British Columbia

Vancouver Island Health Authority expects spike in childhood asthma hospitalizations

According to Asthma Canada, asthmatic children experience an annual spike in hospital visits in September and experts say this could be exacerbated this year by the wildfire smoke in many parts of the province.

Common cold and wildfire smoke among causes for exacerbated asthma symptoms

According to Dr. Reid, smoke from wildfires could cause 'airway irritation, mucus secretion, cough, shortness of breath, chest tightness,' among other symptoms. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

The Vancouver Island Health Authority expects a spike in hospital visits in September due to childhood asthma.

The health authority says there are a number of factors that contribute to this annual back to school surge, including children getting out of the habit of using their inhalers, parents forgetting to renew prescriptions and asthmatic children in close contact with other kids who have the common cold.

"Proper hand hygiene is your child's best defence against colds, and colds are by far the greatest trigger for asthma-related illnesses," said Dr. John Reid in a statement from the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

According to the statement, 85 per cent of asthmatic events experienced by young children are triggered by the common cold.

With 162 wildfires still raging across much of the province and the hot, dry conditions continuing in many areas, Environment Canada says the air quality in the Victoria area is a high risk for individuals who have heart and lung disease.

Dr. Reid told All Points West host Jason D'Souza smoke is exacerbating the physiological symptoms of people with asthma.

"From a patient's perspective [it] is in many ways similar to an allergy or an infection, but it is just breathing in air that has got a pollutant and irritant," explained Dr. Reid.

Vancouver Island Health Authority says over 20,000 children are hospitalized with asthma annually across the country.

With files from All Points West.