Athletes Can Carry on in Spite of Asthma

The 52nd Super Bowl is slated for February 4 and will be played at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. It has been 26 years since the Super Bowl was played in Minnesota. Over 111 million Americans tuned into last year’s Super Bowl game and are expected to do the same this year. And just as we love to watch football, we love to play it, too. Football is the most popular sport to participate in at the high school level, with over 1 million teenagers playing.

Athletes Carry on in Spite of Asthma

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One thing can stand in the way of a football player and the game, however, and that’s allergies and asthma. Grass allergy can throw football players for a loop since practices and games are often played on grassy fields. Grass allergies can inflame the airways, leading to wheezing and asthma.

Famous asthmatic football players

Young football players do not need to be discouraged by their health battles, however. Many players made it big in spite of their asthma. These include NFL players such as linebackers Christ Draft and Larry English, defensive linemen Leonard Little and Adam Carriker, and cornerback Ellis Lankster. These players have come together through the Chris Draft Family Foundation to share the stories of their respective battles with asthma.

Why asthma?

In a perfect world, the body would simply ignore things like grass pollens that tend to stir up allergies. In real life, though, the immune system can get confused and perceive the grass pollens as enemy invaders. The body will then attempt to fight the invaders off by releasing histamine and other chemicals into the body. These chemicals can cause the respiratory passages to swell, making it difficult for people to breathe—hence the link between allergies and asthma.

Fortunately, asthma can be managed through a number of treatments and medications. If allergies are at the root of your asthma or your child’s asthma, it is important to treat the underlying allergy first. Otherwise, you’ll just be treating symptoms and ignoring the source of the problem.

Allergy immunotherapy

Allergy immunotherapy is the only treatment that has been shown to alter allergic disease. It is available through allergy shots or under-the-tongue allergy drops (also known as sublingual immunotherapy). Both treatments can help desensitize the body to allergens in the environment that trigger symptoms. Allergy shots must be administered at the doctor’s office, but allergy drops have a higher safety profile and can be taken at home. Many people opt for allergy drops for kids because they are safer and easier to administer.

Food allergies can also contribute to asthma. Food allergies are a rapidly increasing problem, affecting an average of two kids per classroom. Sublingual immunotherapy drops have been shown to be an effective treatment for food allergies as well as environmental allergies. Contact a sublingual immunotherapy clinic to find out more about milk, wheat, and nut allergy treatment using oral allergy drops. Your doctor can use a food allergy treatment kit to determine the scope of your allergies.

Asthma doesn’t have to be a game changer. Thanks to modern medical advances, there are ways to keep the disease in check and continue playing football and other sports.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.