Why Exercise Can Be A Trigger
Breathing through the nose warms up the air we breathe in. But when we exercise, particularly exercise that is more strenuous like running, we usually breathe through the mouth instead of the nose. This means were breathing in air thats colder and drier than normal.
If you have asthma, breathing in this cold, dry air causes your airways to tighten and get narrower. This can trigger your asthma symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness.
You may come across other triggers when you exercise too, like pollution or pollen if you exercise outside, or dust if you exercise indoors. Chlorine in swimming pools can also trigger symptoms for some people.
Youre more likely to get asthma symptoms when you exercise if:
- you dont take your preventer inhaler every day as prescribed
- your airways are already tight and inflamed because of allergies or other triggers like cigarette smoke
Rarely, someone not diagnosed with asthma might get asthma-like symptoms from exercising.
This is often called exercise-induced asthma, but a better term is exercise-induced bronchoconstriction because it is not caused by having asthma. However, its important to be assessed for asthma if you have symptoms of EIB.
Bronchoconstriction is when the airways get tighter and narrower as a result of strenuous exercise, particularly if someone is also breathing in cold air.
Find out more about exercise-induced asthma/bronchoconstriction.
Asthma Isnt An Excuse Not To Work Out
- Warm up and cool down before exercising. This will help you lungs get acclimated to the air.
- Avoid working out during cold weather. If you do, cover your mouth and nose.
- Avoid working out when you have a cold or viral infection.
- Always use your inhaler or prescribed medication before you work out.
You shouldnt use EIB as an excuse not to work out and get exercise. Its likely possible as long as you work with your doctor, find a regimen that works for you and take any medication as necessary, said EXPERT. Dr. Navitha Ramesh is a pulmonologist at Geisinger Wyoming Valley. To schedule an appointment, call 800-275-6401.
Geisinger Health Plan may refer collectively to Geisinger Health Plan, Geisinger Quality Options Inc., and Geisinger Indemnity Insurance Company, unless otherwise noted. Geisinger Gold Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO, and HMO D-SNP plans are offered by Geisinger Health Plan/Geisinger Indemnity Insurance Company, health plans with a Medicare contract. Continued enrollment in Geisinger Gold depends on annual contract renewal. Geisinger Health Plan Kids and Geisinger Health Plan Family are offered by Geisinger Health Plan in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services . Geisinger Health Plan is part of Geisinger, an integrated health care delivery and coverage organization.
How Can I Manage And Treat My Eib
With proper management, you can enjoy exercise and achieve your full potential. Proper management requires that you:
- Take steps to prevent symptoms
- Take medicine before exercising
- Do a proper warm up for 6 to 10 minutes before periods of exercise or vigorous activity
- Carefully watch your respiratory status before, during and after exercise
Children With EIB Inform teachers and coaches if you have a child with EIB. Kids with EIB should be able to take part in activities they just may need medication before an activity.
Athletes With EIB If you are an athlete, disclose your medicines and adhere to standards set by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Request a list of approved and prohibited medications from the Committee hotline at 1-800-233-0393.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Exercise
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can appear a few minutes after you start exercising or after you finish a workout. Symptoms usually start to improve after about 30 minutes of rest.
Sometimes, exercise-induced asthma can return up to 12 hours after youve finished exercising. They can appear even when youre at rest. These are called late-phase symptoms. It may take up to a day for late-phase symptoms to go away.
Symptoms of asthma triggered by exercising include:
- Coughing after running or exercising.
- Severe fatigue.
How To Diagnose Exercise
Exercise-induced asthma vs out of shape is often confused with one another.
It is therefore important that you get diagnosed properly under the supervision of an expert asthma doctor who knows the difference between EIB and being out of shape condition.
Several tests may be required to be done in order to diagnose the condition properly. Measurement of your breathing is done by your doctor before, during and after the exercises in order to ensure the proper functioning of the lungs.
Based on your condition, your doctor helps in creating a prevention and treatment plan to prevent asthma symptoms while you exercise.
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Take These Before Hitting The Gym
- Short acting beta agonist or bronchodilator: Using this inhaler 10 to 15 minutes before exercise can prevent symptoms. It can also be used to treat symptoms after they occur.
- Long-acting bronchodilator: Inhaled 30 to 60 minutes before exercise, it prevents symptoms for 10 to 12 hours but offers no rescue benefit once symptoms occur.
- Mast cell stabilizers: Taken 15 to 20 minutes before exercise to prevent EIB.
Benefits Of Exercise When You Have Asthma
Exercise is important for overall health as well as lung health, and there are many benefits of physical activity for people living with asthma. Daily exercise helps to improve your lungs capacity, in other words, the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use. Also, exercise increases blood flow to your lungs, promoting blood flow to the heart which pumps oxygen throughout your body. For example, people who exercise have more ability to pull oxygen from the lungs and into the blood that feeds the muscles that keep us going.
