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    HELP!! My son's Football coach doesn't believe my son has Asthma
    FrustratedforWill posted:
    Hi....I need some guidance on how to handle this. My son is almost 12 and has played football since 1st grade. This year he began wheezing and was prescribed an inhaler by his doctor. His doctor believes that based on his description of his symptoms, he has sports induced asthma.
    My son was having trouble doing the sprints at the end of practice and now is using his inhaler. He still has to stop in the middle of sprints to do another dose of the inhaler. HOWEVER his COACH yelled at him the other day and told him he was basically faking it...saying to me son "Are you kidding me, it's not even that hot out" and "come on kid, any day now" my son was in tears. NOW the coaches son told my son that "everyone knows you don't have asthma". My son is very upset.

    We are just trying to deal with this as it is hard for him, since he has never had this before. NOW we have to deal with the coach and his son bullying my son about it. I don't know what to do. We spoke to the coach after the first incident but I am not sure it is helping.

    ANY advice would be very much appreciated!
    blueeyebunny; responded:
    first and fore most have a meeting with the Princepal and the coach bring along with you a note from the doctor. Let them know up front that if this continues to happen you will be taking it to the board of education because your child doesn't deserve this abuse from his coach. plus asthma is no joke and you want your son not to be a risk because of an idiot like the coach.
    Amelia_WebMD_Staff responded:
    I'm so sorry, FrustratedforWill!

    This is such an awful situation and as a mother, I definitely feel your pain. I agree with the previous poster to take a note from your doctor and get the principal involved. You might want to get advice from your doctor on this situation, as it is very possible that he/she has dealt with this before. Asthma is not something to take lightly, especially while exercising in the heat!

    Here is a great WebMD Asthma at School article , which gives advice on who to speak to and exactly what to cover. Hopefully, this will help. My fingers are crossed for your son and you!

    Please keep us posted and take care!
    - Asthma doesn't seem to bother me anymore, unless I'm around cigars or dogs. The thing that would bother me most would be a dog smoking a cigar. - Steve Allen
    Brian P Vickery, MD replied to Amelia_WebMD_Staff's response:
    Dear FrustratedforWill:

    I'm so sorry to hear you're in this situation. There is clearly an educational issue here about what asthma is and how severe it can be. A note from the doc shared at a sit-down meeting with the coach and administrators should help to address some of the educational issues. Unfortunately there is another issue, and that is the macho attitude of many youth coaches, who feel a need to push young athletes to "toughen them up." I had such a basketball coach when I was in high school...

    One additional thing you should do that hasn't been mentioned is to make sure your son takes two puffs of his bronchodilator - with a spacer - at least 15 minutes before activity. This way he'll have albuterol in his system when he starts exercising, and it should last him ~ 4 hours. It won't completely prevent the need for rescue puffs later but it should help significantly. Also, a gradual period of warm up / cool down can be useful. Have him do some light stretching and calisthenics like jumping jacks, etc., before entering practice. Starting hard activity from a dead stop can provoke asthma. Here is some more info:

    Good luck!
    An_239762 responded:
    I am a lifelong asthma sufferer and I think the coach's reaction is unacceptable (and agree you should speak to him and, if you're not satisfied, the principal), but I'm also a bit skeptical about the diagnosis.

    I strongly believe that asthma always has an underlying cause, i.e. an allergy. For me pets, dust and pollution are the main irritants. In my experience and in speaking with other asthma sufferers I've discovered that many doctors do not seem to do enough to identify the specific trigger(s), which is essential. I suffered annual hospitalizations during childhood and was close to death at least twice due to conditions (such as flu) complicated by asthma. The cause was staring everyone in the face and never diagnosed. I am violently allergic to dogs, including the two hairy beasts my family had when I was growing up! The doctors never even mentioned that this could be a cause and my parents never twigged. Thus, my asthma was also believed to be "sports-induced". It wasn't till I moved out of the house to go to university that it became blindingly apparent (i.e. when I returned to visit).

