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Teens and Asthma

Challenge #1: She's sitting on the sidelines.

As many as 90% of asthmatic kids will experience exercise-induced asthma as they get older, says Frank Virant, M.D., chief of the allergy division at Seattle Children's Hospital. "We often see exercise being a trigger by age 10. As kids get bigger and can do more physically, flare-ups tend to increase." This might mean your child struggles to get field time at soccer practice because she's easily winded. "Coaches may mistakenly think a kid with asthma can't do certain activities at a high level," says Dr. Virant. "Plus, some kids are hesitant to complain about symptoms because they don't want to seem 'wimpy.'"

Explain to your tween or teen that wheezing and coughing aren't signs of weakness or being out of shape—they're signals that her immune system is overreacting and needs to be calmed down. Have your doctor write a note to your child's gym teachers and coaches letting them know she can participate in sports and has medicine on hand.

Be proactive and ask gym teachers to plan activities indoors on very cold or very hot and humid days, which can also minimize problems. And say this: "My child is on an effective medical regimen and can participate in sports. But if you notice symptoms, please let me know. Her doctor can adjust her meds."