Asthma is a chronic lung disease in which airways are compromised due to inflammation and narrowing. Even in mild cases, a child can experience wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing.  But symptoms of a more severe asthma attack can include tightening of the chest and shortness of breath attack; in which case immediate medical care is essential. While asthma can be controlled, it is still a very serious and even life-threatening disease.

Can My Child Play Sports With Asthma?

Experts estimate that approximately 20 million children between the ages of 6 and 16 participate in one or more organized sports outside of school and another 25 million are involved with competitive sports through school.  And thanks to tremendous advances in treating this disease, many of these children, 7 million in fact, are able to safely participate in sports despite having asthma.

For many parents, the thought of allowing a child with asthma to play sports is frightening. Of course, there are major restrictions for some children but for the most part, a child can participate and even excel in sports simply by following a few guidelines.

First and foremost, if your child has asthma, it is critical that he or she is first cleared by a doctor for physical activities.  Beyond receiving a doctor’s approval and recommendations, here are our 3 tips to ensure your child can enjoy sports without the worry of asthma.

1.   Make Sure Everyone Knows The Signs of An Asthma Attack

Everyone needs to be properly educated about the signs of a coming asthma attack – you, your child, the coaches and even your child’s teammates. After all, a child can feel completely fine one minute but then experience a flare up the next.  And knowing the signs and what to do will often make the difference between a mild flare up and a serious attack.

Start by learning what triggers your child’s asthma attacks.  Though they come in different forms, these asthma attack triggers all restrict airflow in your child’s respiratory system making it harder for them to breathe easily:

  • Physical exertion
  • Cold weather
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Air pollutants
  • Pet dander

Once you discover your child’s environmental triggers, keep an eye out for these common signs of a developing asthma attack so that you can to take appropriate action:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Tightening of the chest

 2.   Choose The Right Sport For Your Child

When it comes to asthma, some sports can be less risky than others.  Athletes in sports that combine a cold climate with intense physical activity such as hockey, snow skiing or ice skating can be particularly prone to asthma attacks.  While you don’t have to rule these sports out altogether, be sure to develop an appropriate treatment plan with your doctor before the season starts.

Depending upon position played and the amount of extended play, many child athletes have excelled in these asthma-friendly sports:

  • Baseball/Softball
  • Track & Field (Short-distance events)
  • Golf
  • Volleyball
  • Swimming
  • Fencing

Remember that extended physical exertion and cold weather are two of the biggest triggers for an asthma attack.

3.   Have The Right Medication Handy In Case of An Attack

As we mentioned before, because of the tremendous advances made in treating asthma we have access very effective medication will help you child enjoy their athletic career.  Your doctor will be able to recommend excellent options that keep attacks at bay and without causing unpleasant side effects.

Once you and your doctor decide on the best medication for your child, be sure to keep their inhaler handy at all times during play in case of an attack.  If necessary, you may also consider keeping a breathing machine in the trunk of your car in case you need something stronger than an inhaler.

By no mean does having asthma mean you have to sideline your child’s involvement in sports.  In fact, may professional athletes today enjoy successful careers despite having to overcome their asthma.  One of our favorites is future NFL Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis who once passed out during a high school football tryout because of his asthma.  But because he came up with a plan to control his asthma, Jerome went on to become of the most decorated running backs in the NFL.