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Tips To Help Prevent Exercise
To prevent exercise-induced asthma, suggestions include:
- Make sure that your asthma is being well managed, as this will make exercise-induced asthma less likely to occur.
- Always carry your reliever medication and spacer with you.
- If written on your Asthma Action Plan, take your reliever medication up to 15 minutes before warming up.
- Warm up before exercise as usual.
- During exercise, watch for asthma symptoms and stop and take your reliever medication if symptoms appear. Only return to exercise if your asthma symptoms have been relieved. If asthma symptoms appear for a second time during exercise, take your reliever medication again until symptoms have been relieved. It is not recommended that you return to the activity.
- After exercise, cool down as usual. Asthma symptoms can occur up to half an hour after exercise. Make sure you take your reliever medication if you have symptoms after exercise.
What Medications Treat Exercise
Inhaled, short-acting beta2-agonist bronchodilators are the medications most often used to prevent asthma attacks in exercise-induced asthma.
- Use two to four puffs five to 30 minutes before exercising. The medication works best if taken just before exercising.
- This class of drugs is chemically related to adrenaline, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands.
- Inhaled beta2-agonists work rapidly to open the breathing passages. They relax the muscles of the breathing passages, dilating the passages and decreasing the resistance to exhaled airflow, making it easier to breathe.
- They are effective in most people with exercise-induced asthma.
- The effects last as long as four to six hours.
- They have no effect on the underlying cause of the asthma attack.
- They can also be used to relieve symptoms if an attack occurs.
- Side effects include rapid heartbeat and shakiness.
- Albuterol is the most frequently used beta2-agonist medication.
Longer-acting beta2-agonist inhalers, including salmeterol and formoterol , are also available. These are not used alone for asthma. They should only be taken in combination of inhaled corticosteroids. Usually this treatment is reserved for asthma patients with more significant disease burden than exercise-induced asthma.
Inhaled corticosteroids such as beclomethasone , fluticasone , and mometasone are also effective therapy for exercise-induced asthma. For effect, these work better if taken a few hours before exercise.
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What Are Symptoms Of Exercise
If you have EIB, youll likely experience one or a combination of four symptoms: shortness of breath, a dry, non-productive cough, chest tightness, or wheezing .
Some of these symptomssay, trouble catching your breathcan be easy to confuse with the effects of just pushing yourself too hard, or being a little out of shape. So how can you tell if its EIB?
Typically, symptoms of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction are pretty precisely-timed. They tend to begin during the first six to eight minutes of exercise, and peak five to 10 minutes post-workout, says Wang. Thats because, initially, exercise expands the airways. But as you continue to move with EIB, or when you stop, your airways can constrict more than usual.
If you have EIB, symptoms usually subside within 30 to 60 minutes, he adds. Thats different than a short-term exertion, like if youre pushing yourself really hard in a sprint. In that case, youll regain your breath much faster than this, Wang notes.
If youve done your run and shortly following your run, your chest is tight, maybe youre coughing a little bit, that should go away, notes Taliercio.
If those symptoms persist after that time frame, or get worseespecially if you have a history or asthma and have used a quick-acting inhalerthey may be signs of an asthma attack. In that case, you should seek immediate medical attention, as it can be life-threatening if not treated, notes Wang.
Sports For People With Exercise
There’s no reason to stop playing sports or working out because you have EIA. As well as keeping you fit, exercise can strengthen the breathing muscles in the chest and help your lungs work better. Doctors no longer tell people with asthma to avoid exercising and, in fact, often recommend it as part of asthma treatment.
Some sports and activities are less likely to cause problems, though. These include:
- an easy walk, jog, or hike
- shorter track and field events
Some sports are more challenging for people with exercise-induced asthma, such as:
- long-distance running, cycling, or other endurance sports
- soccer, basketball, and other sports that demand a lot of energy
- cold-weather sports like cross-country skiing or ice hockey
You probably still can do even the most challenging sports if you truly enjoy them. It just takes careful management, the right medicine, and proper training.
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How Do I Know If My Child Really Does Have Asthma
A doctor’s work-up will start with a medical history including symptoms and family history. A physical exam will also be done. Pulmonary function testing with spirometry can provide information about lung function and severity of the asthma. A chest X-ray may be ordered to help visualize the lungs. Allergy testing can be done to determine if allergies play a role in symptoms. Additional tests may be done to investigate other causes of symptoms.
