Josephine Melendez is vigilant when it comes to controlling her daughter Valerie's asthma. She makes sure she always has her inhaler. The four-year-old sometimes needs a nebulizer treatment before school to keep her asthma in check, too. "Literally 24 hours around the clock I'm monitoring her."

For Josephine and many parents, September can be a month of anxiety with kids back in the classroom. A recent study shows increases in pediatric asthma attacks and doctor visits during this month. Dr. Purvi Parikh is with the Allergy & Asthma Network, which is a non-profit organization whose mission is to end death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions through outreach, education, advocacy and research. She says in many parts of the country they are seeing a relatively new allergen in the air called ragweed pollen “and that triggers a lot of asthma attacks in children and on top of that there's a surge in viruses."

Dr. Parikh says it is critical parents look for warning signs and symptoms. “Typical symptoms of an asthma attack are coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain." She also says it is important for parents to have an asthma action plan with the school so teachers know the signs and how to react.

Josephine says she tries to keep Valerie aware, too, so that she knows how to manage her own condition. "She actually tells me, ‘Mommy my inhaler, Mommy I need my medicine.'" 

According to Allergy & Asthma Associates in Reno, the pollen count for sagebrush, rabbit brush and tumbleweed are high right now in Northern Nevada, which could contribute to an asthma flare-up.

Allergy & Asthma Associates tests the pollen count once or twice a week until the first hard freeze of the colder season. To see the weekly reports for yourself, click on: