Q: My child was just diagnosed with asthma. Should he stop playing sports or limit his activity?
A: No! Physical activity is great for kids with asthma, and the worst thing you can do is sideline your child unnecessarily. Although it's natural to be concerned about his having an asthma attack (especially when you're not around) with proper controller medications your son should be able to keep playing his favorite sports. Many children take daily-inhaled steroids such as Flovent or Pulmicort, which reduce airway inflammation, or nonsteroidal drugs like Singulair, which can reduce the body's response to asthma triggers, or in some cases, a combination of both. Your doctor will prescribe the best medication regimen for your son.
That said, there are some activities that are more likely to aggravate asthma than others. For example, cold, dry air is a big asthma trigger; so you may want to steer him away from sports like ice hockey or skiing. But if he insists on lacing up his skates, the proper meds should allow him to do these as well. If exercise triggers asthma symptoms in your child, you can use a bronchodilator (like an albuterol inhaler) preventively. Giving your child a dose 15 minutes before his sport or activity can help ward off a flare-up, allowing him to take full part in all the fun. --Marguerite Lamb
Originally published in American Baby magazine, April 2005.