You Blew That Big Competition
Off your game and dont know why? EIB could be making you winded and affecting your athletic performance. The good news is, you can still play your favorite sports. Even Olympic athletes can compete with exercise-induced asthma. It doesnt have to ruin your life and your exercise, Dr. Ogden says, but until you get treatment, it can absolutely limit what you do and change your game. Read how this woman keeps exercising despite her exercise-induced asthma.
Do You Always Need To Use An Inhaler When Working Out
In short, no. But if you do feel tightness in your lungs, not just shortness of breath, Dr. Kanarek recommends taking a daily inhaler with a steroid medication to stop the exercise-induced asthma flare-ups.
Using a daily inhaler will prevent scarring of the lungs, improve lung function, and allow for normal activity, he says.
Consult with your doctor about the best plan of action to reduce your wheezing while working out.
If you are concerned about your lung capacity during exercise, Dr. Kanarek suggests you ask your doctor to perform a spirometry to measures your lung function.
Also ask for a nitrous oxide test to evaluate inflammation of your lungs. Both tests will help determine if you might benefit from a daily medication or if you should stick to using a rescue inhaler on a need-be basis.
More Tricks For Preventing The Wheeze
Try these recommendations to reduce your risk of EIB while exercising:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a scarf or mask during exercise so the air entering your lungs is warmer and more humid.
- Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before the main workout.
- Try to breathe through your nose. Your nose is great at converting air to the best temp and moisture for your lungs.
- In a study of 64 asthmatic children, positive pressure treatment reduced EIB and lung inflammation.
You dont want to mess around when it comes to breathing. Follow your doctors recommended treatment for EIB, but you may find some of these alternative therapies are helpful too.
- Caffeine before exercise may help prevent airway constriction.
Other Tips For Exercising With Asthma
In addition to choosing less strenuous activities, you can also follow these tips to reduce your asthma symptoms:
- Use an inhaler before exercise. Your doctor can prescribe a rescue inhaler as a pre-exercise treatment. These inhaled medications will relax the airways, making it easier to breathe during physical activity.
- Take medication for long-term control. If a pre-exercise inhaler doesnt manage your symptoms, you may be given another medication. This could include oral drugs or additional inhalers that decrease airway inflammation.
- Warm up and cool down. Always warm up before exercise to let your body adjust. When youre done, gradually stop the activity.
- Wear a mask or scarf. Cover your nose and mouth when its cold outside. The dryness of cool air can tighten your airways.
- Limit your exposure to pollen and pollution. If youre allergic to pollen, exercise inside when pollen levels are high. Stay in areas with minimal air pollution.
- Avoid sports with continuous activity. Basketball, soccer, and long-distance running can be hard on the lungs if your asthma is poorly controlled. Avoid sports that are done in the cold, like cross-country skiing and hockey.
Most importantly, take breaks as necessary.
You should also ask your doctor what you should do if you have an asthma attack while exercising. By having a plan in place, you can workout with confidence.
How To Relax The Airways
Dr. Thiruchelvam says the primary goal is to ensure that you dont avoid exercise. Here are some practical things you can do if you have exercise-induced asthma:
Gaining and maintaining good control over exercise-induced asthma often requires teamwork. A primary care sports medicine physician can help you keep your asthma well-controlled, so that exercise is less likely to trigger symptoms.
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How To Not Let Exercise
Everyone knows how it feels to struggle through a workout when your lungs are basically shrieking that you should just stop and go back to bed. But if working out always makes your lungs feel like youre in the ninth circle of hell, you might actually have exercise-induced asthma. Heres how you can spot the symptoms, plus expert-approved tips on managing exercise-induced asthma even if youre a workout fiend.
Asthma happens when the airways in your lungs narrow and produce excess mucus to the point where you experience issues like coughing, a whistling sound when you breathe , chest tightness and pain, and shortness of breath, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . Some people only experience this domino effect while theyre working out, which is when exercise-induced asthma enters the picture.
Experts actually often refer to exercise-induced asthma with the more specific name exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. This is to clarify that while strenuous exercise may trigger the airways in your lungs to narrow , its not actually an underlying cause of asthma, according to the Mayo Clinic.
These symptoms can start just a few minutes into a workout session, but like with most illnesses, everyone is different. Ive had patients be well into exercise and then they cant function, Raymond Casciari, M.D., a pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., tells SELF.
Diagnostic Tests For Exercise
- Skin testing. Skin testing, also called scratch testing, exposes your skin to small amounts of allergy-causing substances and can identify environmental allergy triggers, such as pollen, dust mites, pets, and mold, that may be causing or worsening your exercise-induced asthma.
- Pulmonary function tests. Lung function tests are noninvasive and provide information about how well your lungs are working. There are several types of lung function tests, including:
- Spirometry. A spirometry test measures how much air your lungs can hold and how forcefully you can breathe out.
