We’ve been seeing a quite a lot of exercise induced breathing symptoms with the dry fall weather, the onset of cooler air, and the coinciding fall cross-country and soccer seasons.
You could have exercise asthma if you have coughing, wheezing, or a tight chest when you exercise, or within 5-20 minutes after exercise.
The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology has a lot of great information about exercise induced asthma on its website. The new term for “exercise induced asthma” is exercise induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) as it’s been determined that some people with EIB do not otherwise have asthma, and people with allergies may also have trouble breathing during exercise.
People with EIB are very sensitive to both low temperatures and dry air. Air is usually warmed and humidified by the nose, but during demanding activity people breathe more through their mouths. This allows cold, dry air to reach your lower airways and your lungs without passing through your nose, triggering symptoms.
Wheezing or tightness in your chest can be serious, so let your physician know about your symptoms. Your physician can help you by:
• Getting your health history
• Doing a breathing tests (called spirometry and exhaled nitric oxide)
The first step is to develop a treatment plan with your physician, to help identify triggers. In addition to inhalers to use before activity and at the onset of problems, warm-ups and cool-downs may prevent or lessen EIB symptoms. You may want to limit exercise when you have a viral infection, temperatures are low, or pollen and air pollution levels are high.
The goal of an asthma treatment plan is to keep your symptoms under control so that you can enjoy exercising or sports activities. Some activities, such as swimming, walking, and hiking are less likely to trigger EIB symptoms. Team sports that require short bursts of energy, such as baseball, football and short-term track and field are less likely to cause symptoms than sports that have a lot of ongoing activity such as soccer, basketball, field hockey or long-distance running. With proper diagnosis and treatment, many people with EIB can participate and excel in almost any sport or activity!