Asthma is the most common chronic condition in children worldwide. The rate of over diagnosis is high, particularly if it is not confirmed by spirometry (pulmonary function testing). The relationship of asthma and physical activity is particularly important for children. A physically active lifestyle is associated with many beneficial health outcomes.
Several studies have investigated whether physical activity is reduced in children with asthma, but the results have been inconsistent. Some studies have found that children with asthma were less active than their peers. A recent study published in the Annals of Allergy Asthma and Immunology looked into the time spent in physical activity in children and adolescents diagnosed with asthma.
Overall it was found that the diagnosis of asthma was not associated with time spent in physical activity across age ranges 6-14 years of age. The fact that children with suspected asthma were not less active than those without asthma may enable individuals to to be more physically active.
It is important that if a child has asthma that their physical activity should not be limited. If a child or adolescent is unable to perform in gym class or after school sports, you should speak to your asthma and allergy doctor. Your doctor will go over a detailed history, perform a pulmonary function test and categorize your child’s asthma. Based on the severity there are several treatment options available. Most children will fall into the mild intermittent range. Those patients will require albuterol on an “as needed” basis only. Some children may be diagnosed with exercise induced asthma, the treatment for that would be albuterol inhalation prior to physical activity or a medication called Singulair (generic name Montelukast). If the asthma is more than just mild, your doctor may prescribe what’s called a maintenance or daily therapy to help control asthma symptoms.
The main take away from this is that children with asthma should still participate in all activities and not be limited because of their asthma, if they are, make an appointment with an asthma specialist to discuss treatment options.