Asthma – SportMed Soccer

Millions of people worldwide suffer from asthma. Soccer stars are no exception. In 2009, David Beckham revealed he had been suffering from asthma for years after he was caught on camera using an inhaler.

It’s a condition where the smooth muscles around the air passages in the lungs constrict, and copious amounts of mucous are produced, making breathing difficult. Allergic reactions, exposure to extreme environments, and adverse response to strenuous exercise can precipitate an asthma attack. Asthma in its various forms can seriously affect athletic performance. However, it can usually be controlled through the proper use of medication.

Signs and symptoms include tightness in the chest with difficulty breathing, particularly exhaling. Wheezing and anxiety can occur, and the athlete’s pulse may dramatically increase.

More tips at the Province Sports Academy.

If an attack takes place on-site, reassure the athlete that they will be OK. Place them in a comfortable position, encouraging the player to perform controlled breathing exercises (deep breaths). If the athlete’s doctor has cleared them for it, assist the player in administering their asthma medication (usually only one or two puffs of an inhaler). Monitor their breathing, pulse rate and skin colour. If the athlete does not improve after medication use, send for emergency medical assistance.

Certain scenarios can be avoided with the proper preparation. Be aware of your athletes who have asthma and ensure they bring their medication -usually inhalers -to training and matches. Monitor asthmatic athletes who compete in extreme environments. Never permit athletes to share their medication.

A proper warm-up of about 15-minutes of light exercise (60% VO2 max) followed by two puffs on their inhaler should protect them against attacks in subsequent intense exercise. A proper cool down of 15 minutes may help prevent delayed onset attacks after exercise.

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