Pediatric asthma: A backpack checklist

Just because your child has asthma does not mean he or she cannot participate in a school sport this year. Kristie Ross, MD, a pediatric pulmonologist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, says, “Just be sure to fill a backpack with everything your child needs to exercise safely.”

Pack the following items:

  • Quick-relief inhaler. This type of inhaled asthma medicine is used at the first sign of symptoms. “It acts fast to improve coughing, wheezing or chest tightness that has already begun,” says Dr. Ross. “Your child should always keep it handy when exercising in case problems arise.” Some children do best when they use quick-relief medicines before planned exercise. Check with your doctor to see whether this is right for your child.
  • Spacer or valved holding device. Most children need to use a spacer or valved holding device for quick-relief medicines to get into the lungs. Ask your child’s doctor whether he or she needs one and ask the doctor or pharmacist to show you and your child how to use it.
  • Water bottle. Drinking water is important for your child to feel his or her best during exercise.
  • Emergency contacts. Your child should have your cell, home and work phone numbers as well as the doctor’s name and number.
  • Safety gear. Do not forget other gear needed for your child’s sport. “Examples include a helmet, a mouth guard, sports goggles, wrist guards or knee pads,” says Dr. Ross.
  • Asthma action plan. Pack a copy of the asthma action plan you and your doctor develop to help your child and the coaches know what to do if asthma starts acting up during practice or a game.
Kristie Ross

Pediatric Pulmonologist, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

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