Exercise Asthma

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“Exercise asthma” or as it is more commonly called “exercised induced asthma” can trigger an attack in 80 to 90 percent of people with asthma.  In fact, even amateur and professional athletes have particularly high rates of exercised-induced asthma, with studies finding that between 11 and 50 percent are affected.

However make no mistake: exercise-induced asthma, also called exercise induced bronchospasm, is asthma. It’s not a type of asthma, an “asthma-like” condition or a separate disease. It is almost always diagnosed shortly after a person has had an asthma attack or spasm of the bronchial airways, usually with the symptoms starting 5 to 15 minutes after beginning or ending physical exertion. The main cause isn’t really known, but researchers suspect it’s related to the loss of heat, water or both from the lungs during exercise. This occurs because of the common tendency to breath through the mouth when exercising, so cooler air is taken in verses warmer air which passes through the nose (which warms and moistens it).

Some asthmatics may go months before learning they may have exercise-induced asthma. This is because the breathlessness and wheezing they experience after exercising may be the only symptoms of their exercise-induced asthma leading them think that they may only get out of breath easily. That could be why one study found unrecognized exercise-induced asthma in as many as 29 percent of athletes studied.

Exercise Asthma Warning Signs

When you exercise, watch out for shortness of breath or wheezing, decreased exercise endurance, chest pain or tightness, upset stomach or a sore throat. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising immediately and allow your breathing and heart-rate to return to normal. Usually the “attack” should only last only a few minutes, but it can be as scary as any other asthma attack, often leading otherwise healthy people to avoid exercise altogether.

The only way to know for sure if your symptoms are related to asthma is to see an asthma and allergy specialist, who should conduct an “exercise challenge” test to confirm a diagnosis. This test usually involves evaluating your lung function before and after you’ve run on a treadmill or exercise bicycle.

Go to Exercise Asthma Prevention for related prevention tips.

Related posts: Asthma and Allergies.

About the author: Stan K. Hall a.k.a. The Sick House Doctor is a recognized specialist in Indoor Air Pollution as well as Health & Safety in the home. He has performed over 400 indoor environmental evaluations over the past 26 years and has helped hundreds of homeowners make their homes a haven. He is widely known as the originator of T.E.A.M., the scientifically proven approach to controlling and resolving indoor air pollution.

Exercise induced asthma

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Asthma Triggers List

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asthma-triggersAllergies and asthma don’t always go hand in hand, but most people who have asthma also have allergies. Those allergies can trigger breath-stealing asthma attacks.

Things like pollen, mold, and animal dander can set off an allergic reaction in some people that results in hives, itching, sneezing, and wheezing. When this reaction occurs in the chest, it’s called asthma. In the lungs, allergic reactions cause spasms and thick, sticky mucus. When an asthmatic has an attack, his lungs feel clogged and twitchy, and his chest feels tight.

Though not all people with asthma have allergies, those who do should identify their allergic triggers and avoid them.

Some of the more common asthma triggers to avoid:

  • Foods like chocolate, nuts, shellfish, and eggs.
  • Beverages like orange juice, beer, wine, and milk.
  • Mold spores and pollen. When pollen counts are high, try to stay indoors as much as possible.
  • Dander from pets such as cats, dogs, hamsters, and rabbits. If you can’t bear to part with your family pet, try to keep it outside and bathe it often.
  • Feather pillows, down comforters, and wool clothing. Use smooth blankets on your bed.
  • Dust. Damp dust and damp mop instead of using brooms that raise dust. Use washable fabrics for curtains and rugs.
  • Cleaning products like bleach and furniture polish.
  • Use a HEPA vacuum and HEPA air purifiers to control indoor airborne allergen particles.

Avoiding your triggers may help you avoid the chest-squeezing experience of an asthma attack!

Source: Allergy and Asthma, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Milwaukee (1995)

Asthma Triggers