Lung disease is not a barrier to participation.

Q: My son is nervous about playing football this season because of his asthma. How can I make sure my son feels confident on the field without worrying about having an attack?

A: As fall sports get into full swing, some parents and young athletes believe such activities are off-limits when trying to avoid asthma triggers. On the contrary, pediatricians actually encourage patients with asthma to participate in physical activity. Getting regular exercise is one of the best things children can do for their lungs, and by working with their pediatrician, they can address possible triggers and discuss treatment options.

There are steps parents can take to ensure their young athlete has a healthy, successful season. A common course of treatment is the use of a short-acting inhaler at least 15 to 20 minutes before exercise. To prevent asthma problems during play, athletes should warm up thoroughly before participating in strenuous activities.

In the game, athletes shouldn't be reluctant to either use their inhaler or remove themselves from play if symptoms occur. Too often, children are embarrassed about how their coaches and teammates may feel if they stop to catch a breath. What they don't realize is they won't play to their full potential unless they follow their doctor's orders.

By addressing signs and symptoms of asthma and discussing preventable measures with their pediatrician, parents can feel confident their child will do his or her best without worrying about their health opponent.

Always consult your child's pediatrician concerning your child's health.

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David Stukus, M.D., is an allergy and immunology physician at Nationwide Children's Hospital.