Pop quiz: What do world-famous soccer player David Beckham and up to 25% of high school and college student-athletes have in common?

If you guessed asthma, you’re correct!

Exercise-induced asthma is a form of asthma that occurs as a result of physical activity, and can even affect people who do not normally have asthma.

What are symptoms of asthma?

  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest

Asthma can be triggered by many things: pollutants in the air, pollen, mold, cigarette smoke, and even excitement or stress.

Asthma does not have to bench an aspiring student-athlete. Many professional athletes have asthma and have proven they can still do great things in the world of sports.

What are steps a student-athlete with asthma should take to make sure they stay off the bench and on the playing field?

  • Visit an allergist to develop a plan to manage asthma symptoms
  • Talk with the team coach and make him or her aware of the situation
  • Discuss with a doctor using an inhaler before exercise to prevent symptoms
  • Know the signs of an asthma attack, and the proper way to treat an attack should one occur

As asthmatic Olympic track and field gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee once said, “The glory of sport comes from dedication, determination and desire.” She is living proof that asthma doesn’t mean game over in the world of sports. With proper education, prevention, preparation, and management, students with asthma can continue to push themselves to achieve their goals.