ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The official start of fall is just a few days away.

With the cooler weather and leaves changing color, it also means flu season. In fact, “Peak Week” is actually taking place right now.

It is from September 15-21, the time of year when summer ends and autumn begins. It is also when asthma attacks and hospitalizations are at their highest, as well as when many people experience cold and flu symtpoms.

“Things such as cough, shortness of breath, wheezing. These are some of the common symptoms that may unfold during this time frame.,” said Dr. Juanbosco Ayala, a pulmonologist with OSF HealthCare.

Kids are back in school and viruses begin to circulate in the workplace as cooler temperatures start to become more consistent, which can mean increased sickness. It is important for people to protect themselves and keep their immune systems healthy.

“Having the flu vaccine, that definitely is a big one, but day-to-day things is just recognizing things, such as, ‘how is my breathing changing? Is it related to temperature changes or is it something a little bit worse,'” Ayala said.

Allergies are not just a springtime occurrence. They come during the transition into fall as well.

“We definitely still see patients with some degree of allergies,” Ayala said. “We don’t see it as bad as this spring, but we definitely do see it’s still present.”

People who have preexisting conditions, such as asthma or lung disease, should be extra careful while breathing in the autumn air. Having a cold or flu might affect them differently.

“Patients that have chronic lung diseases, especially asthmatics or patients with emphysema, COPD, we notice that some of their symptoms may come to the forefront with this change in weather,” Ayala said.

Residents who have asthma should carry their inhaler. It is easy for them to go bad without realizing since they only use it as needed. They should also check the expiration date and get their prescription renewed if needed.