Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Asthma - What it means for student-athletes

Please further educate yourself on what Asthma is and how to live with it.  Below are only a few suggustions.

When you have asthma, your airways narrow and swell. They produce extra mucus, and breathing becomes difficult. The most common asthma signs and symptoms are coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. For some people, asthma symptoms are a minor nuisance. For others, they're a major problem that interferes with daily activities. If you have severe asthma, you may be at risk of a life-threatening asthma attack. (Mayo Clinic staff)

·         1 in 15 Americans suffers from asthma
·         5,000 people a day visit the ER due to asthma
·         Asthma is more common among children than adults
·         Asthma is slightly more prevalent among African American than Caucasians
·         Every day in America 11 people die from asthma, and more than 4,000 deaths a year due to asthma

As a student-athlete you have many demands, but one of your top priorities is your health.  Thousands of student-athletes will be returning to college campuses around the country in the coming weeks, and for many it will be the first time away from home.  So what does this mean?  It means many of these student-athletes have never been responsible for their own well-being including illnesses and medications. 


Parents: Please prepare your young adult by ensuring their medical file is in order and prepared to go off to college.  Maybe even remind your student-athletes of some of their triggers for asthma, and to give extra inhalers to the medial staff.  Help them develop a plan of action for managing their asthma and make sure others know what that plan is.

Athletes:  Make sure to carry your inhaler with you at all times (backpack, purse, etc…), you will be exposed to a number of new environments and knowing your triggers will be important.  Also make sure your doctor knows you are asthmatic and what medications and/or supplements you are taking.  This is not the time to be shy or afraid of what others may think, not disclosing all of your medications or supplements could be hazardous to your health.

Medications (examples)

·         Inhaled corticosteroids (not banned for NCAA)
·         Leukotriene modifiers (not banned for NCAA)
·         Long-acting beta agonists (Permitted if prescribed for NCAA, otherwise banned)
·         Short-acting beta agonists (Permitted if prescribed for NCAA, otherwise banned)
Lastly, as an asthmatic I know the difficulties of managing school, sports, work, and life.  I’ve had asthma since I was a young child, and spent many nights in the hospital as a result.  As I grew older, I became stronger and more knowledgable about how to handle my asthma.  Having asthma can sometimes just suck!  Some days you feel great and have the ability to run, shoot, jump, etc…forever, and then there are the days that your chest feels like it is on fire and you are drowning with no air.  If you have asthma I’m sure you’ve experienced those sleepless nights full of wheezing and shortness of breath.  So be prepared to treat and prevent flare-ups.

Here are my tips for managing your triggers:

·         Avoid smokers at all cost (cigarettes, marijuana, bars, etc…)
·         Keep your dorm, apartment house clean (dust often), but I recommend using mild cleansers as the more potent ones always caused me a great deal of trouble
·         Watch for changing weather, especially warm to cold.  I had some of my worst flair ups in the fall and winter.  If it is cold outside make sure to cover you face to avoid directly inhaling the cold air.
·         Hot humid weather paired with some asthma medications can also create a problem, so stay hydrated.
·         Eat your fruits and vegetables!  They contain antioxidants that help boost immune function.
NCAA student-athletes please make sure to report all medications to your ATC and medical staff.

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