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Asthma and Exercise. What would you do?


I wonder if anyone can help me here?

I help out in a childen's choir and one of the new boys has asthma. The kids tend to have a run around first before the practice begins, and this boy became really wheezy. On the medical form his mum had recorded that he had mild asthma but when I asked about keeping an inhaler for him she said that it wouldn't be necessary. As a result, on his first day, this boy sat and wheezed very audibly for about 25 minutes before it settled down as there was nothing I could give him. I spoke to the mum about it later and the next day she bought in a ventolin inhaler for him and spacer.

Before the kids went out to run around today I asked if he should use his inhaler, but the boy told me it was just for emergencies. Fine, but then again he came in really wheezy, and needed the inhaler. Although only 2 puffs are prescribed 'as necessary', predictably enough he used about 8 puffs through his spacer before things settled down.

I just don't really know what to do, and I recognise that I'm probably a bit over-sensitive about this due to my own asthma. Surely it would be better to use 2 puffs before exercise to avoid getting wheezy, rather than 8-10 puffs later to settle down an attack? The boy has clearly never heard of this as a concept, so this is obviously not what he's be prescribed, but at the same time I'm not terribly comfortable about caring for him day after day if he's going to become quite obviously wheezy and out of breath. His mum clearly doesn't think his asthma is a problem, and apparently he doesn't run around at school so perhaps he doesn't exacerbate it at school?

He's 10, so old enough to know when he needs his inhaler, but I'm sure this is not a good way to handle his asthma. I don't know how to raise the issue, or indeed maybe I'm making an issue out of something that isn't? It is difficult to sit and watch a child wheeze though when I'm fairly sure it could have been prevented.

Any suggestions? If this is how his inhaler use has been prescribed then I guess we'll just have to go through this process every day?


6 Replies

It sounds like his asthma isn't properly managed.

Though how you suggest this to his parents could be dificult!

He could just be having a bad patch with the pollen at the mo and is usually OK the rest of the time..... tricky one!


HI, I'm with kate on this one, his asthma is not well controlled, but as if like you say they have a run around first, but the symptoms suggest that he may have exercise induced asthma, and really should be using the ventolin not just as an emergency medicine, but as a preventer before exercise, i know i certainly do. Perhaps it could be suggested that he try it and see if he gets the same symptoms when using it before hand, he may find that it does work ,and will continue to use it in that way, there is a leaflet on exercise induced asthma from AUK, just look under the publications and get them to send you one, and maybe let him have it.




I might just have to brave it and talk to his mum again. Surely nobody can get out of PE at school completely, so if he has this problem here, he must surely have it at school too?

I'll wait until next week and see if a change in the weather helps.

Thanks again.


Hi Carrie,

Not sure what the procedure is in schools now regarding PE and Asthma, but when I was at school, the kids (about 4) in my group had asthma, and as far as they were concerned, they never did PE, the teacher never questioned it, asthma, you did nothing, lucky or what, I could have done with that for an excuse.



Bite the Bullet and go for it!

Hi Carrie

I would suggest that it is perfectly reasonable for you to have a chat with his parent around the childs asthma symptoms and how it affects him during the activity that you have responsiblity to manage. You may want to suggest that she also speaks to the asthma nurse for advise.

We all have a responsiblity for the children in our care whether that is as a parent or person charged with the care of some one elses child. You also have a responsiblity for the care of the other children and surely whilst you are looking after this child the others are not only losing out on your time but also perhaps feeling upset by witnessing this other child with breathing difficulties.

If she takes it the wrong way then so be it!



You could adopt the its great having the inhaler as back up you are using it every session and you are worried it might not work, then go on and say that you round a couple puffs before exersise meant you did not get wheezy would it be worth trying that with him. Prevention always being better than cure after all.

Good luck



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