Is Running Good For Asthma: 7 Safety Tips For Runners
It is very inconvenient and frustrating for athletes when they find that they are suffering from breathing problems which may or may not be asthma.
In many cases, athletes or runners think that they have asthma, but in many cases, it is not the actual problem.
So, before you take any further step in treating your asthma symptoms after running it is important for you to get knowledgeable about your problem, get diagnosed properly and find out whether you have asthma or not.
Here in this article, we will be talking about how running can affect your asthma problems and what runners can do to overcome it if they are suffering from asthma .
In This Article …
How Is Eia Diagnosed
To decide if you have EIA, a doctor will probably start by asking about your medical history. The doctor will also examine you. You might run on a treadmill for 6 to 8 minutes, run outside, or do the activity that caused your symptoms. Then, the doctor will look at how you’re breathing.
Some people with EIA think they’re having breathing trouble because they’re not in shape. But someone who’s winded from being out of shape will start breathing normally again soon after exercise stops. Someone with EIA may take up to an hour to recover.
How To Prevent/overcome Exercise
Although EIB is a common problem for most of the asthmatics, asthma attacks during and after exercises can be well prevented and treated by proper management of your condition.
Taking proper steps to prevent the symptoms naturally is usually recommended for patients. These include:
- Use asthma inhalers or bronchodilators before exercising
- Take your medicines before exercising
- Avoid exercising when you are sick
- Avoid exercising in cold dry air, use a scarf or a mask to cover your nose and mouth if you exercise
- Warm-up your body for 10-15 minutes before strenuous exercising or physical activities. Do not forget to cool down your body after exercising
Getting the help of best inhaler for exercise induced asthma is one of the sure-shot ways to deal with your problem. You can even carry many of these compact-sized inhalers in your pocket wherever you go.
Besides the above preventive measures, take care that you restrict your exercise on high pollen days. Also, avoid the exercises when the temperature is very low or there is heavy pollution outside.
As these conditions can make your asthma symptoms worse it is best to remain indoors and perform some good indoor exercises like aerobics, dancing, etc.
Remember that, asthma should not be an excuse for you to avoid your daily exercises.
With a bit of care, proper management and plan of action you can treat your condition â to get the benefits of exercising daily without triggering your asthma symptoms.
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Why Do Elite Athletes Develop Asthma
The prevalence of EIA is higher among elite athletes than in the general population , with a reported prevalence of up to 22.8% in summer sports and even higher in winter sports. Such variability may depend on a lack of uniformity in the study methods . However, those undertaking endurance sports seem to be at particular risk. Studies performed in US Olympic athletes show an increasing trend of the disease with 9.7% in 1976, 16.7% in 1996 , and 21.9% both at Nagano Winter Games and at the Sydney 2000 Games being reported. Between 4.2 and 7.7% of Olympic Athletes had a confirmed diagnosis of asthma with a positive bronchodilator or a bronchoprovocation test in 2006, 2008, and 2010 Olympic Games . In certain groups of athletes, such as swimmers and skiers, prevalence is even higher compared to the athlete population in general.
In addition to the type of sport with focus on endurance training, environmental factors are also of importance. This includes cold air for cross-country skiers and organic chlorine products for swimmers . The exposure to the environmental agents is further increased for these athletes due to their heavily increased ventilation during their daily repeated training and competitions .
Running Strong With Exercise Induced Asthma
I have suffered from Exercise Induced Asthma ever since I started running, especially once I started racing and training at a higher intensity level. I didnt realize at first what was happening. At the end of a race I would feel dizzy, nauseous, and weak, and take up to an hour to feel better. I chalked it up to my hard effort and really didnt worry too much about it. But, as these things do, it got worse. Heres a little timeline of my history with Exercise Induced Asthma.
May 1996: I was running a 10k in Yucca Valley. It was shortly after Alan and I had met, and he was going to pace me to a PR. He did that, but I dont remember the last 2/10 of a mile because I was so seriously oxygen deprived that I passed out at the finish line. While I never coughed or wheezed, I was not getting enough oxygen to fuel my muscles, and it took me over two hours to fully recover. For a while I couldnt even lift my arms up. On a happier note, I did finish second overall and first in my age group.
Later that same week while on an easy run, I had my first incidence of a full blown asthma attack. I coughed, I wheezed, I cried which made it even worse. Because my mother had suffered from asthma all her life, I figured out what was going on, made a doctors appointment and got my first inhaler.
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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.
Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
Care coordination between primary care providers, pulmonologists, ENT, sports medicine practitioners, and coaches is required to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment of Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Sports coaches play an important role in identifying athletes who are experiencing symptoms during the practice or who express a desire to quit the sport due to poor fitness, as it can be a sign of EIB. The education of coaches is important to ensure adherence to face protection from cold, dry air, exposure to pollutants, particulate matter, and allergens during practice. Coaches can also work with school administration to ensure practice locations and pool chemicals are safe for practice. Primary care sports medicine practitioners may be the first contact for athletes with symptoms. Proper testing for diagnosis is required as clinical symptoms are not sensitive or specific, and some patients are asymptomatic. Differential diagnosis includes the entire airway, and each part may contribute to symptoms requiring referral to an otolaryngologist. Coordination with pulmonology for testing may be required. Pulmonology may already be involved in asthma management in hard to control patients. Communication and coordination will lead to an optimal diagnosis, treatment, treatment adherence, and control of bronchoconstriction, allowing patients to participate in an activity as they desire.
