SublettQ: My boy has asthma but loves playing sports. Can kids with asthma grow up to be sports heroes?

Absolutely yes! To do that, though, you’ll need to get and keep asthma symptoms under control.

Many kids with asthma don’t wheeze or cough except when they exercise — especially during practice, since during a game they can pace themselves between plays. When running sprints, however, you may see them stop with their hands on their knees for a minute trying to catch their breath and then they’ll  go on.

In my office we test lung function (spirometry) to see how well kids’ lungs are functioning. We make sure they are on the right daily medications such as inhaled corticosteroids to get the best control possible. We often recommend they use a bronchodilator inhaler before exercise.

Eight out of 10 times allergy is a trigger, so we might perform skin tests to determine a child’s allergies. We recommend reducing specific allergen levels in the home or other indoor areas as much as possible  so that kids aren’t so affected when they’re on the field. We also want to avoic exposure to irritants, especially secondhand smoke, which can cause a child’s asthma to flare.

James Sublett, MD, is a board-certified allergist  at Family Asthma and Allergy in Louisville, KY. Hear this complete interview at or

Sponsored by American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI)