Exercise is necessary to maintain your body in good shape, strengthen muscles and maintain a strong and healthy immune system. People diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma, also called exercise-induced bronchospasm, experience a blockage in airflow within 5 to 15 minutes of starting exercise, say Dr. Taru Sinha and Dr. Alan. David from the Medical College of Wisconsin. Asthma induced by exercise can be treated, and with proper care, you should be able to exercise and participate in sports activities without experiencing symptoms.
Exercise-induced asthma, or EIA, results in the loss of heat, water, or both from the lungs during exercise, say Dr. Sinha and Dr. David. They say that between 80 and 90 percent of people diagnosed with asthma also have asthma induced by exercise. The AIE results from breathing more quickly during exercise, usually through the mouth, adds the United States Asthma and Allergy Foundation. The air that enters the mouth is cool and drier than the air that flows through the nostrils, therefore the decrease of heat and humidity in the results of bronchospasm.
The AIE is diagnosed based on a history showing shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and coughing or wheezing during or after exercise. Dr. Sinha and Dr. David say that some patients also have symptoms of an upset stomach or sore throat. If these symptoms occur in the first five minutes of exercise, doctors say they are usually not indicative of EIA, but rather of some other problem in the lungs. Because running is considered a resistance sport, it puts a considerable amount of pressure on the lungs to work, often leading to an AIE attack.
Aerobic sports are more likely to trigger an AIE attack than anaerobic sports. People with this condition should participate in sports that require short bursts of exercise instead of longer periods of resistance exercise. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of the United States recommends sports such as hiking, volleyball, gymnastics and baseball as the best option for people with AIE. Sports that are considered more aerobic, such as running, playing soccer or basketball, should be avoided, as they are more likely to cause symptoms. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation says that sports that take place in cold air, such as ice hockey or ice skating, should be avoided as well.
Prevention / Solution
You must perform low resistance sports if you are diagnosed with AIE and make sure to take a blue rescue inhaler with you when doing sports or exercise.If you decide to run, try doing it for short distances instead of long ones. Talk to your doctor about your current medication for asthma. Your doctor may suggest the use of a bronchodilator fifteen minutes before exercising to help avoid bronchospasm. The Lung Association of Canada suggests slowly warming up before exercising by walking and stretching. You should also spend at least 10 minutes at the end of your cooling exercise session, since a sudden adjustment could cause the AIE to break loose.
If you like to run outdoors, pay attention to air quality and temperature. If the air quality is poor, or hot and humid outside, you may want to move the race to a roofed track or treadmill. Running outdoors during the winter months should be avoided since cold air can trigger the AIE. If you have to run outdoors, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue to help warm the incoming air. If you have an allergy to grass, the Lung Association of Canada suggests that you run on paths of grass, pavement or dirt because if you do it on grass it can cause your allergies to burst, which makes you more susceptible to an attack by AIE.