Preventing and Treating Exercise-Induced AsthmaThursday, September 30, 2010 Mary Anne Velasco
For anyone who loves sports or physical activity, exercise-induced asthma [EIA] can be a challenging condition to live with. Patients with EIA experience asthma symptoms when they exercise but typically don’t notice symptoms in their regular lives. While EIA can make physical activity difficult, it doesn’t have to deter patients from being physically fit.
Doctors believe the main cause of EIA is the cold, dry air that a person breathes in during exercise. Exercisers tend to breathe quick, shallow breaths through the mouth while engaging in physical activity, so the air that reaches the lungs misses the warming, humidifying effect of breathing long breaths through the nose. The colder air causes inflammation or sensitivity in the lungs, so the airways typically spasm and contract.
Symptoms of EIA include tightness or pain in the chest, shortness of breath, or wheezing. Patients with EIA tire easily, feel winded after they start exercising, and need to take breaks while being active. Patients who are not physically fit may also experience these symptoms; they should check with their doctor to see whether they are experiencing EIA or whether they simply need to exercise more.
People with EIA should avoid exercising in cold, dry areas, but if they have to, they should consider wearing a scarf or other warm clothing around the mouth, neck, and chest area. They should also be sure to undergo a proper warm-up before strenuous exercise rather than just jumping into it. For those with more serious EIA, a doctor might prescribe a preventative medication to take before exercising to keep the airways from narrowing during exercise. And, if preventative medication isn’t enough, the doctor may administer a controller medication that’s taken regularly throughout the exercise period.
Asthma sufferers should aim to monitor their oxygen levels while exercising to prevent an attack. They can do so with a pulse oximeter [http://www.concordhealthsupply.com/], which measures their blood oxygen saturation.