Asthma Out of the Blue
How one young high school athlete with exercise-induced asthma integrated his asthma action plan with his lifelong love of sports.
Peter N. was born into an athletic family. At home, the basement and garage are filled with skis, bikes, helmets, snowboards, soccer balls, hockey sticks, yoga mats and medals from triathlons, marathons and ski races. Ever since Peter was a child, sports have marked the change in seasons just as surely as the weather.
Last spring, Peter, age 16, became easily winded during track practice. As the season progressed, he realized that he was losing endurance instead of gaining it. "I couldn't even finish a 100-meter sprint without getting worn out," Peter says. Initially, Peter's parents thought it was due to seasonal allergies, but when Peter's heart was still racing after practice, they became concerned due to the family's history of heart disease.
Peter's dad took him to see an internist. After doing a complete physical, the doctor concluded that although his heart was perfectly healthy, he did have exercise-induced asthma. For both parents, the diagnosis was actually a relief. "We were so afraid that Peter had something seriously wrong with his heart," his dad says. "We're just happy that he has a type of asthma that can be easily managed with medication and exercise."
Today, Peter's exercise-induced asthma is well under control. He follows his asthma action plan as directed by his doctor, and he uses his inhaler as necessary. Peter is still on the track and field team, as well as the varsity reserve soccer team and the varsity alpine ski team. More than anything, Peter's experience has taught him to pay attention to his health. "I take plenty of time to warm up and cool down, and if I'm slowing down or tiring out, I stop and take a break," he says. "I don't feel like I have to push myself as hard as I used to."
Here are some tips for managing exercise-induced asthma as part of your child's athletic activities:
Talk to your child's doctor about creating a plan to integrate sports into the asthma action plan. Make sure that your child knows that exercise-induced asthma won't prevent him or her from participating in sports and competitive athletics. There are even Olympic athletes with asthma! Consider sports that allow your child to rest between periods of exertion, such as baseball or skiing. Swimming is also a great sport for people with asthma because of the warm, moist air. Call the coach to make sure that he or she is aware of your child's condition, that he or she has a copy of your child's asthma action plan, and that your child is taking his or her medication as directed.
Please consult a doctor at https://healthlinerx.org/ for advice and guidance on creating the right asthma action plan for your child or teen.
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