Exercise Induced Asthma
Asthma is a chronic condition characterized by
inflammation of the airways or bronchi within the lungs. The airways become
tight and clogged making breathing difficult. The symptoms may be mild or
severe. As time goes by, they may fluctuate. Certain triggers, in some cases
allergens or irritants such as smoke, may worsen symptoms or bring on an attack.
In exercise-induced asthma, the primary trigger is exercise.
People who suffer from exercise-induced asthma
typically do not experience symptoms except during or after exercising. In some
cases, the exercise must be vigorous or prolonged to trigger an attack, although
some people experience symptoms even during light exercise. Typically, the
people who experience symptoms during light exercise have chronic asthma attacks
that are triggered by other things too.
Certain types of activities, especially outdoor
activities, are more likely to cause asthma attacks. Sports and games that
require continuous running or movement are examples. Cold weather activities,
such as ice-skating, skiing and shoveling snow are other common triggers.
The cold weather activities are more likely to
cause an attack for a specific reason. In cold weather, the air is dryer.
Normally, we breathe through our noses. The nasal passages warm and moisten cold
dry air, making it easier to breathe. When we are exercising, we have a tendency
to breathe through our mouths. The air bypasses the warming, moistening effect
of the nasal passages.
People with exercise-induced asthma are more
sensitive to the cold dry air, as well as to other changes in temperature and
humidity. Their breathing passages react to the changes by becoming smaller,
tighter and narrower. This is what causes the symptoms.
The symptoms of exercise-induced asthma may
include coughing, wheezing, a tight feeling in the chest or chest pain, feelings
of breathlessness or being short of breath, extreme fatigue during exercise and
a general difficulty with breathing. When the symptoms appear varies. They may
start during the first 10 minutes of exercising or within the first ten minutes
after the exercise has stopped.
The symptoms may resemble those of an allergic
reaction and are usually manageable. They should, however, be reported to your
physician. Together the two of you can come up with a personalized treatment
plan to help you deal with the symptoms.
You should not avoid exercising if you have
exercise-induced asthma. In most cases, it is possible to prevent the symptoms
from occurring. You should not have to give up your favorite activities. Even
some professional athletes have the condition. It can be managed with the right
treatment or treatments.
Some of the treatments that are often effective
include inhalers and bronchodilators. These are used prior to exercising in
order to prevent symptoms from occurring or decrease the severity of the
symptoms. They are the same treatments that are used for all kinds of asthma and
they work for the exercise-induced type too.
Fast-acting beta-2 agonists are often
prescribed for exercise-induced asthma. The drug is usually taken 10 to 15
minutes before you expect to begin exercising. Other medicines that some doctors
prescribe include corticosteroids, antihistamines and cromolyn sodium. They are
sometimes extremely helpful for managing the symptoms. Antihistamines are
usually recommended when an allergen is believed to be the cause of the
In addition to the medications, there are other
things you can do to help prevent an attack. Warming up and cooling down are
important components of physical activity that many people skip. Warm-ups are
light activities that precede more vigorous exercise. Cool-downs are similar
except that they follow the more strenuous activity.
If you suffer from allergies such as hay fever,
you should limit the amount of exercise you do on days when there is a high
pollen count. The pollen count is usually a part of the weather report for the
day. You might also want to limit outdoor activities when the temperature is
cold and when there are humidity extremes, either high or low.
Remember to take a break from exercising when
you are sick, especially if you have a cold or another upper respiratory
infection. Asthma attacks tend to occur more frequently when your immune system
is at its weakest. By taking care of yourself and following your doctor’s
treatment plan, you can enjoy all of your favorite physical activities without
worrying about asthma attacks.