On Summer Sports, Asthma and Being Prepared with Houston Immunologist, Dr. Carlos Vital

My family is an athletic bunch. We love sports-we have  football, basketball, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse players among our numbers. We are allvery active. (well, usually—I recently severely dislocated my elbow playing tennis, so I am out of commission). This past weekend we celebrated Father’s Day with a family soccer game. Sunday morning was a hot Houston day, with no relief in sight. We are currently in an historic drought. There hasn’t been rain in weeks.

Houston is a sports-focused town. Texans take their sports very seriously and Houstonians especially. Our sports facilities are unrivaled and our devotion to club and specialty teams is intense. (We tend to be a bit zealous about pretty much everything!)

For every Houstonian athlete, young and not-so-young, the Houston outdoors is a challenge. We have extreme heat. We have crazy humidity. And we have nasty air. On just about every team that my kids have participated (and with five active kids, that’s a lot of teams over the years), there is at least one teammate with asthma. Inhalers are commonplace in the Houston sports world.

Exercise and sports activity can be an asthma trigger all by itself. Some people’s asthma is triggered only by physical exertion. For some asthma sufferers, physical activity is just one of many triggers. But in Houston, since air quality is such an issue here, it’s hard to know if the post-activity asthma attack is from the activity or from being outside sucking in extra amounts of dirty air. Both can be contributors. This seems to be the case for my daughter. She played soccer in college and is a high school soccer coach. She has not needed an inhaler for some time. But now that she is back in Houston for the summer, it has taken all of three weeks for her need of an inhaler to return. So we know it’s not just the game of soccer that gets her coughing. It’s playing soccer in the Houston air. Activity in the summer months requires extra attention.

Dr. Carlos Vital, allergist and immunologist, who has two offices in Houston, says that the summer months are an important time to pay attention to allergies and asthma. His advice to parents with allergic or asthmatic children is to “always be prepared.” Though summer is the time that families tend to relax their routines, Dr. Vital says this is no time to forget your inhaler at home or stop your maintenance medications. For kids who are have not been diagnosed with allergies or asthma, but exhibit one of more of the following symptoms:

a cough after running around or exercising;
a chronic cough at nighttime; and or
wake up in the morning feeling fatigued,

they should be seen by their primary physician or an allergist. And for kids who already know they are asthmatic, if they develop the dreaded summer cold or any upper respiratory infection, their chances of having a reaction to activity is increased.

As the Houston summer wears on, the temperatures continue to rise. Dr. Vital says as difficult as it may be to have kids hanging around the house, when the ozone is high, kids with allergy sensitivities and asthma should stay indoors. (Check out Abbie Walston’s post on what to do with house-bound kids on smoggy days.)

Dr. Vital is a valuable resource for asthma and allergy sufferers because of his impressive training and his dedication to community. From 2000 to 2005, Dr. Vital was President of the Louisiana State Medical Society – Resident Fellow Section, 2000-2005 and for part of that time he was Director for the American Medical Association – Resident Fellow Section for Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas. He received Resident of the Year recognition by the Medical Center of Louisiana for the Department of Internal Medicine & Pediatrics and was nominated for overall Resident of the Year. He is currently on the faculty of Texas A & M Medical School. His decision to specialized in allergy and immunology stems from the fact that he was a suffer himself. This is why patient advocacy is so important to him. You’ll find him at community health activities, like the“Walk for food Allergies” in downtown Houston, and devoting time as a board member at the Julia C.Hester House, Houston oldest African-American community center.

I think of Dr. Vital as a medic in the war against clean air, only he is tending to the health of the war’s biggest casualties—our children. As an African-American physician, he is acutely aware of the disproportionate numbers of asthma suffers in our communities. I discussed with him the work of the Moms Clean Air Force. “You’re doing some important work there,” he exclaims, “Thank you.”

For more information about The Soaring Rates of Asthma Among African-American Kids and What Moms Can Do About It, join the Mom’s Clean Air Force BlogTalk Radio discussion on July 27 at 10:00 a.m. EST.

For more information and REGISTRATION– Go HERE! 

The most effective way to parent is to arm yourself with information…and then to act on it! 

Cross posted at Mom’s Clean Air Force!

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