You eat right, exercise daily, maybe you even like committing your body and discipline to the challenging “two-a-day.” No challenge is too small when it comes to pushing your body to do incredible things, but what happens when our bodies have other plans?
What Is Exercise-Induced Asthma?
An exercise-induced asthma attack is when the airways in your lungs narrow, usually triggered by strenuous exercise or activity. You may have even heard of this term before, but the preferred name for this condition is exercise-induced bronchoconstriction because it most accurately describes what is happening when it occurs. “Broncho” refers to the bronchi that run through your lungs and “constriction” describes how they narrow when the attack happens. So, if you hear a doctor say “bronchoconstriction” it may sound scary, but it is treatable.
Although its symptoms are similar to asthma symptoms, they are not the cause of asthma. However, there is no need to panic, especially now that you just picked up that gym membership: most people with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction can stay active by treating the symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms?
While the causes of exercise-induced asthma may not be clear, there are some working theories based on patterns uncovered by recent studies. For example, many patients have a history of inflammation that produces excess mucus after hard exercise. Although the root causes of the condition are not obvious yet, the symptoms are impactful enough that you should not have trouble identifying them when they settle in.
Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma can begin during exercise or after you wrap up your workout, and can last for an hour or longer if untreated. Catching your breath during a workout is one thing; it is these other symptoms you will want to stay aware of:
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing
- Chest tightness or pain
- Fatigue during exercise
- A significant drop in previous athletic performance
- Avoiding activity because of the above-mentioned symptoms
These symptoms are not biased toward age and can effect children, adults, and the elderly. Know the signs to take care of yourself, or those you love, so you can get back to breaking that sweat! Make sure that when you do, you are paying attention to your environment as well. Exercise-induced asthma can be triggered by cold or dry air, chlorine in swimming pools, air pollution, and even chemicals from cleaning equipment.
Treating Exercise-Induced Asthma?
A doctor will conduct tests to assess your lung function. This testing can also rule out any other conditions that could be causing your symptoms. This usually involves a spirometry test to measure how much you inhale and exhale. You may also be given an exercise challenge, such as running on a treadmill with incremental speed checkpoints, to see if symptoms can be triggered by intense exercise.
Once you are diagnosed, treatment is in sight! Your doctor might prescribe a pre-exercise medication to open airways before hitting the gym. A long-term medication may follow when pre-exercise treatment is not effective or if underlying chronic asthma must be addressed. If you use your pre-exercise inhaler more than recommended, you should schedule a follow up appointment for additional diagnosis and treatment. So, pay attention to your breath along with those reps!
If you have exercise induced asthma or think you are exhibiting any symptoms, call the team at the BASS Medical Group. Our doctors have experience treating all types of asthma symptoms and can recommend the best treatment for you. Call (925) 350-4044 or visit bassmedicalgroup.com to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors today.