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Health officials say monsoon causing spike in Arizona asthma attacks

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — An uptick in Arizona asthma attacks was blamed on the monsoon storms that have swept across the state in recent weeks.

“One to two days after a storm, we usually see an increase of patients both in the emergency room and admitted into the hospital for asthma attacks,” specialist Kimberly Byrne said Wednesday.

Byrne, the pediatric asthma program manager at Banner Children’s at Cardon Childrens Medical Center, said the large storms stir up irritants that can make it difficult for asthmatics to breathe.

“The mold and grass and pollen counts are increased because they become fractured or broken up into the air,” she said.

Byrne said children tend to be more affected by the storms than adults.

“Children breathe faster than adults, so they’re more likely to have respiratory symptoms after a storm,” she said.

The monsoon can affect children who have not displayed major signs of asthma for some time.

“Most of the parents tell me, ‘They’ve been fine,'” Byrne said. “They’ve gone months and months without asthma attacks and all of a sudden they just have a bad one.”

Byrne said parents should pay close attention to their children after a storm.

“If they start coughing or wheezing … or breathing faster, definitely call your doctor right away,” she said. “Especially if their albuterol or their inhaler doesn’t help them.”

Children could also be affected by the monsoon well after a storm has moved on.

“For about three to five days, the pollen counts go way up,” Byrne said.

KTAR News’ Bob McClay contributed to this report.

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