Don’t Let Asthma Keep you off the Field

With the Super Bowl approaching, football fever is in the air. People love to watch it—and to play it. At the high school level, football attracts more participants than any other sport. (Over 1 million youth participate.)

Don’t Let Asthma Keep you off the Field

(Freeimages / Jennifer Marr)

For those who love playing the game, though, allergies can get in the way. Grass allergies are among the most common—a big problem considering that most practices and games are played on grass-covered fields. Allergies are often manifest through asthma—another big deterrent to athletic performance.

The immune system is hardwired to fight off bad things like germs and bacteria. Allergies occur when the immune system gets confused and thinks harmless things like pollen granules are the enemy. The immune system fights back by releasing chemicals into the body that cause allergy symptoms including asthma, coughing, eczema, hay fever, and headaches.

But allergies and asthma don’t need to keep a good athlete down. Athletes like former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis proved that. “The Bus,” as Bettis was known, was diagnosed with asthma as a teenager but was able to successfully manage it. Not only did he play in the NFL, he also helped his team win a Super Bowl championship in 2006.

The trick is to successfully manage your allergies and asthma with the help of your physician. Medications such as pills and inhalers can help control your symptoms. Allergy treatment may also be appropriate if your allergies or asthma are significantly diminishing your quality of life or if they span more than a few months of the year.

Allergy treatment is available through allergy shots (subcutaneous immunotherapy) or through oral allergy drops (sublingual immunotherapy). Your doctor can help you learn more about allergy testing and about the cost of allergy drops in comparison to allergy shots.

Shots and drops are appropriate for kids over age 7. Allergy drops are safe for kids younger than age 5 because they have a higher safety profile. Both allergy shots and drops can be prescribed for dog and cat allergies as well as dust, mold and pollen allergies.