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CHKD Blog

A small boy suffering from illness bronchial asthma getting treatment with aerosol inhaler.

Spring Allergies Collide with Easing of Pandemic Restrictions

Author: Children's Specialty Group, Dr. Cynthia Kelly
Published Date: Thursday, March 25, 2021

By Dr. Cynthia Kelly, Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

Virtual learning and pandemic restrictions brought both the good and the bad to our patients who suffer from asthma and allergies. There were fewer asthma flare-ups because kids were home more, but unfortunately that caused some to relax their medication routines, too.

The number of asthma-related hospitalizations and visits to our emergency department declined during the first part of the pandemic, probably because many kids going to virtual school weren’t exposed to as many asthma triggers like outdoor pollen, mold, and pollution.

Social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand-washing reduced exposure to infections that also cause asthma attacks.

Exercise can also trigger asthma symptoms, and during the pandemic, children weren’t playing outside as much and many sports activities were postponed.

Unfortunately, some children who had fewer asthma symptoms stopped using their medications. That makes sense for quick-relief meds since they were having fewer asthma episodes, but is a terrible idea for “controller” meds that reduce inflammation to prevent asthma attacks over the long run.

Now more children are returning to school, right at the time when spring pollens are in the air. Families are also venturing out more because of warm weather, increased COVID-19 vaccination, and easing of pandemic restrictions.

It’s created a perfect storm for some kids living with asthma. Some had quit taking their medications, which puts them at higher risk of having a severe attack.

We want to remind our families that asthma can be a deadly condition and that 10 Americans die every day from asthma. Asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization for children younger than 15.

Children and their families need to be diligent in taking their controller medications, avoiding triggers, and continuing with COVID-19 protection measures as restrictions ease, and families spend more time out in the world.

Tips:

  • Make sure your asthma prescriptions are up to date, and make sure both quick-relief medications and controller meds are used as prescribed.
  • Follow social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand-washing measures. Those with poorly controlled asthma are at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19.
  • Create an “asthma action plan” with your child’s healthcare provider that includes how to treat asthma daily, what to do if symptoms worsen, and how to handle situations such as exercise or viral infections. This plan should be reviewed regularly with your healthcare provider.
  • Don’t go to school in person if you’re sick.


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About Children's Specialty Group

About Children's  Specialty Group Children's Specialty Group is the only pediatric multi-specialty practice serving southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. The physicians of Children's Specialty Group base their practices at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters and serve as faculty in the Department of Pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Learn more about our specialists here.