Bright Futures at Georgetown University
Bright Futures in Practice: Physical Activity


Frequently Asked Questions About Physical Activity and Asthma

Will my child always have asthma?

Some children and adolescents outgrow asthma, but many don't. Children and adolescents with allergies or severe asthma are least likely to outgrow asthma. Asthma may disappear when children reach adolescence, when the size of the airways increases. However, asthma may return when they become adults.

My oldest child has asthma. Will my younger children develop it?

Asthma tends to run in families. However, the fact that your oldest child has asthma does not mean that your younger children will develop it. Children with allergies or eczema have a higher risk of developing asthma.

Can I do anything to prevent my child from having asthma attacks?

There are many steps you can take to reduce the chances of your child having an asthma attack. Have your child tested for allergies to identify triggers, and then try to eliminate them from your home. If your child is too young for testing and there is a family history of allergy, allergy-proofing the house may help. Do not allow smoking in your house. Exposure to tobacco smoke can increase the likelihood of asthma attacks.

My 9-year-old son has asthma. Should I let him participate in physical education classes?

Children and adolescents with asthma should be encouraged to participate in physical education classes and physical activities they enjoy. Some children and adolescents with asthma may need to take medication in order to participate in physical activity. If your son has difficulty breathing during or after physical activity, talk to a health professional and his physical education teacher about developing an asthma-management plan that will allow him to participate in physical education classes.

Will asthma have any long-term effects on my child?

Asthma can cause lung damage if it is poorly controlled. Repeated episodes of asthma may affect your child's breathing capacity later in life. This can be avoided if asthma is properly controlled during childhood and adolescence.

Resources for Families

See Tool F: Physical Activity Resources for contact information on national organizations that can provide information on physical activity. State and local departments of public health and education and local libraries are additional sources of information.

MindJourney. 1996. The Clubhouse Kids Learn About Asthma. Raleigh, NC: MindJourney.

National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. 1995. Asthma and Physical Activity in School: Making a Difference. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Richard M, Schneider S. 1994. You Can Control Asthma. Washington, DC: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

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