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.

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.