Currently, more than 6.2 million kids under the age of 18 in the US have asthma, according to statistics by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. If your child is among them, you know how important it is for you to stay alert about everything they do to ensure that they never suffer from asthma flare-ups or attacks. One thing you must be particularly vigilant about is your child’s playing habits. No matter how much you want your child to have a normal life playing outside like the other kids, there are many risks involved for a child with asthma. Thankfully, there are various precautions you can take before allowing your child to play outside.
Choose a suitable sport
Not all sports are safe for a child with asthma. The most ideal sports are those that give your child plenty of opportunities to take rests while playing to prevent triggering asthma flare-ups. Sports like football, baseball, gymnastics, and gentle biking are great choices. On the other hand, endurance sports like soccer, basketball and long-distance running may not be a good fit for an asthmatic child since they demand a lot of energy without much rest time. Such sports can easily trigger exercise-induced asthma, where your child develops asthma symptoms like wheezing, lasting shortness of breath, coughing and chest pain during or after playing. Cold-weather sports like ice hockey or skiing can also be dangerous when your child inhales cold air.
Carefully examine the playing environment
Whether your child is playing in your backyard, at a local park, or in the school playground, always ensure that it’s a safe environment. First of all, do not allow your child to play outside during bad weather days. Playing outside when there is rain, snow or strong winds can make your child’s lung airways narrower, blocking airflow and making it harder for them to breathe. If they must play outside when it’s cold, ensure that they have warm clothing and a warm scarf covering their nose and mouth to ensure that they're breathing in warm air.
It's also a good idea to check your local pollen counts. According to studies, pollen exposure is a major trigger for childhood asthma exacerbations. Another potential hazard to look out for is pests, particularly when your child is playing in your backyard. Some household pests like cockroaches, bedbugs, and rodents can be dangerous for an asthmatic child. For example, rodents in your backyard may leave allergens that constrict airways, disrupt regular breathing, or even cause a full-blown asthma attack to your child if they play there. Make sure you do regular inspections to get rid of dangerous pests like these.
Take the necessary medication
To keep asthma under control when your child is playing, ensure that they take their asthma medication as prescribed. First of all, ensure that your child takes their preventer inhaler for protection against triggers that may cause flare-ups. To be on the safe side, you should also ensure that your child always has their reliever inhaler or any other quick-relief medicine to use if they get asthma symptoms while playing. If you're not there to supervise, always ensure that the babysitter, family member, or teacher looking after your child has a copy of their asthma action plan so that they know what to do if they spot symptoms.
Even if your child has asthma, they can still have fun playing outside like the other kids, but it's important to take the necessary precautions to keep them safe. However, if your child still gets asthma symptoms even after you take precautions, consult your doctor or asthma nurse to ensure that they're on the right medicine, taking inhalers the right way, and using an up-to-date asthma action plan.