- Lung volume test. A lung volume test measures the volume of air in your lungs and how much air is left in your lungs at the end of a normal breath.
After your first round of lung function testing, your health care provider may give you an inhaled medication called a bronchodilator and ask you to repeat the test. Your health care provider will compare your test results to determine if the medication was effective.
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Who Is At Risk For Exercise
Researchers arent sure exactly what causes exercise-induced asthma, but there is evidence that suggests certain conditions may trigger or increase the risk of exercise-induced asthma, including:
- Cold, dry, or polluted air
- Chemicals used in pools or ice-rink resurfacing
- Respiratory infections
- High pollen counts
What Types Of Medicines Treat Or Prevent Eib
There are three types of medicines to prevent or treat the symptoms of EIB. Your health care provider can help you find the best treatment program for you based on your asthma history and the type of activity.
- Short-acting beta agonist / bronchodilator : This medication can prevent symptoms when taken 10 to 15 minutes before exercise. It will help prevent symptoms for up to four hours. This same medication can also treat and reverse the symptoms of EIB should they occur.
- Long-acting bronchodilator: This needs to be taken 30 to 60 minutes before activity and only once within a 12-hour period. Salmeterol can help prevent EIB symptoms for 10 to 12 hours. This medication is for preventing symptoms. It does not offer any quick relief, so it not for treating symptoms once they begin.
- Mast cell stabilizers: Cromolyn sodium or nedocromil sodium need to be taken 15 to 20 minutes before exercise. These medications may also help to prevent the late phase reaction of EIB that some people experience. These medications are only for preventing EIB because they do not relieve symptoms once they begin. Some individuals use one of these medicines in combination with a short-acting bronchodilator.
If you have frequent symptoms with usual activity or exercise, talk to your doctor. An increase in your long-term control medications may help. Long-term control medicines, such as inhaled steroids, can help EIB.
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History And Physical Examination
Your physical examination will include checking your vital signs, such as your temperature, pulse, and breathing rate. A fever can be an indication of an infection. Rapid breathing or a rapid heart rate can be a sign of a severe infection or an impending asthma attack.
Your doctor will listen to your breathing sounds with a stethoscope, which will help determine whether your congestion is on one side of the lungs or both.
- Generally, with asthma and allergies, congestion affects both lungs.
- Congestion can be limited to one lung or one section of a lung when there is another cause, such as an infection.
Treatment And Management Of Eib
After a diagnosis, your doctor will help you create a plan to prevent asthma symptoms during physical activity. They will also inform you of what to do if you experience an asthma episode during exercise.
Proper management of EIB may include:
- Preventing symptoms by covering your nose and mouth with a scarf when exercising in cold, dry weather
- Taking medication recommended by your doctor before exercising
- Doing a proper warm-up for up to 10 minutes before vigorous activity
- Watching your respiratory status before, during, and after exercise
If your children have EIB, be sure to inform teachers and coaches. Most children can still participate in activities but may need to take medication beforehand.
Consult with your allergist or health provider before starting an exercise program. With proper management, you can still perform well and excel in a variety of sports.
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Itchy Face And Throat
Some people with asthma may also experience an itchy face and throat in addition to the more traditional symptoms of wheezing and coughing.
These itchy sensations arent related to asthma itself but may be instead attributed to allergies. If allergens trigger your asthma symptoms, then you may have a subtype called allergic asthma.
When you have allergic asthma, you may experience more traditional asthma symptoms. along with:
- itchy skin
How Do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Asthma
Your healthcare provider will review your medical history, including information about your parents and siblings. Your provider will also ask you about your symptoms. Your provider will need to know any history of allergies, eczema and other lung diseases.
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Out Of Shape Or Exercise
The shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness or coughing that some athletes experience during physical activity often turns out to be exercise-induced asthma.
An Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center study of Ohio State athletes found that about 40 percent of them had exercise-induced asthma. Most of them didnt know they had it or werent receiving treatment for it.
Studies of Olympic athletes found that between 20 and 50 percent of them had exercise-induced asthma. Many of these athletes also didnt know they had the condition.
The symptoms are easily mistaken for simply being out of shape. Some athletes may even think the symptoms are normal physical responses to exertion.
But exercise-induced asthma, or exercised-induced bronchospasm, is a condition for which treatment exists. Getting properly tested and diagnosed can improve your athletic performance and quality of life.
Whats the difference between asthma and exercise-induced asthma?
The symptoms of both conditions are the same: chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing, fatigue or episodes of coughing.
In asthma sufferers, these symptoms have many triggers, such as allergens, weather or temperature changes, and irritants like smoke, fumes and pollution.
When symptoms are triggered by exercise, its called exercise-induced asthma.
How do I find out if I have exercise-induced asthma?
If you have asthma, this test usually will reveal it.
What treatments exist?
