Dr. Greene’s Answer:
Most people don’t realize it but some kids with asthma cough instead of wheezing (called cough-variant asthma). Those that cough during exercise should be checked for asthma, especially if there is asthma in the family.
There are a variety of different ways to check for asthma. Asthma is defined as repeated airway narrowing. When the airways are narrow, this can be measured by having the child breathe into a tube called a peak flow meter or by having the child breath into a larger machine, called a spirometer. If there is no narrowing at the time, they might have the child exercise to try to reproduce it. There are higher-tech tests available if there is still a question.
Children can continue any sport or exercise activity even when diagnosed with asthma, so long as they are properly treated. Exercise is great for kids with asthma, and if the asthma is properly treated, it will usually not interfere at all with performance. In fact, many Olympians have asthma.