A question I get a lot from parents is: Can my child play sports with asthma? This concern usually peaks around this time of year as allergy season is upon us and can exacerbate asthma symptoms. It’s understandable that parents worry about their child’s health, but here’s the deal. The short answer…is yes. Your child can, and should, still play sports if they have asthma. There are some precautions you should take, but there is no reason your child should have to sit on the sidelines when it comes to sports. Of course, your child’s doctor will have the final say as to whether he or she can play any given sport, however, barring any severe cases, playing a sport should be on your child’s schedule.
Benefits of exercise for kids with asthma
Playings sports and staying active in general is important for all kids, but carries additional benefits for kids with asthma. One study on asthma and exercise had children with asthma participate in an exercise program twice weekly. The study found that health related quality of life improved from the beginning of the study, and the children experienced no major limitations due to their asthma. What’s more, the children themselves reported feeling like both their asthma and fitness had improved. In fact, exercise can help strengthen the lungs, therefore alleviating some of the symptoms of asthma.
Precautions to take
As with any medical condition, be sure to let your child’s coaches know about their asthma and what they should do if your child has an attack as well as how to know if it is time to take a break. Make sure to bring any necessary medication to all practices and games, and be sure your child and their coach know how to administer it.
In addition, make sure your child is aware of what to do in the event of a flare up and how to prevent one. Your child is their own biggest advocate, and sometimes only they can make that judgement call as to whether they need to sit out of practice or the game for a bit. If your child’s asthma is severe, choose the sport(s) they play wisely. And always keep their doctor informed of the activities they do. If in doubt, ask your child’s doctor whether a particular sport you’re considering is advisable.
If your child has allergies
Allergies can worsen asthma symptoms, and some kids have allergy induced asthma, so it’s essential your child use caution when exercising during allergy season. Again, make sure your child’s coach is aware of his/her allergies and what to do if they become problematic while your child is in their care. If the take asthma medication, have it on hand. Stay updated on allergy conditions in the area by checking the pollen counts and allergen forecasts. This website gives comprehensive allergen info for the whole country. Some more tips: don’t stay outdoors too long when counts are high (counts are usually worse in the morning). Wind can stir up allergens, so exercise caution on windy days.
So if you’re wondering if your child can play sports with asthma, worry no longer. After a consult with their doctor (and a sports physical may be required) you can rest assured that playing a sport is only ok for your child with asthma, but actually beneficial. Above all, use common sense and your child will get along just fine.