Help for Athletes with Allergy-related Asthma

SuperBowl LIII is coming up on February 3. With football fever in the air, we wanted to highlight an athlete who has overcome health challenges and continued to devote himself to the sport he loves. Christ Draft fits this profile. Many Americans know Draft for his 12-year career as an NFL linebacker, tackling up a storm for the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, and Washington Redskins. What they may not know is that Draft faced a far larger foe than football opponents: asthma.

Help for Athletes with Allergy-related Asthma

(Pixabay / filterssofly)

Draft’s asthma developed when he was playing college football for Stanford. On the field, Draft would begin coughing so badly that he would throw up at times. Doctors were perplexed, and it took a lot of persistence on Draft’s part to get an accurate diagnosis. With the help of an allergy doctor, he was able to learn to manage his asthma so that he could continue to pursue his dream of playing college and, ultimately, pro football.

Draft now reaches out to people with asthma across the country to educate them about the disease and inspire them not to let it get the best of them.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a condition that causes people’s airways to become inflamed and produce excess mucus. When this happens, the asthma sufferer may find it difficult to breathe.

What causes asthma?

In many cases, asthma is triggered by allergies. The body perceives pollen, mold and other allergens in the environment as “enemy invaders” and attempts to fight them off by releasing chemicals into the body. These chemicals only serve to weaken the body and can lead to many health problems, including asthma.

Can you still play sports if you have asthma?

For athletes who practice and play outdoors, allergens have ample opportunity to wreak havoc. Hours of football practice on grassy fields, for example, can expose players to grass pollens that can stir up asthma symptoms relentlessly.

Fortunately, asthma doesn’t have to sideline players. All you have to do is look at players like Chris Draft to see that. The trick is to work closely with your allergy doctor to learn how to manage your symptoms. Medications can help keep symptoms at bay for temporary bouts of allergy-related asthma. If problems persist, patients should talk to their doctor about allergy immunotherapy. While medications can improve symptoms in the short-term, only allergy immunotherapy has been shown to alter the underlying allergy for long-term relief. And because sublingual immunotherapy is a natural allergy treatment, it is free from the side effects that accompany many synthetic asthma drugs.

Allergy immunotherapy desensitizes the body to allergens in the environment so that it will stop overreacting to them with irritating and, in some cases, life-threatening symptoms. It has long been available through allergy shots, but more recently, doctors are prescribing the treatment in the form of liquid allergy drops that can be dispensed under the tongue and absorbed into the bloodstream through specialized cells in the mouth.

To find out more about how sublingual immunotherapy can help asthmatic athletes achieve long-term relief and continue to play the sports they love, contact AllergyEasy. We have helped many athletes overcome symptoms and stay in the game.

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.