In Some Cases, Asthma Symptoms May Only Be Present During and After Exercise
Early-morning joggers are often seen chugging down the street effortlessly, while puffs of breath, which have been condensed by the cool air, leave a trail behind.
But for many asthmatics, exercising in the cold is much more challenging - all too often it is a struggle.
Exercise in general, and particularly in cold weather, is known to trigger coughing, shortness of breath or wheezing in a majority of people with asthma. This phenomenon is known as exercise-induced asthma or exercise-induced bronchospasm. More than five minutes of jogging along a cold street would leave many asthmatic athletes huffing, puffing, and out of breath.
In this phenomenon, exercise causes the tiny muscles surrounding bronchioles to twitch, thus restricting air flow. The problem is made worse by cold, dry air. A warm, humid environment, such as a heated swimming pool may be less aggravating to asthma symptoms. The moist air surrounding swimming pools, and the slow rhythmical breathing used in swimming are excellent for bronchial tubes, which makes this the sport of choice for many people with asthma.
However, for those who can't get to a heated swimming pool, there is hope. A protective mask or scarf may be worn about the mouth to keep the inhaled air warm and moist. Medication before exercise may also be needed to keep asthma at bay. Allergists frequently prescribe a preventative medicine, generally in an inhaler form, to be taken before exercise, and repeated as needed. Oral medication may also be required to relieve symptoms when the inhalers are not totally effective.
When asthma is a result of exercise, simply resting, generally no more than 15 minutes, may allow symptoms time to disappear. This rapid relief cannot always be depended upon, so asthma patients should consult their doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.
Exercise is an essential part of a healthy routine for everybody, including people with asthma. Instead of advising asthma patients against overworking themselves, today's physician views exercise as an essential component in helping those with asthma strengthen their bodies and minds.
Asthma may cause some people to alter their exercise regimens, especially during the cold winter months. However, after getting the necessary guidance from their physicians, few people with asthma will find they must abandon exercise altogether.