Exercise Induced Asthma

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How can exercise induce asthma?

At the same time as healthy exercise can be handled by patients, exercise can often be the cause of an asthma attack.

Symptoms of exercise induced asthma...

Wheezing, coughing and a tightening of the chest are all symptoms of exercise induced asthma. These symptoms will usually be felt after beginning the exercise and will gradually worsen even after exercise stops.

Why does exercise induce asthma?

Even after years of research, the reasons for exercise induced asthma are unclear. However in theory asthma sufferers will breathe faster which does not allow for the nose and airways to add moisture to the air, therefore the air being taken in is dry and cold. This intake of cold, dry air is thought to trigger asthma symptoms.

How do Doctors diagnose exercise induced asthma?

Doctors will often refer to a patient's medical history and perhaps perform peak flow tests in order to determine if a case of exercise induced asthma exists. However in some cases it may be difficult for the Doctor to make a full diagnosis without further tests at a specialised unit.

How to manage your exercise induced asthma...

o Long distance or cross country running can be triggers for asthma attacks due to the intake of cold air without any breaks.

o On the other hand sports such as football, basketball or tennis are less likely to induce an attack if short breaks are taken.

o An excellent sport for asthma sufferers to take part in is swimming, I can speak from experience on this matter. The theory behind this is that warm humid air in the swimming pool is less likely to trigger asthma symptoms. It must be noted however that heavily chlorinated pools can have the opposite effect, as can swimming in cold water.

o Another good exercise for people with breathing problems is yoga, the muscles are relaxed and can help by practising breathing exercises.

Remember - asthma should not stop you from enjoying sports...
Personally I have suffered with asthma since I was very young, however I have always taken part in sports and although I still have breathing problems from time to time, I can control them by remembering a few things...

o Take the correct medication

o Consult your Doctor regularly and ask for advice

o Start the sports slowly and pace yourself to see how much you can do comfortably.

Keep your asthma controlled during exercise by following a few steps...

o Taking regular exercise and taking part in sports can have a positive effect on your breathing problems and reduce exercise induced asthma in the long term.

o Warm up and warm down.

o Try to avoid cold air, this can induce breathing problems. If you take part in sports in cold weather it is a good idea to cover your nose and mouth with a scarf.

Keeping your child's asthma under control at school...

Unless your child suffers from very severe asthma, they should be able to take part in PE and extra curricular sports at school. However remember to inform their teachers of their asthma and keep spare medication at the school in case your child's runs out or loses it. Teachers can also encourage the child to warm up and warm down whilst making sure the child doesn't over exert themselves.

Taking part in competitive sports...

The usual inhaler medications are not banned in competitive sports, however you should register the fact that you have asthma and are taking medication to control it. You should make sure that your friends who you play the sport with are aware of your asthma in case of emergencies.

Taking part in adventure sports...

It is recommended that you consult your Doctor before taking part in adventure sports, if you are cleared to take part then make sure that you inform your instructor of your breathing problems. Also ensure that you keep your medication close to hand. If you need insurance for taking part in adventure sports then you should declare that you have asthma before taking out the policy.

Can I take part in scuba-diving?

Recently the medical profession has recognised that people with controlled symptoms of asthma can take part in scuba-diving. But the pressures involved in scuba-diving such as the exposure to cold air and the possibility of stress and emotion, can induce breathing problems.

If you are planning to take part in scuba-diving whilst on holiday abroad, it is worth checking what the guidelines are on scuba-diving for the country you are travelling to. Some countries do not allow asthma sufferers to take part in scuba-diving.

There are several recommendations made by the British Sub-Aqua Club, for those with mild controlled asthma...

o You have not needed to use your inhaler or shown symptoms of asthma within the last 48 hours.

o You do not have asthma that is triggered by cold, exercise stress or emotion.

Can I take part in mountaineering?

Mountaineering shouldn't be a problem as long as you are physically fit and your asthma is controlled. You should also make sure you plan well for your trip and take more than enough medication.

If your asthma is triggered by air pollution, then the mountain environment is ideal for you. Dust mites are unable to live at the low temperatures of the mountains and therefore the air is cleaner.

However there are several asthma triggers that exist in the mountains such as the cold, dry air and exercise.

The British Mountaineering Council provides good medical advice on high altitude mountaineering.

Can I take part in skiing?

Skiing shares many of the same principles as mentioned above in mountaineering, for example people with well controlled asthma should be able to enjoy skiing without any problems. However as usual if you are concerned it is best to seek medical advice prior to engaging in this activity.

You should seek advice particularly if you are planning to take part in cross country skiing which can be a stronger trigger than downhill skiing.

What about parachute jumping?

As a general rule you can parachute or skydive if...

o Exercise does not trigger your asthma

o You can completely control your asthma

o Cold air does not trigger your asthma

As always you should consult your Doctor before taking part in this type of activity. You can also find more information from the British Parachute Association.

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