You might remember a time when kids with asthma were discouraged from playing sports and told to take it easy. That’s no longer the case. Being active, working out and playing sports not only help kids with asthma stay fit, maintain a healthy weight and have fun, but also can strengthen their breathing muscles and help the lungs work better.
For these reasons, your doctor may recommend exercise as part of your child’s asthma treatment plan. If you have doubts about whether sports and asthma mix, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that asthma affects more than 20 percent of elite athletes and one in every six Olympic athletes.
Two important things that kids who have asthma should know about sports participation are their asthma must be under control in order for them to play sports properly and when it is well controlled, they can – and should – be active and play sports just like anyone else.
Of course, some sports are less likely than others to pose problems for people with asthma. Swimming, leisurely biking and walking are less likely to trigger asthma flare-ups, as are sports that require short bursts of activity like baseball, football, gymnastics and shorter track and field events.
Endurance sports, like long-distance running and cycling, and sports like soccer and basketball, which require extended energy output, may be more challenging. This is especially true for cold-weather sports like cross-country skiing or ice hockey. But that doesn’t mean kids can’t participate in these sports if they truly enjoy them. In fact, many athletes with asthma have found that, with proper training and medication, they can participate in any sport they choose.
To keep asthma under control, it’s important that kids take their medicine as prescribed.
Your child should carry quick-relief medicine (also called rescue or fast-acting medicine) at all times, even during workouts, in case of a flare-up.
It’s also a good idea to keep triggers in mind. Depending on their triggers, kids with asthma may want to skip outdoor workouts when pollen or mold counts are high, wear a scarf or ski mask when training outside during the winter, breathe through the nose instead of the mouth while exercising and make sure they always have time for a careful warm-up and cool-down.
These recommendations should be included in the asthma action plan you create with your child’s doctor.
Also, make sure that the coach knows about your child’s asthma and the asthma action plan. Most important, your child and the coach need to understand when it’s time for your child to take a break from a practice or game so that flare-ups can be managed before they become emergencies.
Source: “Tyler Morning Telegraph – Asthma Does Not Have to Be a Sports-stopper for Kids.” TylerPaper.com. N.p., 23 Sept. 2015. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.
If your child has asthma or allergies, make sure his or her teacher, principal and school nurse know about it as part of your back-to-school planning, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) recommends.
“More than 10 million kids under age 18 have asthma, and one in four suffer from respiratory allergies,” ACAAI President Dr. James Sublett said in a news release from the organization.
“Many kids with asthma and food allergies don’t have a plan in place at school. An allergy or asthma action plan doesn’t do any good if it’s not shared with the people who can act on it,” he noted.
The first step is to have allergy/asthma control measures at home, such as lowering exposure to triggers and taking prescribed medications. At school, it’s important for teachers to know your child’s asthma and allergy triggers so that they can help the youngster avoid them in the classroom.
Parents should talk to principals and school nurses about how to handle allergy/asthma emergencies. All 50 states have laws that protect students’ rights to carry and use medicines for asthma and severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) at school.
Children at risk for life-threatening allergic reactions from certain foods or insect stings should carry epinephrine auto-injectors and have them available for immediate use, the ACAAI said.
Children with asthma and allergies should be able to take part in any school sport as long as they follow their doctor’s advice. Parents should ensure their child’s gym teacher and coaches know what to do in case of an asthma emergency.
Many children with food allergies are able to identify what they can and can’t eat, but it’s helpful if other parents and your child’s friends know, too. Some schools have policies restricting treats for special occasions. If your child’s school does not, be sure to tell other parents and children what types of foods your child must avoid.
Source: “Add Asthma, Allergy Plans to Your Back-to-School List.” Consumer HealthDay. N.p., 01 Aug. 2015. Web. 01 Aug. 2015.
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL. (July 14, 2015) – You may have been thinking through your child’s back-to-school allergy plan since school let out in spring. But unless everyone your child deals with at school knows his symptoms and triggers, your plan won’t help keep allergies and asthma under control.
“More than 10 million kids under age 18 have asthma, and one in four suffer from respiratory allergies,” said allergist James Sublett, MD, FACAAI, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Many kids with asthma and food allergies don’t have a plan in place at school. An allergy or asthma action plan doesn’t do any good if it’s not shared with the people who can act on it.”
Following is a list from ACAAI of people at your child’s school you should work with to keep allergies and asthma under control.