Can Asthma Go Away On Its Own
Asthma is a lung condition that causes breathing difficulties. It affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood, although it can also develop for the first time in adults. Asthma is a long-term condition for many people, particularly if it first develops when you’re an adult. In children, it sometimes goes away or improves during the teenage years, but can come back later in life. The symptoms can usually be controlled with treatment. Most people will have normal, active lives, although some with more severe asthma may have restricted physical activity and other problems.
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If A Child No Longer Has Asthma Symptoms Can You Assume The Asthma Is Gone Too
Kids may become asymptomatic, but the âchronic stuffâ in their lungs probably doesnât go away, says Derek K. Johnson, a pediatric allergist in Fairfax, Va. Only a biopsy of lung tissue would offer certainty about the state of a personâs airways.
âTo follow changes , you need to look at it on a microscopic level. Itâs not something we do routinely,â says Johnson, the former director of the division of allergy and clinical immunology at Temple University Childrenâs Medical Center in Philadelphia.
How To Treat Exercise
If left untreated, exercise-induced bronchoconstriction can pose serious health risks. And it can seriously mess with your workout, too: EIB might also impact how fast or how long you can run. So getting it treated is important.
There are medications and lifestyle changes that can treat exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. On the meds side, a short-acting inhaler can help smooth the muscle cells of the airways, allowing the airways to open and dilate, explains Wang. You take it five to 15 minutes before exercise and the medication helps for a few hours.
If the problems persist or the inhaler doesnt help? Docs can also prescribe a daily, longer-acting inhaler with steroids, which prevent inflammation and swelling or a daily asthma pill, Wang says.
But lifestyle changes are also important, too. Adjusting your running environment based off of triggers can help sidestep flare-ups. If its cold, wear a face mask or cover your mouth and nose with a scarf to warm the air, Wang suggests. Breathe through your nose, tooits better at filtering the air than your mouth is. And if its simply too cold, take your run indoors.
Have pollen allergies? Check the pollen count, and know that dry, windy days tend to be worse than rainy ones. Pollution from big cities and cars can also irritate your breathing, so, when possible seek a more natural environment.
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What Is The Prognosis Of Exercise
Most people with exercise-induced asthma are able to control their condition if they work together with a health-care professional and follow their treatment regimen carefully.
People who do not seek medical care or do not follow an appropriate treatment plan are likely to experience worsening of their asthma and deterioration in their ability to function normally.
Is There Any Way Of Altering The Course Of Asthma In Young Children
âItâs not really the case that intervention changes the course of asthma. But medicines have gotten so safe that we can pretty much neutralize symptoms indefinitely in the majority of people with asthma,â Johnson says. Uncontrolled asthma leads to emergency room visits, absenteeism from school, and missed opportunities for social and athletic interchange, he says.
Rachelefsky adds, âThe goal of asthma treatment is control of the disease to allow someone to have a normal life, knowing that it may not prevent the natural history of the disease. People should concentrate on the right diagnosis and treatment.â
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How Do I Manage Exercise
There is no cure for asthma triggered by exercising or sports. Treatment focuses on preventing and relieving symptoms.
To avoid an episode, you should warm up for at least six minutes before starting exercise. Ask your provider to recommend the best warmup routine for your age and fitness level.
Your provider may recommend one medication or a combination of several medications. Some drugs open your airways while youre experiencing exercise-induced asthma. Other medications prevent an episode. These medications include:
Will Asthma Symptoms Return After Remission
One characteristic of asthma is inflammation, which changes the way your lungs function. Even if your asthma improves, its important to remain vigilant againstyour triggers.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, colds and allergies are the most common triggers especially in children.
Its possible to experience improved asthma for a long period of time, and then for your symptoms to return during allergy season or if you get sick.
Other possible asthma triggers are:
- cigarette smoke
Theres also a greater chance that your symptoms will return if you have:
- a personal or family history of asthma
Smoking or living with someone who does can also increase your risk of developing returning asthma symptoms.
You may not be able to entirely prevent your asthma symptoms from returning, but managing and treating your condition can help reduce their recurrence. Avoiding your triggers is one way you can help prevent asthma flare-ups.
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Your Strategy For Staying Active With Eib
View this video from Dr. Alappatt on how medication can help you do the things you love.
Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.
Is it safe to exercise with asthma?
We dont want people to stop exercising if they have asthma, because exercise is so important and can improve your lung function.”
What Is An Asthma Attack
An asthma attack is a condition in which the lining of the airways swells. The muscles around the airways tighten and make the airways narrower. All of these changes in the lungs block the adequate flow of air, making it hard to breathe. Asthma “attack” or episode is a time of increased asthma symptoms. The symptoms can be mild or severe. Anyone can have a severe attack, even those with mild asthma. The attack can start suddenly or slowly. Sometimes, a mild attack may seem to go away but will come back a few hours later, and the second attack will be much worse than the first. Severe asthma symptoms need medical care immediately.
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