If your child has asthma, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the problems asthma causes — such as shortness of breath and wheezing that can sometimes be exacerbated by physical activity. That leaves many parents wondering if their child can play sports or if they’ll need to remain seated on the sidelines.
The good news: Most kids can absolutely play sports as long as they follow a few simple guidelines. In fact, regular physical activity could even improve your child’s symptoms, helping them enjoy better health throughout their adult years, too.
At Nevada Pediatric Specialists, our team helps kids in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, manage their asthma symptoms so they can enjoy organized sports with their classmates and peers. Here, we list eight steps you can take to help your child enjoy their favorite sports.
1. Keep your child’s asthma action plan updated
Having an asthma action plan in place is important for anyone with asthma — kids and adults, too. Your child’s plan should include a current list of potential triggers, known symptoms, and steps to take during flare-ups, including the use of inhalers or other medicines.
Our team works closely with you and your child to develop a custom plan tailored to their needs. If your child is starting a new sport, make an appointment so we can adjust their plan accordingly.
2. Involve the coach
Most kids with asthma don’t want to feel different from their peers, and that can make them less willing to share information about their condition. But keeping your child’s coach in the loop is crucial.
Share your child’s action plan with the coach, and involve your child in the conversation. Make sure the coach knows what asthma symptoms to look for and what to do in case of an asthma attack.
3. Choose the right sport
Asthma symptoms are often triggered by long periods of high-intensity activity, like the continual running and movement during sports like basketball or tennis.
You can help your child minimize the risk of flare-ups by encouraging them to look for lower-intensity sports that involve brief periods of activity intermingled with rest. Baseball, football, gymnastics, swimming, and golf are all examples of lower-intensity sports that can be great choices for kids with asthma.
4. Use medication preemptively
Asthma medications typically are used at the onset of symptoms to help relax the airways and prevent those symptoms from getting worse. But if your child is playing a sport, it can be a good idea to use the inhaler 15-30 minutes prior to play to prepare the airways ahead of time.
Our team can determine if using medication prior to sports is appropriate for your child. If it is, we include that in your child’s asthma action plan, too.
5. Emphasize warm up and cool down
Warming up and cooling down are important for your muscles, and that includes the muscles that help manage your airways. Be sure your child always makes time to warm up for 10-15 minutes prior to practice or play, followed by 10 minutes to cool down afterward.
6. Plan for cold weather
Cold air is a common asthma trigger for many kids. Exercise increases breathing activity, which means cold air can be even more irritating. If your child can’t avoid outdoor play during cold weather, have them wear a scarf to pre-warm air before inhaling.
7. Be mindful of triggers
Cold air isn’t the only potential trigger that could affect your child. Keep an eye on the pollen count, and aim to skip outdoor activities when the count is very high. If your child can’t skip that day, talk to the coach about other accommodations, or pay close attention to your child’s symptoms.
8. Stay hydrated
Hydration is important for all athletes, but if your child has asthma, it’s crucial. Drinking plenty of water helps prevent thick secretions of mucus that can make breathing more difficult. Have your child choose a water bottle of their liking and keep it with them at all times.
Asthma care focused on your child’s healthy life
Regular physical activity optimizes lung and airway function while helping your child stay fit and feel more confident. Following these simple tips and staying attuned to your child’s symptoms and needs can help them enjoy the activities they love while still keeping their asthma symptoms under control.
To learn more about asthma treatment or to have your child’s asthma action plan updated, contact Nevada Pediatric Specialists at 702-457-5437 or book an appointment online today.