Gearing up for fall sports exasperates asthma threat

It’s common to see athletes coughing and wheezing on playing fields and in gyms as they go through intense conditioning drills prior to the start of their fall seasons. But for asthma sufferers, gasping for air is a serious concern.

A near-perfect trifecta – the scorching heat, poor air-quality conditions, and demanding exercises – together creates the threat of increased attacks for asthma sufferers. Before fall-sport schedules begin, they need to ensure their condition is well-controlled.

Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, who leads the division of allergy and immunology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, recommends the following:

  • See a pediatrician, internist, or asthma specialist (for individuals with moderate to severe cases) to ensure that asthma is properly controlled.
  • At the appointment, be prepared to answer questions about the frequency of symptoms, use of an albuterol (short-acting inhaled bronchodilator), and sleep interruptions caused by asthma.

It is imperative that school nurses, trainers, and coaches know about and pay close attention to athletes who suffer from asthma. Dr. Gruchalla recommends that athletes be allowed to ease into practice to see how well they tolerate exercising in the heat or in demanding conditions.

Coaches should be alert for the signs and symptoms of asthma, which include shortness of breath, fatigue, chest tightness, coughs, and wheezing. Everyone should exercise extra caution on extremely hot days and high-pollution days.

Visit www.utsouthwestern.org/allergy to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services for asthma and allergies.

Media Contact: Lisa Ashley Warshaw

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