GRAND JUNCTION, Colo (KKCO) -- Asthma affects millions of young people. Thousands worldwide die from it.
But that doesn't mean they can't play sports, especially during the fall.
Doctors say nearly all asthmatics who are active will have varying degrees of exercise-induced asthma. However, with simple knowledge and preparation, any asthmatic athlete can still have a successful career.
"It's scary when your son is telling you he can't breathe and he doesn't know what to do, and of course the first thing you don't want to do is panic because he's going to panic," said Tabitha Scott, whose son Darien has been battling asthma since he was two years old.
She's seen countless asthma attacks.
"You just have to keep him calm, and figure out what you need to do," she said.
Tabitha has taken Darien to the ER but has learned to deal with asthma over time.
"He's old enough now. He can tell me what he needs. That's better; when he was two it was harder."
Darien is now 16 and plays basketball at Central High School.
"They don't like that feeling in their chest when they get short of breath, and tight, and wheeze," said Dr. William Scott, MD, an allergist with the Allergy and Asthma Center of Western Colorado.
Dr. Scott says some people with asthma might think they can't be active, but they can.
"If they'll use their rescue Albuterol inhaler before they exercise, they'll find they can do some fun things and some things that are good for them; exercise is good for every cell in the body," said Scott.
And for some young people, time can help their asthma.
"Children with asthma usually get better as they get a little older. Their bronchial tubes grow, and magic things happen, and puberty will often help asthma," said Scott.
And while it was hard for Tabitha to watch her son be in pain, the asthma has never stopped him from living an active lifestyle.
"It's important to have your lungs work, and you have medications to help, but your lungs need to be strong, so that's important," said Tabitha.
A survey of participants in the 1996 summer Olympic games showed that 15 percent had been diagnosed with asthma, and 10 percent were on asthma medication.
Other studies show a higher incident of asthma in sports such as cycling, mountain biking, and long-distance running.
For more information on asthma, visit www.allergywesterncolorado.com.