Asthma is a treatable health condition. It is caused by the narrowing of the small breathing tubes in the lungs due to the tightening of the muscles in the tube wall, the swelling of tube lining and an increase in mucus production, creating a difficulty in breathing.

Asthma attacks can be bought on by many factors and these will vary for each individual affected. These factors include:

  • allergens, e.g. grass, pollens, house dust mites, pet fur, etc.
  • sudden changes in temperature;
  • dry hot winds;
  • nervous tension;
  • cold air;
  • stress and anxiety;
  • exercise;
  • smoking; and
  • sensitivity to certain types of food or food additives such as preservatives.

Exercise is a medically recognised trigger factor for asthma and may place limitations on participation in a range of activities. Most asthmatics can be fully involved in physical activities if they are aware of how they can control their wheezing.

Some forms of medication have been found to be effective in preventing the symptoms of asthma and enable participants to participate in activities.

Early signs of an asthma attack –

  • breathing becomes more difficult and a wheezing sound develops;
  • breathing is rapid and sometimes with a rasp; and
  • the person becomes distressed, pale and sweaty and has a rapid pulse.

During an asthma attack the participant requires a quiet environment with clean air and access to treatment. The person’s medication should always be available. The instructions will prescribe dosage and the procedure for taking medication. Medication involving inhalants usually work quickest. If no medication is available, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Programming Considerations

  • Participants with asthma should be able to participate fully in sport and active recreation activities if the condition is under control.
  • This will involve knowledge of the activity that brings on an asthma attack and taking account of these in program planning.
  • The leader should be aware of a person’s medication requirements and the procedure to follow during an attack.

Further information

Asthma Foundation Victoria-