10 Tips For Winning With Asthma: Parents
If your child has asthma, or difficulty breathing with exertion, or avoids participating in sports and physical activities, please talk to your pediatrician about seeing a pediatric pulmonologist or asthma specialist for an evaluation. Asthma should NOT prevent your child from reaching his or her potential both in sports and in life! All children with asthma should be able to Breathe Easy and Play Hard! Check out these 10 Tips to create a winning asthma game plan for your child.
If your child or teen avoids physical exertion without explanation, can’t keep up with peers, gets very pale or red in the face with running or complains of tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing or coughs during or soon after exercise, asthma may be the cause… and an evaluation is in order.
Identifying the right pediatric pulmonologist or asthma specialist for a proper evaluation is the next step. If it is discovered that your child has asthma, develop a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan with your physician. Building and maintaining a close partnership with a pulmonologist or asthma specialist with whom you feel comfortable is essential for the long term. Clear communication will be necessary; you will have lots of questions and your child/teen will likely need periodic asthma treatment plan adjustments.
Make an encouraging and positive attitude commitment to your youngster from day one. With good asthma control (as a result of the proper treatment plan), your son or daughter can accomplish anything, Strongly encourage physical activity and playing sports-for fun or competitively-from an early age. Exercise has so many positive long-term health, psychological and social benefits. And studies show that improved physical and emotional conditioning can lead to improved asthma control!
Learn as much as you can about the condition and know all the facts. If you would like to learn more, go to The Basics of Asthma.
Don’t travel this road alone with your youngster. Engage and nurture a team approach with other supporters, including school nurses, gym teachers, coaches, friends and family members. Advocating for an informed, positive and coordinated team approach helps ensure your child/teen of a healthy, active lifestyle minimally affected by asthma.
Do your homework. Recognize your child’s specific trigger profile—and how to respond to each and every one. Know how to avoid them if possible. Proactively deal with them if possible. Do not hesitate to make preventative, proactive adjustments to the treatment plan in concert with your physician.
Communicate consistently with your child/teen. Ask specific questions. For example, ask if he or she is having any shortness of breath, breathing difficulty during gym or after school sports. Ask if he or she has had any difficulty completing the “one-mile” or President’s challenge run in gym. These are signs of asthma and inadequate asthma control. Discuss this with your asthma doctor as soon as possible. A change in treatment plan may be necessary and can avoid a downward spiral.
Also, be sure to find out if your child feels that the gym teacher or coach fully understands what asthma is and how to work with you both to mitigate its effects.
Know that your youngster with asthma is totally capable of playing any sport to which he or she sets his or her heart and mind. However, if there is no strong feeling for or a commitment to a favorite sport but there is a desire to gain physical fitness’s health and social benefits, you may want to suggest participation in less aerobically vigorous sports, for example, baseball, football, gymnastics and short track and field events.
Swimming (except in indoor heavily chlorinated pools) is traditionally recommended as an excellent sport for athletes with asthma. It leads to top quality aerobic and lung conditioning without the asthma-triggering effect of drying out the airways (as the air is already warmed and humidified).
Familiarize yourself with the key strategies necessary for maximizing your child’s athletic performance and periodically reinforce them. Adhering to the daily medication plan, taking a pre-exercise inhaler if recommended, using the proper warm-up and cool-down techniques before and after aerobic exercise, breathing through the air-warming nose as much as possible, etc., etc. All of these techniques improve athletic performance.
Be the parent. Take responsibility! Too frequently, the parent leaves the responsibility of taking of asthma inhalers and other medication to their children. And, all to often, between the parent’s and the their busy schedules and other priorities, proper asthma management falls by the wayside. Young people should not be given the entire responsibility for being in charge of their health; in this case, the short-term and possible long-term consequences of asthma are too great. Stay involved every step of the way.
Finally, be aware that better physical conditioning leads to better asthma control. And, the better the asthma control, the better the athletic performance!