    Many pet owners are in denial that their beloved creature could be the cause of the problem. A friend of my wife's, who was a dog breeder, had a new baby that was diagnosed with asthma after 9 months. She refused to believe that her 4 golden retrievers could be the cause and pediatrician hadn't even suggested it, let alone tested for it.

    If you have any pets (so much as a hamster), get rid of them, especially if their introduction coincided with the start of the asthma.

    In a sense, I would agree with coach that asthma is not induced by sports per se (to the best of my knowledge and experience). However, exertion can certainly begin the vicious cycle of airway contraction > anxiety > contraction that could result in a serious attack if not addressed. Whether this cycle can begin spontaneously without some physical irritant, I'm not sure but I would doubt it (I think it's more likely that the irritant has not been identified in such cases). If you know what the underlying cause is, explaining that to the coach would help him to realise that it was not being brought on by the exertion, just exacerbated.

    I would also give some thought to any other changes in your son's environment that happened around the time the symptoms began, including poor air quality or seasonal allergies.

    Next time you go on vacation, keep a close eye on his symptoms to see if the change in environment results in a change in his condition.

    Longer term medication such as Advair/Serotide (when used correctly) should prevent the need for a rescue inhaler, even during sports, which would avoid the problem. Definitely worth discussing with your doctor.

    I would also recommend taking up swimming as this helps build lung strength as well as general cardiovascular health.

    Hope this helps.
    amcate responded:
    I don't have much experience with the school system, so I can't answer your question other than to offer moral support and say that you and your family are not alone in dealing with similar issues.

    Even though I work in a hospital, it can be difficult at times to get coworkers to understand how serious asthma can be. I've even had times when during team meeting I would start having problems, and people would laugh. Or sometimes, if the person is familiar with asthma, it's normally to depict some horror case they saw, and the person may not understand day to day management of it. I try to educate people on the day to day aspects of it, as well as how serious it can be.

    I know my response may not be very helpful, but other than offering moral support and recognizing the fact that those without asthma or who don't treat it frequently oftentimes do not understand, I don't know what else to say except that you are in my thoughts. It's hard enough dealing with a disease process without also having to deal with other's insensitive reactions.

    I normally try to talk to the person and educate them, if possible. The issue I run up against is if the person is not wanting to be educated. You might try to bring in the school nurse on this issue as well.

    I wish the best for you and your family.
    FrustratedforWill responded:
    Thank you all so much for your advice. We are doing better dealing with the issue. My son has adjusted a bit and learned how to use the inhaler to help him better. Yes we do use it before practice with 2 puffs a couple mins apart 15-20 mins before practice. The coach seems to have backed off after we said something to him about this condition being a "real" thing we are dealing with.

    Unfortunatly, it is not a Football program associated with our school. It is a recreational football program that all the kids in our town go to b/c they don't offer football at this level. It isn't offered through school until high school. AND the guys that run it are all of the same mentality. Let's just call it "the good ol boys" club. Middle aged MACHO men trying to prove something.

    Thanks AGAIN for all your info and words of encouragement. It is nice to know there is a place to turn to for guidance and support!
    minervaayala replied to Brian P Vickery, MD's response:
    I am a divorce mother of three kids and my son was diagnosed with asthma about three years ago, however his asthma is trigger by allergies. How do you make your ex understand that his son suffers from asthma? My son's father tells him that the doctor does not know anything.
    Amelia_WebMD_Staff replied to minervaayala's response:
    Welcome to the community MinervaAyala!

    I'm so sorry to hear about you and your son's situation. While you may never be able to have your ex "understand" that his son is suffering, possibly having him go to the doctor with you all next time may help? Then, he can ask the questions that he feels are not being answered properly and at least learn more about treating and assisting his son through a possible asthma attack.

    It is important that you explain to your son that this is a real concern and make sure he knows what to do as far as treatment and emergency treatment. Here is our Asthma Health Center with a great deal of helpful information as well as an Overview on Asthma Attacks and Severe Asthma Attacks that you can read and share with others.

