Physical activity is necessary for people of all ages, but children need it to develop their growing bones and muscles. According to the World Health Organization, those between 5 and 17 need an average of 60 minutes per day. However, your child might resist getting in the game if a health condition makes movement uncomfortable.
Children with asthma often struggle to get sufficient physical activity. Attacks can cause embarrassment in sensitive youth, and they may avoid active play to keep from triggering one. However, doing so can harm their overall health and development.
What are the signs of an asthma flare-up in children? How can you help a child with asthma thrive and enjoy physical activity? Here’s what you need to know about childhood asthma and physical activity.
Researchers remain unsure of what causes asthma in children. However, a family history, parental smoking during pregnancy and early childhood respiratory viruses increase the risk.
You may first notice signs of asthma flare-ups in children, such as fast breathing and wheezing, when your child is an infant or toddler. Pay attention and contact your doctor, especially if your little one also manifests the following signs:
Working harder to breathe: Your child’s nostrils may flare, their skin may suck in along their ribs and they may exaggerate their belly movements.
Unwillingness to suck or eat: Asthma makes breathing so hard that your child may struggle to eat.
Excessive tiredness: Lack of oxygen drains energy.
Cyanosis refers to a bluish tinge in the extremities and mucous membranes like the tongue and lips.
Fortunately, technology provides new promise for the early detection of asthma in infants. Your physician may use an oscillometry device to verify the diagnosis. It’s wise to have your child tested at the first sign of trouble so that you can prepare meaningful interventions and learn how to help a child with asthma thrive.
All human beings require physical activity — without it, muscles atrophy, metabolism slows and blood flow to vital organs decreases. However, it’s understandable that your child doesn’t want to run a 200-yard dash if doing so leaves them doubled over, wheezing and gasping for air.
It’s not hard to see the inverse relationship between asthma and physical activity in children, but you must take steps to get your child moving despite their condition. What can you do?
Your best bet is to find activities that your child adores that don’t trigger attacks, such as the following:
Swimming: Swimming may be the perfect activity for children with asthma. The moist air is less likely to trigger wheezing, and the water keeps the surrounding pollen count low. The water’s buoyancy also relieves chest pressure. Adding styrofoam water weights helps your child build muscle, using the liquid as resistance.
Walking: Walking is free and gets your child’s muscles moving without the high-intensity triggers that running often produces. Get in the habit of taking a family walk after dinner — it will bring you closer and nurture everyone’s health.
Sports with short bursts of activity: Kids love sports, and baseball, golf or indoor gymnastics lets them rest between bouts of more intense training.
How else can you help a child with asthma get moving besides suggesting activities? Keep an eye on the pollen count before heading outdoors, and select indoor activities on days when it soars too high. Have your child use their inhaler before exercise, and consider masking up — it reduces the number of particulates your child inhales while decreasing their infectious disease risk.
Holistic treatments complement therapies like inhalers. Here are several steps you can take to reduce your child’s risk of an attack.
Pollen isn’t the only allergen. Certain foods can trigger inflammation in the bronchial passages, causing attacks or making them more prone. Try cutting out common triggers like shellfish, dairy, mushrooms and gluten, taking an elimination diet approach to see if symptoms improve.
Mold can trigger an asthma attack regardless of whether you have an allergy. Fix plumbing leaks immediately and replace absorbent materials like rugs if they become wet. Dry wet items like towels within 24 to 48 hours, using a dehumidifier if you live somewhere like east Texas. Use your bathroom exhaust fan and clean your refrigerator’s and air conditioner’s drip pans.
Please keep your child’s bedding clean by laundering it at least once a week and flipping and vacuuming their mattress each month. Use allergy-safe pillow and mattress covers to reduce mites and avoid down pillows and comforters. Vacuum floors regularly using a device equipped with a HEPA filter.
Clean up any crumbs or messes to deter bugs. Get those stacks of old cardboard boxes out of your garage, as they provide breeding grounds. Keep trash in a closed container and seal any cracks providing ingress to your home. You might consider professional pest control treatments, but talk to your tech before application to ensure their products won’t trigger an attack.
Children need exercise to develop healthy muscles and bones. However, the trouble with childhood asthma and physical activity is that your child’s condition may keep them out of the game.
However, you can use the tips above to help a child with asthma thrive and get the movement they need. Learn to recognize the signs of asthma flare-ups in your child and take action.
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