Can My Child Still Be an Athlete with Asthma?
Asthma is a serious medical condition that causes the air passages in the lungs to become irritated and narrowed, making breathing difficult.
Asthma is fairly common; about nine million children in the United States suffer from it. If your child has asthma, you may wonder if he or she can still participate in sports.
At Night Watch Pediatric Care, Dr. Ravneet Dhaliwal provides high-quality, compassionate pediatric care in the Manassas area. She works with many families to treat acute exacerbation of asthma, coughing, wheezing and helps manage their children’s asthma. Dr. Dhaliwal answers all your questions and finds treatment options that work.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a medical condition in which your child’s lungs become irritated, causing swelling and narrowing of the passageways in the lungs along with increased mucus production. As a result, your child can have difficulty breathing and may have frequent spells of wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
Asthma typically develops in childhood as a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Most asthma sufferers have certain triggers that cause an asthma attack to occur. Careful management of your child’s asthma is important to avoid distressing symptoms and prevent more serious attacks that can be life-threatening.
What are the treatments for asthma?
Asthma doesn't have a cure, but asthma symptoms can be controlled with careful monitoring and management. Asthma can change over a period of time, too, especially in children who are growing, so stay in close communication with your doctor about what your child is experiencing.
Asthma is usually treated with long-term medications such as inhaled corticosteroids that soothe the inflamed airways. Your child will likely also need to carry a rescue inhaler that provides quick relief from asthma symptoms and attacks. Ensuring your child follows his or her medication plan is essential to keeping asthma under control.
Asthma attacks can be caused by exposure to specific environmental triggers. Dr. Dhaliwal works with you to determine what your child’s asthma triggers are that may cause an attack, and determines how to best manage those triggers. Typical asthma triggers include smoke, air pollution, furry pets, mold, and exertion.
Can my child still participate in athletics with asthma?
With careful medical management of asthma symptoms, your child can participate in sports and other activities that he or she enjoys. Although asthma can’t be cured, asthma symptoms can typically be effectively controlled, allowing your child to live a normal, active life. You will need to work closely with your child’s pediatrician in order to adjust treatment as needed over time.
Your child's particular asthma symptoms and triggers will determine if she or he has any limitations on sports participation. Some gentler sports, such as yoga, baseball, golf, gymnastics, and bicycling, are less likely to cause flare-ups of your child’s asthma. Intense endurance sports, such as running, soccer, or basketball can be challenging for children with asthma, as can cold-weather sports such as skiing and hockey.
In addition to carrying a rescue inhaler at all times, your child may need to limit or modify athletic activity when there is a high likelihood of exposure to his or her asthma triggers. This may include watching pollen levels or wearing a scarf over the mouth and nose during cold weather.
Asthma is a serious medical condition, but with proper management, it doesn’t have to keep your child from having a normal active life. Carefully working with your pediatrician to monitor your child’s asthma symptoms is critical to keeping your child healthy and safe, including while participating in their sport of choice.