By Jane Peters
Do you end up with wheezing, choughs or other asthma symptoms
after physical exertion? If so, you may be suffering from
exercise induced asthma.
In some people, asthma is triggered exclusively by exercise and
not by allergens like pollen. How does exercise bring on this
Researchers point out to a number of contributing factors.
One reason is that the person may have greater than normal
sensitivity to changes in temperature. It could also be that
during exercise, breathing often becomes rapid and shallow,
which may end up bringing more allergens into contact with lung
A third factor is that when breathing rapidly, air that reaches
the lungs doesn't have a chance to warm up sufficiently. When we
breathe normally through our noses, the air that reaches the
lungs warms up during the passage.
However, during exercise, the body has increased oxygen
requirements. To meet it, we tend to breathe through the mouth.
This doesn't allow the air to warm up before it gets to the
Cool, dry air reaching the lungs can irritate the bronchial
tubes and the trachea lining. When that happens, the body
releases histamines which result in inflammation.
What can you do to reduce the risk of having an exercise
induced asthma attack?
One of the best things to do is to use the bronchodilator
inhaler prescribed by your doctor. Use it a quarter of an hour
before exercising. This action by itself will significantly
reduce the chances of an asthma attack.
Bronchodilators work by relaxing the muscles around the
bronchial tubes. This cuts the chances of asthma being induced
by changes in breathing patterns.
Warm up before starting on heavy exercise. This is anyway a
good idea for a number of reasons not related to asthma. When
you warm up, the body can better adjust to changes in breathing
patterns. This reduces chances of asthma attacks. Also, ensure
that you cool down after intensive exercise.
Since cold air is a major factor in triggering asthma, avoid
exercising outdoors in cold weather. At the very least, use a
face mask that covers your nose and mouth. Using a mask will
trap warm, moist air near the nose and mouth so that the cold
air can't get directly into your lungs and trigger an attack.
Likewise, avoid outdoor exercise during pollen season. Rapid
breathing during exercise can pump a lot of allergens into your
lungs thus increasing your chances of coming down with an asthma
Exercise induced asthma is no reason to avoid exercising,
provided you take your doctor's advice and follow some simple,
sensible ground rules.
About the Author: Jane Peters is a researcher who has written
on several topics. Visit
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