Pediatric HealthSource: Asthma and Sports

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Q: My son is nervous about playing football this season because of his asthma. How can I make sure my son feels confident on the field without worrying about having an attack?

A: As fall sports get into full swing, some parents and young athletes believe such activities are off-limits when trying to avoid asthma triggers. On the contrary, pediatricians actually encourage patients with asthma to participate in physical activity. Getting regular exercise is one of the best things children can do for their lungs, and by working with their pediatrician, they can address possible triggers and discuss treatment options.

There are steps parents can take to ensure their young athlete has a healthy, successful season. A common course of treatment is the use of a short-acting inhaler at least 15 to 20 minutes before exercise. To prevent asthma problems during play, athletes should warm up thoroughly before participating in strenuous activities.

In the game, athletes shouldn't be reluctant to either use their inhaler or remove themselves from play if symptoms occur. Too often, children are embarrassed about how their coaches and teammates may feel if they stop to catch a breath. What they don't realize is they won't play to their full potential unless they follow their doctor's orders.

By addressing signs and symptoms of asthma and discussing preventable measures with their pediatrician, parents can feel confident their child will do his or her best without worrying about their health opponent.

Always consult your child's pediatrician concerning your child's health.

For more pediatric health news parents can use, visit our blog:

David Stukus, M.D., is an allergy and immunology physician at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Tip of the Month

Using an Inhaler

If your child uses an inhaler, it's important that they use a spacer, too. Parents should know:

  • Spacers get medicine where it needs to be. They prevent it from ending up inside the mouth or stomach. A spacer fits on the end of an inhaler, which delivers a fine mist of medicine that can be breathed in slowly, directing it to the lungs.
  • Spacers are made for all ages. Younger children may be given a face mask that fits on the end of their spacer, while older children often use a spacer with a mouthpiece.
  • Spacers are easy to use, with practice. Children should breathe in slowly and then hold their breath to make sure all the medicine gets inside their lungs. It's important to practice at the doctor's office to receive feedback and learn the best technique.