Asthma affects more than seven million American kids and teens. That’s almost 1 in 10! May is Asthma Awareness Month, and Texas Emergency Care Center wants to educate our patients on how to stay active while controlling their asthma symptoms.

During an asthma attack, your airways get narrow, making it hard for air to get into your lungs, and you have trouble catching your breath. You may also be wheezing, coughing or feel a tightening in your chest. There are certain things that can trigger an asthma attack, like cold or dry air, dust, pollen, air pollution, cigarette smoke, pet, mold, hard exercise or stress.

Experts don’t know for sure why physical activity sometimes brings on an asthma attack, but they suspect that fast breathing through the mouth can irritate the airways. Also, when air pollution levels are high, physical activity in the afternoon is harder on the lungs because pollution levels are higher later in the day.

If you have asthma, it’s good to be active, but you may need to take it easy with outdoor activities when the air quality is bad. This site offers air quality information by state and cities, air quality forecasts and corresponding health effects. Millions of people live in areas where air pollution can cause serious health problems. Be sure to check the air quality in your neck of the woods to help prevent a potential asthma attack.

The important thing is to keep your asthma under control. Follow your Asthma Action Plan – know and avoid your asthma triggers, always bring your inhaler and take prescribed medication (if needed). Watch these videos if you need a demonstration on how to use your asthma inhaler.

Tips for staying active with asthma:

  • Ease into it. Start your workout with a warm-up. Don’t overdo it. Build up your endurance gradually. Finish up with a cool-down.
  • Take a buddy. It’s more fun and a friend can help if you get into trouble. 
  • Take breaks.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Help your airways by breathing through your nose instead of your mouth. 
  • Take it easy on days when your asthma symptoms are really bugging you. 
  • Mix it up. For example, try going inline skating one day and taking a long walk the next. 

Speak up if you’re having symptoms. An asthma attack is serious and can be a life-threatening situation. It’s important to be aware of severe symptoms including:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Extreme shortness of breath, where you’re unable to breathe in or out fully.
  • Developing a blue tint on your face, lips or fingernails.
  • The inability to talk in full sentences.
  • Feeling confused or agitated.
  • Getting no relief from using your inhaler.

If these symptoms occur, do not hesitate – visit Texas Emergency Care Center or seek emergency help immediately. Our board certified emergency trained physicians act fast, and can help you and your loved ones manage their asthma symptoms.  

This article was pulled from the CDC Kidtastics podcast series.