Teacher Teacher – While your child’s teacher is the first line of defense at school in helping reduce sniffing, wheezing and sneezing, the right systems must be established at home before your son or daughter gets on the bus. If your child takes an allergy or asthma medication, make sure they take them at home, and that good avoidance measures are set up to keep their triggers under control. If your child’s teacher knows your child’s triggers, she may be able to help them steer clear in the classroom as well.
Too cool for school? Nah. – Discuss how to handle emergencies with the school principal and school nurse. Since 2010, all 50 states have laws protecting students’ rights to carry and use asthma and anaphylaxis medications at school. Children who are at risk for a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) from certain foods or insect stings should have epinephrine auto-injectors immediately available for treatment. Be sure your child and school staff know how to use emergency medications.
Put me in Coach! – Playground games, physical education class and after-school sports can trigger exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). Children with asthma and allergies should be able to participate in any sport they choose, provided their allergist’s advice is followed. Asthma symptoms during exercise may indicate poorly-controlled asthma. Make sure your child’s coach or physical education teacher knows what to do in case of an asthma-related event.
ABC, easy as 1-2-3 – Kids with food allergies are often very good at identifying what they can and can’t eat, but it helps if other parents (such as the room parent) and your child’s friends know too. Your child’s school may have a policy about bringing in treats for special occasions. If they don’t, you’ll want to make other parents and kids aware of what’s off-limits.
Future’s so bright – Your child with allergies or asthma should be under the care of a board-certified allergist. An allergist can determine what is causing symptoms and show you how to avoid triggers. For children with particularly bothersome allergies, an allergist may prescribe immunotherapy (allergy shots) which can modify and prevent allergy development. Kids who have asthma who see an allergist have a 77 percent reduction in lost time from school.
Source: “Before School Starts, Train Everyone’s Brains for Allergies and Asthma.” Before School Starts, Train Everyone’s Brains for Allergies and Asthma. N.p., 14 July 2015. Web. 14 July 2015.
By ELAINE KELLOGG
In recent years, there has been more and more talk about children with allergies, whether these allergies are minor or life threatening. This chatter is for good reason, as there has been an extreme increase in the number of people who are affected by allergies since the beginning of the millennium, though no one has an explanation as to why. Research has estimated that “up to 15 million Americans have food allergies… and this potentially deadly disease affects 1 in every 13 children” 1. This is an important statistic for any teacher, coach, or extracurricular program leader who has the responsibility of taking care of a large number of children to remember. When a teacher or coach is assigned a group of children to teach and look after, they need to have a thought in their mind about the potential of having a child with allergies and the severity of the situation that they could be dealing with.
One serious challenge when dealing with children who have allergies is the fact that children cannot always communicate with a teacher or coach about the allergies that they have. As someone with a younger brother who has experienced severe food allergies since birth, I know that before my brother was old enough, he did not even fully understand what having an allergy meant or what he could and could not eat. This can be extremely scary for parents of a child with allergies because they live in fear that one day their child may be offered something to eat by someone who is unaware of the allergy, and their child will not understand that they cannot eat it. Unknowingly, someone can offer his or her child something that could potentially kill the child if not treated immediately.
The first thing that we can do to help alleviate this scary situation is to educate those who are in charge of children about the different kinds of allergies and the possible reactions that could occur as a result of these allergies. Secondly, these people in charge also need to be well informed about the specific allergies that a child has before they assume responsibility for that child. Even in a seemingly harmless situation, a child could have an unexpected reaction if a teacher or coach is uninformed and unaware. Take a youth soccer practice for example: A boy’s mother decides to bring snacks to practice one day, not knowing that any allergies exist for any player on the team. The snacks that she brings are peanut butter cookies, which her son is able to eat so she doesn’t think twice about bringing. The coach has not been informed of any peanut allergies on the team (or he has briefly, but forgotten) and thinks nothing of the snacks the mother has brought. A little boy on the team, unknowing about the ingredients in the cookies, takes a bite and goes into anaphylactic shock. Now lets take the story one step further. The coach, now realizing that one of his players is experiencing an allergic reaction does not even know whether this boy has an Epi-pen or where it would be located.
