Q:If this is the most dangerous month for your asthma symptoms, you may want to read on. See how you can prepare yourself for the September asthma epidemic.

Studies show that asthma symptoms peak 17 days after Labor Day. This day has the highest number of hospitalizations and deaths due to asthma, a phenomenon known as "the September asthma epidemic." 

An estimated 90 percent of children with asthma have allergic asthma.  This means that exposure to allergens inflames airways, causing them to spasm and spark an asthma attack. For these kids, returning to school, and the subsequent exposure to allergens, can be dangerous. For example, classmates carry pet dander on their clothing. Airborne allergens such as leaf mold and ragweed pollen are prevalent. Additionally, kids now spend most time indoors after a summer of playing outside, thereby arising asthma symptoms. 

Parents can reduce symptoms by working with their family doctor to identify allergic triggers and create a customized asthma action plan to address symptom causes and ways to avoid allergens. Taking these steps in advance can help minimize the need for medication. 

Get tested. It is easiest to avoid allergens when you know what they are. Your pediatrician or primary care physician can administer a simple blood test to quickly and precisely determine allergic triggers. This information enables physicians to develop a focused, comprehensive allergy and asthma management plan for your child. 

Avoid allergens. The best way to prevent symptoms is to avoid the allergens causing them. Most indoor allergens, such as dust mites or pet dander, are easier to control than outdoor allergens, such as tree pollen or Bermuda grass. Take preventive steps such as frequent vacuuming, use of a HEPA filter, creation of a "safe sleep zone" where pets cannot venture, and the removal of carpeting and draperies from the bedroom. 

Stock up. Make sure that your child has all her asthma medications, including a rescue inhaler to bring to school.  All 50 states now permit students to carry asthma inhalers into the classroom, an initiative spearheaded by the Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics. 

By taking these steps to prepare for the September Asthma Epidemic, you and your child will have a happier, healthier back-to-school season. 

Rob Reinhardt, M.D., is currently the Senior Director Medical and Regulatory Affairs and Quality Management at Phadia, U.S. Inc, the makers of ImmunoCAP testing. He is also Associate Professor at Michigan State University. Dr. Reinhardt is a graduate of the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and the Brown University Family Practice Residency. www.isitallergy.com