Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Check young athletes for asthma on the field

…In the late 1990s, a certified athletic trainer at Temple Univ noticed kids coming off the football field wheezing and coughing.

…HS age kids can die of asthma or its close cuz, exercise bronchospasm.

…Rogers started poking around—60 HS kids had died in the five years preceding.

…Rogers went to a critical care doc at Temple and laid out the facts. The two subscribed to a clipping service, gathering stories.

…Then they did a study of 238 male, HS varsity football players, average age 16 (Chest, 1998). The athletes filled out a form, then took a one-mile run. Peak flow times (how open their airways were) were measured prior to the run then three times afterwards. Twenty-four of the 238 had treated asthma.

…But exercise bronchospasm was diagnosed in 19 of the others—a high 9%.

…The doc was stunned—we check kids for high BP, but as many as 18% may have asthma no one kew about.

…The coaches knew they were dealing with two groups—the treated who were in poor control was one group. The second group felt tightness in their chests during practice, or had trouble breathing or got more winded than their peers, but had tested normal at the doctor’s office in nice, cool, air conditioned surroundings.

…The football field, gym, or in the pool tests the kid with pollen, chlorine, dust and other factors in place.

…Kids may not even know they are not feeling like everyone else. Someone may say, “Man, that was brutal” and the kid nods, was.

…By testing in situ—on the field—the coach finds from 8-18% previously undetected asthma.

…Pro athletes show similar results.

…The coach thinks such testing should be routine. Parents will have to demand it.

…Under the Asthma Watch program, an asthmatic athlete must have his or her inhaler during play or practice.

…More than two “rescues” an exercise period or three times a week—trip to the doctor.

…For coach Rogers, the sad part? Kids may not be diagnosed early and if they are good athletes, they could have been even greater!

…In some cases, they might still be alive, too.

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