Skip to content

Allergies Health Center

Font Size

6 Tips for Athletes With Allergies

Whether your children play baseball, soccer, basketball, football, or do other activities, you want them to be safe and have fun.

Many children have allergies. Most cases are mild, but some can have severe reactions to certain triggers. Doctors call this anaphylaxis. Food allergies and insect stings are among the most common causes. Sometimes kids can have this kind of reaction when they’re exposed to allergens before or during exercise.

Recommended Related to Allergies

Survival Guide for Pet Allergies

It’s an all-too-common scenario: Your five-year-old begs and pleads for a dog or cat every chance she gets. She even promises to care for the new pet every day. You know, though, that’s not going to happen. It’s clear that task is going to fall on your shoulders. But that’s not even the biggest problem. The biggest problem is someone in your household has pet allergies. Not even Barack Obama’s family is immune to such issues. Eldest daughter Malia has pet allergies. So when they launched their...

Read the Survival Guide for Pet Allergies article > >

Be Prepared

Being active is good for all kids. And with a little time to plan, a child with severe allergies can still take part in games and sports. These tips should help.

  1. Visit an allergist. Take your child to an allergy specialist. The doctor can do tests to find out what your child is allergic to, how severe the allergy is, prescribe medication, and give you advice that will help your kid avoid allergy triggers.
  2. Take the sting out of flying insects. Protect kids who are highly allergic to bees, wasps, and other stinging insects with a technique called desensitization (or immunotherapy). The allergist injects a tiny amount of insect venom under your child's skin. He slowly raises the amount of venom over a period of about 3 months, until your child can tolerate the allergen. This technique is a great way to control insect allergies.
  3. Ask about epinephrine shots. Kids who are severely allergic to insect stings or certain foods often carry an epinephrine injection with them to the field. Your allergist can decide if your child needs one and show you how to use it. Your child and her teachers, caregivers, and coaches should also know how to use it.
  4. Take medications. Kids with severe seasonal allergies can take antihistamines or get allergy shots ahead of time so pollen doesn't sideline them during the spring.
  5. Make a plan. Your child needs an allergy plan, in writing, signed by you and your allergist. The plan should list your child's allergy triggers, symptoms, and medications. Give a copy of the plan to your child's coaches and school.
  6. Pack your child's food. The safest way for kids with severe food allergies to eat on the road is to pack meals and snacks at home. That way, you know there are no triggers. Make sure your child knows what to avoid, in case they're offered something when you're not around.
  7. Know the signs: Symptoms of exercise-induced anaphylaxis include:
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling of choking
  • Wheezing
  • Nausea
  • Headache

Keep in mind, these symptoms can result from other causes. But when it’s anaphylaxis, your child needs immediate medical treatment.

  1. Spread the word. Your child may never have anaphylaxis. Still, every adult who is caring for her needs to know the symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction and what to do if it happens. They should also know that an epinephrine injection isn’t a cure -- it gives you a brief window to get your child to the emergency room. The coach or other adults need to know that they must call 911 right away and take your child to the nearest ER, even if she seems OK.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on December 22, 2014

Today on WebMD

man blowing nose
Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
Allergy capsule
Breathe easier with these products.
cat on couch
Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
Which ones affect you?

blowing nose
woman with sore throat
lone star tick
Woman blowing nose

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

cat lying on shelf
Allergy prick test
Man sneezing into tissue
Woman holding feather duster up to face, twitching