Mild Exercise Induced Asthma

If your doctor has diagnosed mild exercise induced asthma, there are a number of things you should know to help you manage your condition more efficiently. The most important of these is – is it really mild exercise induced asthma?

Doctors used to believe that exercise induced asthma was a different kind of asthma than the type that causes shortness of breath and nighttime coughing. They supported their beliefs about this with the fact that exercise induced asthma was seldom diagnosed in adults. The reason for that turned out to be far simpler than doctors expected: children get short of breath after exercising more often than adults because children are more likely to engage in physical activity than adults. Not only that, those adults most likely to engage in vigorous physical activity are also most likely to be fit.

So what does all this have to do with a diagnosis of mild exercise induced asthma? Simply this: in at least two studies at the University of Iowa’s pulmonary division, more than half the children and adults who had been told by doctors that they had exercise induced asthma actually had nothing wrong with them at all. They simply believed that they should be able to engage in more physical activity than they could before getting out of breath. For those people, medication had no effect, since lungs can’t be induced to take in more than 100% of their capacity of air.

If, on the other hand, you have asthma, exercise is one of the things that can trigger an asthma attack. More specifically, the increased needs of your body for air during exercise can trigger an asthma attack. On the other hand, doctors have also found that mild exercise is an excellent way to increase your overall health and increase your lung capacity. So what’s the answer?

There are several, according to doctors who specialize in treating asthma. First, choose your exercise wisely. Swimming is a hands-down favorite exercise for people with asthma because the air is not dry or irritating. The stretching and extension associated with swimming may also help keep chest and bronchial muscles looser than other exercises. Some other things you can do to reduce the chances of having an asthma attack when you exercise include:

Do not exercise outdoors when the air is cold and dry. Cold, dry air is an asthma trigger in and of itself. Exercising encourages faster, deeper breathing, which simply gets cold air into your lungs that much faster. If your preferred exercise requires it – say, if you’re a skier – try wearing a face mask when you ski to help trap warm, moist air for you to breathe.

Do not exercise vigorously when pollen counts are high or air quality is low. The same thing applies as applies to cold air. When you exercise, you are breathing harder, faster and taking in more of the irritants than you would if you were more sedate.

Use your inhaler about 15 minutes before exercising. If you’re prone to shortness of breath and asthma attacks when exercising, taking 1-2 puffs from your inhaler about 15 minutes before a workout, game or gym class may relax the bronchial tubes enough to avoid problems.