By Carol Bogart

My son, Mike, and I used to get into some hellacious fights. Mostly about homework. During one of these screamfests, something happened that really scared me.

In mid-tantrum, suddenly my 11-year-old began hyperventilating. He absolutely could not catch his breath. As his face turned red and he gasped for air, I pulled him into my lap, holding and soothing him until he started to calm down. Finally, his chest stopped heaving.

It may have been that same year that, after a hockey game in which he’d scored two goals, he mentioned how hard it was to breathe when he chased a puck down the ice. I took him to the doctor.

The doctor sent him to the hospital for a treadmill and other tests. The diagnosis: exercise-induced asthma. The disorder, which frequently begins in childhood, can also be triggered by extreme emotion.

Luckily for Mike, he only occasionally needed his prescribed inhaler, although even today at 21, when he plays drop in hockey, he keeps it with him.

It’s good that he has always loved hockey so much that he didn’t let a little thing like suffocation slow him down. Many children, experts say, have so much trouble breathing when they play sports that they just give up – setting them up for adult diseases linked to sedentary lifestyles such as heart disease, lower back pain and osteoporosis.

It’s estimated that 8-million Americans are affected by asthma, a potentially disabling lung disorder. Doctors at Children’s Hospital in Boston recommend the following if your child has exercise-induced asthma:

• Perform a warm-up (15 minutes light intensity, followed by 15 minutes, moderate-to-high intensity) before training or competitions
• Avoid training in cool or dry weather conditions
• Avoid training in areas such as forests or grass fields where there may be pollen
• Avoid training in polluted air
• Wear a face mask when training in cold weather conditions

Like Mike, who refused to give up hockey, there’s no reason asthma should keep your son or daughter from enjoying sports. The key, experts say, is proper conditioning. And who knows? One day that kid might just knock down a college scholarship as an “Asthma Athlete.”

Carol Bogart blogs at http://carolbogart.blogspot.com. Contact her at 3bogart@sbcglobal.net.

Interested in the “Will to Win” Schering/Key Asthma Athlete Scholarship? For more information, write: Schering/Key “Will to Win” Asthma Athlete Scholarship, 2918 North 72 nd Street, Omaha, NE 68134 or call (800) 558-7305.

To learn more about asthma, visit the American Lung Association at www.lungusa.org. 

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