Returning To Sports & Activities
Children can generally continue to participate in all activities, though coaches and athletic trainers should be aware of the diagnosis so that they can double-check that your child has their medications at each practice session and competition. The coaches should know to have your child stop exercise if symptoms occur. You should talk to your childs doctor if symptoms continue despite treatment.
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What Else Can I Do To Help With My Exercise
As well as seeing your doctor, and taking medication as prescribed the following suggestions may help some people with EIB manage their symptoms:
- Warming up before exercise
- Being as fit as possible increasing fitness raises the threshold for EIB, so that moderately strenuous exercise may not cause an attack.
- Exercising in a warm and humid environment
- Avoiding environments with high levels of allergens, pollution, irritant gases or airborne particles.
- Breathing through the nose to help warm and humidify the air
- Using a mask to filter air, although this may be impractical or can make breathing harder
- After strenuous exercise doing cooling down exercise, breathing through the nose and covering the mouth in cold, dry weather
- If you smoke cigarettes, consider speaking to your doctor about quitting.
Can I Prevent Exercise
With planning and preparation, you may be able to avoid an asthma episode. Before physical activity, you should:
- Allow yourself time to warm up: Before starting any physical activity or exercise, warm up for six to 10 minutes. Warmup routines vary depending on your age, health and sport or activity. Talk to your provider about the right one for you.
- Check pollen and air quality: Before going outside to exercise, check the air quality index. If pollution and pollen levels are high, you may want to stay indoors.
- Cover your mouth and nose: Use a mask, scarf or gaiter to protect your airways from cold, dry air.
- Manage asthma symptoms: If you have asthma, work with your provider to get symptoms under control before you start an exercise program. Follow your providers instructions when using inhalers and taking asthma medications.
- Tell coaches and teachers: If your child has asthma, make sure teachers and coaches are aware. Adults should know what symptoms to watch for, what to do if symptoms appear and how to help with medications.
- Watch for symptoms: Monitor yourself for symptoms of sports-induced asthma. Have a plan in place if you notice signs of an EIB episode. Remember that symptoms can appear minutes after you finish exercising.
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Don’t Rely Only On Quick
You can also use pre-exercise drugs as a quick-relief treatment for symptoms. However, you shouldn’t need to use your pre-exercise inhaler more often than your doctor recommends.
Keep a record of how many puffs you use each week, how often you use your pre-exercise inhaler for prevention and how often you use it to treat symptoms. If you use it daily or you frequently use it for symptom relief, your doctor might adjust your long-term control medication.
What Causes Exercise
Rigorous physical activity and cold, dry air can trigger exercise-induced asthma. When youre resting, you usually breathe through your nose. Your nose warms and moisturizes the air you breathe as it travels through your nostrils.
When you exercise, you breathe in through your mouth more often, and the air coming in remains cold and dry. If you have asthma, the bands of muscle around your airways react to the cold, dry air by constricting .
Exercise-induced asthma is worse when:
- Air is cold and dry.
- Pollen counts are high.
- Pollution levels are high, causing poor air quality.
- Youre recovering from a cold or respiratory illness.
- Youve breathed in smoke, chemicals or fumes from paint or cleaning supplies.
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How To Diagnose Eib
An allergist can help determine whether your symptoms are induced by exercise alone or if you are reacting to other irritants or allergens in the air. During the examination, your allergist will ask questions about your history including if any relatives have asthma. Your doctor may have you do a series of tests to measure your breathing and lung function before, during, and after exercise.
Test Of Normal Lung Function
Your doctor will likely administer a spirometry test to assess how well your lungs function when you aren’t exercising. A spirometer measures how much air you inhale, how much you exhale and how quickly you exhale.
Your doctor might have you repeat the test after you take an inhaled medication to open your lungs . Your doctor will compare the results of the two measurements to see whether the bronchodilator improved your airflow. This initial lung function test is important for ruling out underlying chronic asthma as the cause of symptoms.
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How To Lower Your Risk Of Asthma Symptoms When Exercising
If exercise triggers your asthma symptoms, its usually a sign that your asthma is not as well controlled as it could be. You can lower your risk of symptoms when you exercise by:
- Using your preventer inhaler every day as prescribed
- Seeing your GP or asthma nurse to review your asthma.
Get more advice on exercising safely and motivation to stay active.
Using your preventer inhalerevery day
Using your preventer inhaler every day can lower your risk of asthma symptoms triggered by exercise.
Your preventer inhaler works in the background to prevent your airways from getting too inflamed. This means your airways are less likely to react when you exercise.
A good preventer inhaler routine can also lower your risk of symptoms triggered by pollen, pollution, or dust when youre exercising.
Seeing your GP or asthma nurse
Your GP or asthma nurse can support you to manage your asthma well so you can feel confident about exercising.
A few people whose asthma is triggered by exercise may be told to use their reliever inhaler before they start exercising. For some people, this can help stop symptoms from coming on.