How To Recognize Exercise Induced Asthma

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Exercise and sports that require continuous activity, especially running and cold-weather activities, can induce asthmatic symptoms. Exercise-induced asthma affects about 17 million Americans, many of which are children.

Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, breathing difficulty and shortness of breath. Children with exercise-induced asthma often start to experience symptoms five to 20 minutes after they begin to exercise.

Recognizing exercise-induced asthma in your child can be difficult because symptoms often take a subtle form. Your child may complain that he cannot run as quickly as friends or may express a dislike for sports. Avoiding sports or physical activity limits quality of life for some children and can lead to problems with fellow students and low self-esteem.

Sports that may act as triggers for exercise-induced asthma include soccer, basketball, field hockey, long-distance running, cross-country skiing and hockey.

“There is no cure for exercise-induced asthma,” said Dr. Michael Kaliner, medical director of the Institute for Asthma and Allergy in Chevy Chase, Md. “But by preventing inflammation, you can successfully reduce the chances of having an asthmatic attack.”

It is important for children to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.

“For children 5 years and older, one option is Intal,” Kaliner said. “It works by preventing certain cells from releasing substances that may cause inflammation in the air passages. It is important to note that Intal should be used prior to engaging in exercise, as it cannot treat acute asthma attacks.”

It is also a good idea to provide your child’s gym teacher or coach with written instructions, including:

* The nature and severity of the exercise-induced asthma

* Which medicines are used to prevent it and how to use them

* Techniques to avoid exercise-induced asthma, including a sufficient warm-up period

* Warning signs when your child is experiencing an asthma attack

With appropriate management, most children are able to exercise and perform to their full ability.

The most common side effects from Intal therapy in controlled clinical studies were throat irritation or dryness, unpleasant taste, cough, wheeze and nausea. Intal Inhaler should not be used in patients who have shown hypersensitivity to cromolyn sodium or other ingredients in this product. Intal has no role in the treatment of an acute asthma attack.

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