This scenario is the exact scenario that causes so many parents to worry about their child who suffers from allergies. Most parents will tell the coach or teacher at the beginning of the season or school year if their child suffers from allergies and what these allergies are specifically, but it is so easy for someone to forget if they are not reminded. Additionally, if a coach or teacher knows about an allergy but cannot locate an Epi-pen, then knowing about the allergy does them almost no good. In order to prevent a situation like the one played out earlier, it is crucial that coaches, teachers, and anyone who is in charge of children has a sense of what they are dealing with when it comes to allergies, whether it be food, seasonal, or insect related allergies. They need to know who has them, what they may be, and how to react if something does go wrong and a child has a reaction. It has to be a top priority for them to make sure they know who is allergic to what so that they can always be looking out for the children who cannot eat certain things. By being aware and prepared, coaches and teachers can put parents at ease knowing that their child’s allergies are a concern and a priority, and that they will be in good hands in the event that they have a reaction.
We’ve all been there: getting hit or knocked down during a game and saying “I’m fine!” instead of taking a seat on the bench and determining whether or not we are really injured. No player wants to let the team down or feel weak for admitting that he or she is hurt and in need of a break, but this mentality can actually hurt a player even more down the line. According to safekids.org, a youth sports injury that results in a visit to the emergency room occurs once every 25 seconds. This adds up to about 3,397 children in the hospital every single day. Safe to say, youth sports injuries are not uncommon and need to be taken seriously. That number would be even higher if more players were willing to admit their pain and take the necessary steps to find out how to heal it, but this would at least prevent further damage or repeated injuries of the same kind from happening. 54 percent of athletes said they have played injured, and 42 percent of athletes have admitted to “hiding or down-playing an injury during a game so they could keep playing”, according to safekids.org. This practice of hiding injuries needs to be curbed so that children stop repeatedly playing on an injury, and putting themselves in even more danger.
At the beginning of the season, players need to be told by the coach to come forward and be honest if they are feeling less than okay and ground rules should be set to agree on how the team will approach injuries. It also becomes the parents’ responsibility to report to the coaches in the event that their child has admitted to feeling pain, or has been diagnosed by a doctor and given specific instructions about how to treat an injury. Similarly, the coach needs to be open with the parent and inform them that their child has been injured during a practice or a game so that the parent can take the necessary steps to keep their child healthy and safe. Considering that 62 percent of organized sports-related injuries occur during practices, according to youthsportssafetyalliance.org, it is clear that many injuries occur when the parent is not around to witness them, making communication necessary.
While the responsibility does lie on the player, we cannot always trust that children will take an injury as seriously as they should or that they will be open with both their coach and parent and admit to one. According to safekids.org, less than half of coaches are certified and know how to prevent and recognize sports injuries, while 53 percent have said they’ve felt “pressure from a parent or player to put an athlete back in the game” after an injury. To make the playing field a safer place, coaches need to be certified or, at the very least, aware of the health issues of their players, just as parents need to focus on their children’s health rather than their goal count.
What all of this comes down to is communication. The gaps between players and parents, players and coaches, and parents and coaches leave room for more harm. A player who tells his parents that his ankle hurt during the last practice and gets a note from the doctor that he should skip gym class should not be playing in their soccer game the next day. The player might not want to tell their coach about this for fear of being benched, but the parent should recognize the importance of resting for their child’s safety and keep the coach informed. Similarly, if a player was complaining of dizziness during practice and had to sit out, the coach should report this to the parent so that they can go to a doctor or keep an eye out for their child. If a coach or a parent doesn’t know there is something wrong with the child, then they have no way of fixing the problem. Where communication stops is where injuries can go from bad to worse. The more aware that parents and coaches are about a player’s injuries, the more help and support they can give. When players, parents, and coaches work together, athletes are kept safer and the team becomes stronger as a whole.
By CARINA CORRAL
Michael Buono has been coaching youth sports for years, and like many parents and volunteers, he has no medical training. But he’s still the first one to help a child if they get injured on the field. Does the child have any pre-existing conditions? Are they diabetic? Asthmatic? Who’s to know.
So he developed SafetyTag, a program that creates player safety files for each child, displaying their unique health conditions. Why is little Johnny gasping for air? Peanut allergy? Asthma? The coach can know in seconds by looking at Johnny’s SafetyTag file — which says that his inhaler is in his blue backpack.
Buono said that the program is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliant (likely because the parents fill in the information themselves and medical professionals aren’t the ones sharing and using it.) With 26 million kids playing youth sports, he sees a big market.
“We’re hoping leagues mandate it in the future,” said Buono, “just like a cup and a mouthpiece.”
Source: Shelly, Jared. “Will This Safety Program Be As Common as a Helmet?” Philadelphia Magazine. N.p., 18 June 2015. Web. 18 June 2015.
