You may think exercise and asthma are incompatible, especially if you have ever seen your child wheeze or cough out on the field. However, exercise is vital for your child’s health and development. With a well-managed asthma plan in place, your child can be free to join in games and sports, symptom free.
Why do asthma flare-ups occur?
Having asthma means that your child’s airways are hypersensitive to things such as pollen, pet dander, or even cold air. These things are called allergens. Exposure to any of these allergens can trigger an asthmatic reaction in your child’s airways and lungs: airways tighten and narrow, and mucus may build up in them. This can lead to symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
What is an asthma plan and what is in it?
A detailed asthma plan, crafted by you and your healthcare provider, is essential to keep your child’s asthma under control. It is a written guideline on how to prevent asthma symptoms, and how to control or prevent flare-ups if they occur.
Every written asthma plan is different – your doctor or healthcare provider tailors it to your child. Some basic things that should be included in an asthma plan include:
- Daily asthma management:
- A list of daily medications, including names of the meds and dosages
- Environmental factors (triggers) that worsen the student’s asthma – these could include pollens, pet dander, etc.
- When asthma worsens:
- What signs, symptoms, and measurements indicate problems
- Emergency medications to use
- Emergency contacts:
- The number of your doctor and other emergency contact information
- Permission for your child to carry medications and any permission needed school authorities to administer medications, if advised by your doctor.
Keeping control during exercise
Because asthma is a chronic condition that has no cure, living a full, active life depends on its continuous management. Asthma is a moving target; it changes from day to day, even hour to hour.
There may be days when your child is able to participate fully in all organized sports, and there may be days when air pollution, very cold, dry air, or high pollen count pose problems. Here are a few tips to keep your child safe while out on the field.
- Keep the exercise area smoke-free
- Keep animals away, if animal dander is a trigger
- Avoid lawns recently treated with chemicals
- Inside, avoid chemical fumes from cleaning agents
- A scarf wrapped around the mouth in cold weather, warms and humidifies the air your child breaths.
- Warm up before exercise
- Start slow
- Take regular medications every day
- Keep an emergency inhaler on hand
Some days, peak activity is not a good idea. Moderating activity is a much better idea than sitting it out. Here is an example of a modified track workout:
- Walk instead of run
- Run a shorter distance
- Mix it up: walk and run
Choose smart sports. Avoid intense, sustained types of sports that may be more likely to trigger asthma symptoms, such as:
- Long-distance running
Other choices may be less likely to trigger asthma symptoms:
- Swimming can be a good sport. Warm, moist air can be better for asthma than cold, dry air
- Football or baseball can also be good choices because these sports have built-in breaks
Children’s Health Care of Massachusetts (CHC Mass) was the nation’s first community health center to open its doors in Boston, providing health services for low and moderate-income people in the inner-city areas, and isolated rural communities. Child-centered and family-focused, Child’s Health Care of Massachusetts is your family’s partner in health providing compassionate and personalized care for your whole child.
If you have questions about the flu vaccine, or about influenza and how it can affect your child’s health and the health of your entire family, contact Children’s Health Care of Newburyport and Haverhill for more information about how you can partner with CHC to help your child achieve their healthiest childhood, possible.