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Guard Your Health is a resource for Army National Guard Soldiers and family members. Find health-related tools and information. Hear from fellow Soldiers and Families. Make medical readiness part of your personal mission.

Managing Asthma as a Soldier

Superimposed illustration of lungs on a Soldier working out on a weight machine

Army Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret (modified)

In this Article:

  • Soldiers with asthma can lead active lifestyles and serve in the Guard.
  • Environmental factors can impact asthma.
  • Asthma is manageable in any season.

Having asthma doesn’t have to stop you from carrying out your duties as a Soldier. If you have asthma, you can join or stay in the National Guard if you:

  • Perform all required duties and training
  • Meet the APFT standards
  • Can wear protective gear
  • Do not routinely use oral corticosteroids to function 

Understanding Asthma

Asthma is a respiratory condition that effects your airways and lungs. Environmental factors like the extreme cold or hot air can irritate the airways. Breathing in pollen and mold spores, animal dander, and dust mites can aggravate the airways, too.

Each person’s experience with asthma is unique, but common symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest.

Managing Asthma as A Soldier

Being prepared is key to managing your asthma as a Soldier. Keep your asthma in check and stay medically ready with these tips:

  • Ask your Medical Readiness NCO or medical health professional about medication options to help ease symptoms
  • Know your triggers to lessen the risk of an asthma attack
  • Write an asthma action plan that includes your triggers, what to do in case of an attack, and who to contact, and then share it with your unit commander and those closest to you
  • Get the flu shot annually (it’s required as a Guard Soldier)

Working Out with Asthma

Having asthma doesn’t have to stop you from working out or prepping for the APFT either. Experts recommend that people with asthma exercise for short periods of time to avoid an attack. However, many people can exercise for longer periods of time, too. It just depends on the severity of your asthma. Talk with your medical health professional about an exercise plan that works for you.

With a little prep, you can even be active outdoors year-round. Check out these seasonal tips:

Winter                

  • Stay warm and dry when outdoors by wearing a coat, gloves, and hat
  • Wrap a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth before going out
  • Breathe through your nose, rather than mouth 

Spring/Fall

  • Change your clothes and/or shower when you go back indoors to wash off pollen
  • Keep doors and windows closed to prevent pollen from blowing into your home 

Summer

  • Make sure your inhaler is not in direct sunlight or your glove compartment
  • Monitor the pollen and mold count to determine the best times to be outdoors
  • Avoid activity outdoors during the hottest part of the day
  • Stay hydrated

Ask your Medical Readiness NCO or medical health professional for other ways to help you manage your asthma symptoms so you can maintain readiness 365 days a year.

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