Although asthma causes breathing problems and can be very dangerous, it does not mean your child cannot play sports. Being active and playing sports can be a great idea if your child has asthma. Why? Because it can help the lungs get stronger, so they will work better. Even with asthma, your child can enjoy the many benefits of sports and exercising without risking their health. Though athletics are often avoided, playing sports with asthma may not be what you thought.
When a person has asthma, the bronchial tubes (the passageways that carry air to the lungs) become extremely sensitive. The tubes can suddenly squeeze tight and make it difficult for air to pass through. This is called an asthma attack.
Unfortunately, an asthma attack can be caused by one of the healthiest things a kid can do: exercise. Many children have exercise-induced asthma, which means they only have asthma when they workout. Exercise is great for the lungs, but it causes the airways to lose heat and moisture, which especially occurs if the air is cold and dry. This can aggravate the bronchial tubes and cause them to swell, which can create an asthma attack.
Keeping Asthma Under Control
Playing sports with asthma is a great way to develop stronger lungs but it is important to do this safely. Before playing any sports, it’s important that your child’s asthma is under control. This means they are not having many flare-ups. Here are some tips on how to keep asthma under control:
- skipping outdoor workouts when there’s a lot of pollen in the air
- wearing a scarf or face mask when it’s very cold and dry outside
- breathing through the nose instead of the mouth while exercising
- making sure there is always time for a warm up and cool down
- Make sure the coach and teammates know about your child’s asthma. They will understand if your child needs to stop working out because of breathing trouble. It’s also important that the coach knows which steps to take incase of a flare-up.
Make sure your child knows to always listen to their body and follow instructions from the doctor on handling breathing problem. Following these tips will keep your child in the game.
Playing Sports with Asthma
Playing different sports will cause different risks for your child. Some sports are more likely to cause asthma attacks than others. Vigorous sports performed that are played in cold air, such as ice skating and ice hockey are at the top of that list. Sports that require an intense effort with little to no letup rank second on the list. These sports include soccer, long-distance running, and competitive cycling. These sports are more likely to cause asthma attacks but that does not mean you should give up on participating in them.
There are a variety of sports that rarely cause asthma attacks. They are usually performed in a humid environment and are stop-and-go sports such as swimming, baseball, softball, karate, sprinting, and golf. These are more of a low-risk sport for your child to play.
Staying in The Game
Asthma definitely doesn’t have to keep your child out of the game. With the right treatments, asthma attacks can usually be prevented in any sport. However, if your child’s disease is severe, a low-risk sport may be the best option.
For many people, an inhaler is the best defense against exercise-related asthma. An inhaler is filled with a quick-acting bronchodilator such as albuterol or pirbuterol. Your doctor will prescribe the best treatment for your child, which will be important to follow carefully in order to keep their asthma under control. Make sure coaches and gym teachers know how to handle your child’s asthma. They may assume your child should stay on the sidelines, but that is not the case if their asthma is monitored and controlled.
Encourage your child to warm up by walking, stretching, and briefly running in place before exercising. When the game is over, walking and stretching can keep their airways from tightening up. Keep your child active and exercising regularly so they can stay healthy and continue to control their asthma.
If you need help controlling your child’s asthma or have questions about playing sports with asthma, contact us today to set up an appointment. Dr. Shulka has the skills and experience necessary to prescribe a course of treatment that will help make your child’s condition manageable.