Kids who have exercise-induced asthma (EIA) develop asthma symptoms after vigorous activity, such as running, swimming, or biking. Some develop symptoms only after physical exertion, while others have additional asthma triggers. With the proper medications, most kids with EIA can play sports like any other child. In fact, asthma affects more than 20% of elite athletes, and one in every six Olympic athletes, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
As a doctor you can properly and accurately diagnose EIA after performing an exercise challenge with a pulmonary function test in your practice. You might want to target a child's tolerance for a particular exercise, as not every type or intensity of exercise affects kids with EIA the same way.
If exercise is the only asthma trigger, you may prescribe a medication for the child to take before exercising to prevent airways from tightening up. Of course, even after taking a preventive medication, asthma flare-ups can still occur and it is extremely important to monitor the child on an ongoing basis through spirometry tests and the utilization of peak flow meters during the course of treatment.
Parents or older kids should carry the proper rescue medication to all games and activities. Rescue medications work immediately to relieve asthma symptoms when they occur. The school nurse, coaches, club leaders (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc.), and teachers must be informed of a child's asthma plan of care so that kids take their medication as needed when away from home.
Additionally, asthma can be triggered by allergies. An estimated 75% to 85% of people with asthma have some type of allergy. Even if the primary triggers are colds or exercise, allergies can sometimes play a role in aggravating the condition.
Work with your patient’s parents to create an asthma action plan today. Take that next step in further caring for your patients and bring spirometry into your practice. Your patients will be correctly diagnosed so you can treat them more accurately and conveniently. Help children with asthma breathe easier and play a part in keeping them active and healthy.