    Wishing you the best!
    - Asthma doesn't seem to bother me anymore, unless I'm around cigars or dogs. The thing that would bother me most would be a dog smoking a cigar. - Steve Allen
    sherwood2255 responded:
    To put it bluntly, your son's coach is an idiot. I don't believe in Monday mornings either, but there's on on the calendar (God willing) tomorrow. Pull him off of the team and let the coach implode on his own. Trust me, ignorance IS bliss, at least until it ruins ya.
    amcate replied to FrustratedforWill's response:
    I want to thank you for asking the question. I just had a work situation where I aspirated some water and so had an attack. It's normally mild, and does not deteriorate with that trigger. My coworkers were joking and laughing about it, and I was unable to tell them due to the bronchospasms. I normally cough as much as I can to get the water or whatever was aspirated out of the lungs because then it stops. If that fails, then I take rescue medicines. I was able to tell them after coughing up enough water. They then asked questions and laughed, though I don't know their motivation or if they are simply ignorant. They do work in a hospital, but their licensure would not include a lot of asthma education. I knew I had time since those attacks don't deteriorate, so I went into the bathroom which was close to me, but did not have my inhaler. My inhaler was in my purse which was on the other side of where these people were. They were not intentionally blocking my access to medicines. So, I was in the bathroom, coughing up water and such, then came out once I coughed up as much as I could, and they were gone and I took the rescue medicine. I reported it to my manager and also to respiratory therapy department. My manager took action quickly, talking to all involved parties and tried to tell me that they all felt bad about it, and that I had misunderstood their intention in the actions they did after I told them I was having an attack. All I know is that I was okay with them leaving me alone in the bathroom since I needed to focus on opening my lungs and they were making it difficult. Still, in general it is not good practice to leave an asthmatic with an active attack alone in a bathroom not knowing if they have an inhaler and then (I assume) not telling anyone. It is dangerous.

    My family would be the one to take care of me in the event of me being harmed. They requested to have all involved parties go through formal education, and get it documented with their signature and date. I have forwarded the request. My family is saying they want that in case I am harmed by others impeding my ability to reverse an attack by distracting me and telling me to talk a lot, they want to have recourse to help pay for my long term care. I am considering that no job is worth my health, and whether to work at another hospital.

    They say nurses are the only species that eat their young, and I have had bad experiences in other hospitals with my asthma, but nothing to this extreme in the 12 years I've dealth with it.

    In fairness to my coworkers, I don't know their side of the story. Perhaps their intent is different than how I understood things. Perhaps they don't know anything about asthma. All I know is that their response is dangerous in that it distracts a person, and to have someone come up to you trying to get you to talk while in the middle of an attack is also distracting and makes it more difficult to focus on opening up the lungs. It's also not safe in general to leave a person with an acute asthma attack alone in the bathroom without knowing they have an inhaler with them. I work very closely with this team, and they need me because my training is in demand. They now want me to come back. How do you work with people you can't trust to ensure your physical safety?

    Anyway, enough about me. I was thinking of your question and it helps to know I'm the only one who deals with this.
    amcate replied to amcate's response:
    I made a typo. The last sentence should read, "it helps to know I'm NOT the only one who deals with this."
    Amelia_WebMD_Staff replied to amcate's response:
    I'm so sorry that this happened to you, amcate.

    Whether someone has asthma or any other illness, it is important for the people who surround us to understand the seriousness as well as our action plans.

    Here is a great article on the importance and measures that one should consider with Finding Asthma Support: Groups, School, Work and more . I hope this helps to give you some ideas as to what to inform coworkers of and you may consider printing the article out and handing to them as well.

    Take care of yourself!
    - Asthma doesn't seem to bother me anymore, unless I'm around cigars or dogs. The thing that would bother me most would be a dog smoking a cigar. - Steve Allen

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