By CAROLINE MOASSESSI
No one knows when an emergency will hit and being prepared will help reduce the risk of additional problems – especially for those with asthma, food allergy or celiac disease. Whether wild fire, hurricanes or floods are driving you out of your home, there are few basics that can save time and stress in any evacuation situation.
Keep your gas tank full and create a plan of where you will go if you need to leave in a hurry. Shelters and well-meaning friends may not be asthma or allergen aware. Instead, research and identify a location that provides accommodations with a kitchen or cooking facilities. Designate an out-of-town contact person to call in the event of an emergency. Family and friends can help to save your smart phone’s battery by calling this person instead of you.
Basic Emergency Supplies
Keep a duffel bag within easy reach that is filled with basic necessities. It should include the following:
- List of accommodations including phone numbers and addresses
- Flashlight and fresh batteries
- Battery operated radio (note: solar may not work if skies are dark)
- First aid kit
- Manual can opener
- Canned foods, energy bars and shelf-stable foods that are safe and satiating. Individually packaged items such Sunbutter packets, rice or soy milk boxes are good on-the-go choices.
- Disposable bowls, plates, forks, spoons, cups and napkins
- Bottled waters and electrolyte drinks (one gallon of water per person per day)
- Ziploc bags for trash and to keep foods fresh
- Grooming items such as allergen-safe soap, toothpaste and shampoo
- Hand wipes and sanitizers
- Car chargers for phones
- If applicable: pet-care items, baby items, feminine products
Important documents to store in fire and/or waterproof containers:
- Cash in the event there are no ATMs or banks open
- Important documents, such as insurance, medical records, passports, deeds, wills and other hard to replace information
Be Medically Prepared
Emergency kits require a few extra items and careful planning for those with asthma, allergies or celiac disease.
- Emergency Action Plans for food allergy, asthma or other disease. Stress during an emergency may cause you to forget simple procedures.
- Medical Information Sheet detailing physician names and contact information, health insurance provider account number and contact data, prescription drug list with pharmacy name, refill numbers, name of prescribing physician, dosing and frequency.
- Supply of prescription medications, such as epinephrine auto-injectors, asthma maintenance drugs, inhalers, nebulizer medications.
- Over-the-Counter medications, since stores may be closed, such as antihistamines, eye drops, fever reducers.
- Portable battery-operated nebulizers with car adapters.
For Wild, Wet Weather
Dealing with hurricanes, flooding or drenching? Switch to a waterproof duffel bag and load it with:
- Waterproof bags for food and electrical items
- Waterproof hard cases for medications
- Rubber or waterproof boots
- Extra clothing
When Things Get Hot
Bandana to dampen and place over mouthWild fire and compromised air quality challenges? Pack the following:
- Respirator or strong face mask for those with severe asthma (see physician to better understand what type to purchase)
- Eye goggles to protect eyes from irritation
Keep your Emergency kit fresh and replenish every few months.
Source: Moassessi, Caroline. “Emergency Planning With Asthma, Allergies and Celiac Disease | Allergic Living.” Allergic Living Emergency Planning With Asthma Allergies and Celiac Disease Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2015.
1 Plan early and choose hotels wisely. Understand your allergic triggers and research the best accommodations based on those needs. For example, having a kitchen in your room will be useful for preparing your meals if you have a food allergy and do not plan to eat out. Some hotels also now have special technology to remove many environmental allergy triggers.
2. Air travel accommodations. Inform the airline of your food allergies when booking and ask to review their allergy policy. Inform the flight attendant of your allergies when boarding and bring cleaning wipes to clean the seat and tray tables.
3. Eating out while traveling. Call ahead to ask about food allergy policies and inquire about safe alternatives. Speak to the chef and share your food allergies. Consider visiting chains that have food allergy policies in place.
4. Rental car caveats. If you plan to rent a car, request a nonsmoking vehicle and make sure it has been cleaned. Pack safe snacks and meals for the ride in case there are no safe restaurants along the way.
5. Be prepared for foreign affairs. Find out if your insurance policy covers out-of-country medical services. Carry a copy of your allergy or asthma action plan and an extra supply of your medications. Make sure you have important information translated into the appropriate language in the event medical services are needed. Wear medical identification jewelry and know where the nearest hospital is located.
Source: Winders, Tonya. “5 Tips for Traveling with Allergies.” Florida Today. N.p., 26 Jan. 2015. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.