10 Tips For Winning With Asthma: Kids and Teens
Even if you have asthma as kids or teens, you can still play any sport just for fun or even compete at the highest level as long as you follow your doctor’s asthma treatment plan and work hard. You don’t have to sit on the sidelines—just look to your favorite Olympic and professional athletes and famous performers who have achieved great success in both their careers and in life and didn’t let asthma stop them! Just like them, you too, can Breathe Easy and Play Hard! Check out these 10 Tips to winning with asthma.
If you have asthma, you can still play any sport just for fun or at the highest competitive level if you put your mind and body into it—and follow your doctor’s asthma treatment plan prescribed just for you. Keep a positive attitude and never let anyone discourage you from participating in gym or trying out for the team.
If you (or a friend) have any tightness in your chest, trouble taking in a full deep breath or coughing during or right after exercise, immediately tell your parent, coach or gym teacher. It might be due to asthma. With the right evaluation and treatment plan, your symptoms will lessen and your game will improve big time.
Partner with a pediatric pulmonologist or asthma specialist with whom you and your family feel you can work closely and with whom you can speak openly and honestly. Think of your doctor as “the coach with the right evaluation and treatment game plan”. Discuss your exercise and specific sports preferences and concerns. Since no two young people with asthma are exactly the same, it may take a couple of adjustments to come up with the best individually customized plan for you so ongoing communication and feedback to your doctor is very important.
Once you have the right individualized asthma treatment plan developed for you by your asthma doctor, do not EVER skip doses of medicine—even though you might be tempted to do so. Remember, the reason you are symptom-free and feeling better is because you are on these medicines You are investing in a better breathing future by taking your medicines and thereby decreasing your chance of long-term airway inflammation and scarring.
Good asthma control leads to a good athletic performance. Great control means great performance. Got it?
Know how to use your inhaler properly so you actually deliver the medicine into your lungs! Knowing which inhaler to use when is also an important part of asthma control. Go over this with your physician and watch our Proper Inhaler Usage video to double check your technique. You might be surprised to hear that at least half of young people with asthma are not getting the full benefit of their asthma medication because they are not using their inhaler properly.
Be proactive. In other words, always try to avoid your asthma triggers but if that is not possible, adjust your medications in advance to try to prevent a flare up.
For example, if you are sensitive to outdoor pollen, grass or mold—and you are exercising outdoors—be sure that your seasonal allergies are controlled, because if they are not, they can trigger asthma symptoms. You can do this by taking preventative oral or nasal allergy medications or by finding another venue such as an indoor facility to exercise in during peak allergen periods.
And, you may have to limit vigorous exercise during a cold or upper respiratory infection or when air pollution levels (ozone, for example) are high.
Use simple common sense and develop good daily habits. Treat your body well. Adopt a healthy diet, good sleeping habits and commit to an absolutely “no smoking” policy. Hydrate well prior to and during all vigorous exercise and sports activities.
Prepare well. Take your pre-exercise inhaler(s) 15-20 minutes prior to exercising or playing your sport. After taking your puffs, warm up on your own. A 5 to 10 minute warm-up (jogging in place, jumping rope or jumping jacks, for example) can go a long way to preventing chest tightening. And, by gradually increasing levels of exercise, it will help your body and lungs prepare for more intense activities.
While exercising outdoors in cold weather, try to breathe through your nose as much as possible or use a ski gator to cover your nose and mouth. Why? Your nose is an important asthma protector—it warms and humidifies the air that you breathe before it reaches your lungs. Cold air is an asthma trigger in many young people and together with exercise will likely trigger asthma symptoms.
Finally, always remember that you are not in this game alone. You have a whole team of people in your corner—your doctor, parents, gym teachers, coaches, nurses and friends. All of them will be there to support and encourage you to achieve your goals—as long as you are willing to communicate with them. Your support team is not a group of mind readers, OK? So speak your mind.