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Sports With Short Bursts Of Activity
The following sports are appropriate for people with asthma. These activities involve intermittent breaks, which are gentler on the lungs.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell if your symptoms are caused by asthma or just being out of shape. In both cases, the usual symptoms include:
- shortness of breath
- sore throat
- upset stomach
Typically, these symptoms start after 5 to 20 minutes of working out. They might continue for 10 to 15 minutes after you stop exercising.
Its common to have these symptoms if youre out of shape. If you have EIB or asthma, the symptoms will be significantly more severe and will likely include coughing and wheezing.
Another sign of EIB is excess mucus production. This occurs due to airway inflammation and usually wont happen because of poor fitness condition.
Tips For Running With Asthma
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Ruling Out Other Possibilities
You may be tested again after using a bronchodilator like an albuterol inhaler. If the inhaler doesnt improve symptoms, you might have exercise-induced vocal cord dysfunction instead of EIB. Vocal cord dysfunction symptoms will also stop as soon as exercise is stopped.
Bronchial hyperresponsiveness can also mimic EIB when the airways overreact to inhaling allergens or airborne irritants, causing cough and phlegm production.
There are a number of prescription medications that can help control exercise-induced asthma. Heres your cheat sheet for medication options.
How Can I Deal With Exercise
When it comes to EIA, staying one step ahead of your symptoms is a good strategy. Ask your doctor what you should do before exercising or playing sports.
Here are some of the things doctors suggest for people who have EIA:
- Warm up carefully before any exercise to prevent chest tightening.
- If you do pretreatment, take your;medicine as close to the start of exercise as possible.
- Breathe through your nose during exercise.
- Take brief rests during exercise and use quick-relief medicine as prescribed if symptoms start.
- Cool down after exercise.
- Avoid exercising outside during really cold weather. But if you have to, wear a scarf around your nose and mouth or a ski mask.
- If pollen or pollution trigger your asthma, exercise indoors on days when the air quality is bad or the pollen count is high.
- Don’t exercise when you have a cold or the flu.
- Don’t exercise if you’re having asthma symptoms.
Taking medicine exactly as your doctor prescribes is the most important tip of all. Skipping long-term control medicine, if it’s prescribed for you, can make symptoms worse. Forgetting to take medicine before exercise can lead to severe flare-ups and even ER visits.
Finally, always keep your inhaler with you when exercising. You may feel shy about your asthma, but don’t hide it from coaches or teammates they can help you. Coaches especially should know about your asthma so they will understand if you need to take a break and use your medicine.
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Pay Attention To Your Body
While its easy to zone out while running, its important to stay in tune with your body.
Make sure that youre familiar with the normal signs of exercising, such as:
- flushed skin
- feeling warm
You should also know the symptoms of an asthma attack, which arent normal during exercise. They may include:
- breathing that doesnt slow down
Exercise To Improve Exercise
Suggested doseresponse relationship between physical activity and asthma risk.
Therefore, it is apparent that aerobic, moderate-intensity exercise training can be beneficial for allergic inflammation: these data open a new door on the possibility for exercise therapy for asthmatics, in which exercise, in general a potential trigger for EIA/EIB, is instead a comprehensive part of the prevention and therapy strategies for asthmatics. However, on the other hand it has been shown that physical training programs in asthmatics improve cardiovascular fitness, but do not improve baseline lung function or bronchial hyperresponsiveness .
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Eia And Eib: Pathophysiological Background
Pathogenic mechanisms of EIA/EIB probably differ in the athlete compared to children, adolescent, or adult with asthma .
Exercise is a quantifiable and reproducible stressor that can be modified experimentally and can be considered as a model of stress . It has an effect on the endocrine activity and the nervous and the immune systems, thereby activating several complex interacting mechanisms within the psycho-neuro-immune-endocrine pathways .
Classical mechanisms behind EIA and EIB include the so-called osmolar and vascular hypothesis. Both hypotheses are based on the marked increased ventilation during physical activity, leading to increased water and heat loss through respiration. Increased water loss increases the osmolality of the extracellular fluid lining the bronchial mucosa, causing water to move extracellularly possible through the water channels, aquaporins, and bronchial epithelial cells to shrink, with an increase of intracellular ion concentration and release of inflammatory mediators from mast cells, eosinophils, neutrophils, and other inflammatory cells including newly formed eicosanoids . The epithelium may serve as a key regulator of the balance of eicosanoids in the airways by activating the release of bronchoconstrictive eicosanoids in inflammatory cells in close contact and by alterations that reduce the synthesis of the protective PGE2 .
What Is Exercise Induced Asthma
If you cough, wheeze or feel out of breath during or after exercise, it may be more than exertion that is the cause. If you feel tingling in your extremities, dizziness, or like you are breathing through a straw, you may be experiencing Exercise Induced Asthma. Even if youve never had any breathing issues in the past, EIA may be causing you to slow down, drop out, and begin to wonder if exercise is all its cracked up to be.
Having Exercise Induced Asthma does not mean that you should stop exercising. On the contrary, exercise helps to strengthen your entire cardio pulmonary system, and proper treatment of the condition can help keep you active, whether you are an elite level swimmer, an age group runner, or a weekend warrior.
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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.
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.
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Follow An Asthma Action Plan
You can also talk to your doctor about an action plan that helps you recognize the early signs of an impending asthma attack and signals that may help guide when you take a run, and when you don’t.
These plans are divided into three sections: green , yellow , and red . Information on symptoms to look out for and what to do about them in each situation is included.
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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