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Sports Care Action Plan for Pediatric Asthma Participants

Symptoms, actions and resources to promote the full participation of children with asthma in all levels of sport.


A child with well-controlled asthma can play any sport, at any level, at any time.

However, every year in Canada, approximately 250? people die from an acute asthma attack and about 1/3 of these people were considered to have "mild" asthma. Asthma is a very treatable condition and these deaths could often have been prevented with medications and good asthma management.

Asthma must be diagnosed by a physician. Asthma triggers will make breathing difficult and often results in coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or tightness in the chest. Asthma symptoms can come and go depending on triggers in the environment where you live, play, visit or go to school; infections; allergies; and physical activity. While the symptoms of asthma may come and go, asthma is a chronic (lifelong) condition that will need attention, management and treatment. Asthma is best managed by following an Asthma Action Plan written, personalized instructions for each person with asthma that instructs them how to adjust their medications, depending on their symptoms/level of asthma control.

People with asthma who are also diagnosed with life-threatening allergies (anaphylaxis) are more susceptible to severe breathing problems when experiencing an anaphylactic reaction. This is why it is extremely important for people with asthma to keep their asthma well controlled.

What can you do?

  • Know who has asthma on your team(s).
  • Know what to do in an asthma emergency
  • Recognize the signs of poorly controlled asthma



Ask every team member with asthma:
  • What triggers your asthma?
  • Do you always have your medication with you?
  • Do you know how to take your medication?
  • Do you have an Asthma Action Plan?
Not everyone with asthma will need their medication before exercise. If they have been advised to do so by their physician, allow them to take their medication 15 minutes before starting and allow them to warm-up more slowly
  • Recommend every player with asthma has an Asthma Action Plan to follow including instructions for reliever use prior to exercise/sport
  • Remind children with asthma to bring their reliever medication to every practice/game. Make sure they have easy access to their medication at all times.
  • In the Edmonton Zone, contact the Coaches Asthma Program (2 hour group workshop) via the Manager, Allied Health Services for the Community Respiratory Services Team (780) 735-3040 or email
  • More information about asthma and sport is available. Contact the Ontario Physical Health Education Association (OPHEA). They will mail you information free-of-charge (not available online)


There are some obvious signs that asthma is not well controlled. Express your concern if you see:
  • Frequent use of blue inhaler
  • Trouble breathing after 15 minutes of activity
  • Routinely missing practices or games, often with "colds"
If a player is having obvious symptoms, for example, shortness of breath more than expected for the activity, take them out of the practice or game and have them take 1 - 2 puffs of their reliever medication. Don't make them lay down.Asthma Action Plan to take to physician?
  • Know who has asthma on your team. Remind them to bring their reliever medication to every practice/game. Make sure they have easy access to their medication at all times
  • Ask parents to consult with their physician if they do not have an Asthma Action Plan
  • Inform families that their child's asthma is flaring up with exercise/sport and may not be well controlled Ask them to follow-up with their physician
  • Send families to Alberta Chronic Asthma Pathway for patient information (link when established)


Severe symptoms may include one or more of the following:
  • Breathing very fast
  • Panting or gasping for breath
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Trouble speaking or agitated
  • Blue-grey lips or fingernails (gums will also be blue)
  • Take them out of the practice or game
  • Have an adult remain with the child at all times. Help them take their reliever medication every few minutes until they get help
  • Take the child to the nearest Emergency Department or call 911
  • Send to nearest Emergency Department