen.
According to the AAFA, weather triggers may include extreme heat or cold, thunderstorms or rain, high humidity, and sudden weather changes.
What are the worst places for asthma?
The AAFA released a 2021 report showing the most challenging cities in the country to live with asthma. Researchers based the rankings on the percentage of the population with asthma, asthma emergency room visits, and deaths.
The report found “asthma belts” in the Northeast Mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley regions.
What’s the best climate for asthma?
The same AAFA report, which evaluated 100 metropolitan regions, also identified the best places to live with asthma. Most were in the Southwest, with a few notable cities in California and Minnesota.
Experts see increased asthma attacks, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations during Asthma Peak Week in the third week of September. Higher pollen counts, children returning to school, and weather changes drive the increase. So does the start of flu season.
Tips for coping include carefully managing your asthma, having an asthma action plan, and getting vaccinated. It’s also good to practice healthy habits like handwashing and minimizing contact with allergens and triggers.