As we enter the fall sports season, many children will be participating in these activities with an inhaler and asthma action plan in hand.
While some of these kids have chronic asthma, others only experience it when they’re active, especially in cooler weather.
But that doesn’t mean your child should avoid exercise if she experiences asthma symptoms when she’s physically active.
In fact, exercise is good for her because it will help improve her lung function by strengthening the breathing muscles in the chest.
Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma
Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma usually present 5-10 minutes after you start exercising, peak 5-10 minutes after you stop, and linger an hour or more after that.
The symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or tightness
- Lessened ability to play sports well
- A feeling of being out of shape despite being in good physical condition
- Avoiding activity (especially among younger children)
“If your child experiences any of these signs and symptoms, consult with your doctor to get a fast and accurate diagnosis,” said Tracy Rife, the asthma and easy breathing program coordinator at Akron Children’s Robert T. Stone, MD, Respiratory Center. “Seek immediate emergency medical treatment if your child has wheezing or shortness of breath that quickly worsens, or no relief after using a prescription inhaler.”
How to manage exercise-induced asthma
Rife offers a few tips to help children and teens with exercise-induced asthma participate in sports to the best of their ability.
- Use a daily controller inhaler, if prescribed, even when feeling fine.
- Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before exercising.
- Take quick-relief medication 15 minutes before starting exercise, if ordered.
- Breathe through the nose while exercising.
- Take short rests and use quick-relief medication, as prescribed, if symptoms occur.
- Avoid exercising outside during very cold weather.
- Exercise indoors when pollen counts are high or air quality is poor.
- Avoid exercising while suffering from an upper respiratory infection.
- Stop exercising while experiencing symptoms and getting no relief from a rescue inhaler.
- Keep additional quick-relief medication and a spacer on hand, if needed.
- Cool down after exercising.
Even if a child has exercise-induced asthma, it’s still important for them to stretch her legs. Regular physical activity can improve lung function by strengthening your child’s chest muscles.
Consult with your doctor regarding the precautions needed before your child starts a sport.