Houston Area Pediatric Specialists

Independent pediatric specialists aim to serve our community. We want to share news and analysis regarding our specialties and our practices.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Have Asthma? Don't Say No To Exercise

There is a lot of confusion about asthma and its relationship to exercise.  Most athletes I treat DO NOT require any restrictions when it comes to sports.  Dr S.

Asthma doesn't have to mean game over for athletes

Sixteen-year-old basketball standout Larry Austin Jr. is doing what a doctor thought unlikely, given his asthma.
“Actually, my doctor told me awhile ago that I’d never play a sport,” says Austin, who has college basketball scholarship offers and plans to compete for a spot on the USA Basketball under-17 team that will play in the World Championships this summer.
Austin, who will be a junior this fall at Lanphier High School, said his asthma symptoms include a lot of sneezing and a nose that is “stopped up.” He’s battled asthma since he was 3 months old.
Time with a nebulizer and sometimes an inhaler helps Austin before basketball games. He says he hasn’t had any problems with asthma this year.
“I started to grow out of it, slowly,” he says.
A chronic lung disease that makes air movement in and out of lungs difficult, asthma can be managed but not cured. In asthma, the lungs’ airways (bronchi) become inflamed and can spasm, causing shortness of breath and wheezing. The exact cause isn’t known, but certain “triggers” (a condition, thing or activity) can make asthma worse.
Some refer to asthma that worsens with exercise as “exercise-induced” asthma. But that term can be misleading, say local medical doctors.
“Usually, the term ‘exercise-induced’ asthma is used. Potentially, it’s just episodic bronchial constriction, which follows exercising patients who have asthma,” says Dr. Anwar Shafi, assistant professor of pediatrics, specializing in pediatric pulmonology, at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
“I think ‘exercise-induced asthma’ is potentially misleading because exercise is not an independent risk for asthma. It’s just a trigger for bronchial constriction in patients who have underlying asthma.”
Initially, it was thought that Austin’s asthma was exercise-induced, but it was later learned that allergens are his triggers.
“It took a lot of trips going to the hospital, being admitted into the hospital before they identified what was really causing it,” said Larry’s mother, Christa Austin, who adds that her son receives allergy shots every 20 days for maintenance.
Other side of the coin
Shafi says exercise can be a trigger for some of his asthmatic patients.
“When we see patients, we take a careful history ... we try to determine if the child has asthma ... (with) typical symptoms of asthma: cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness,” Shafi says.
“Then we try to ascertain what can be the triggers. It depends on the age. Usually in children, viral infections are the most common cause for triggering asthma symptoms. If they do have significant allergies, then allergens can be a trigger for their asthma as well.”

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