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  • If Your Asthma Is Triggered By Exercise, Here’s What You Can Do To Manage It

    You don’t have to totally give up exercising.
    by Jocelyn Valle .
If Your Asthma Is Triggered By Exercise, Here’s What You Can Do To Manage It
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  • Editor’s Note: This article is intended for information purposes only. It does not substitute a doctor. It is vital to always consult a medically trained professional for advice that suits your needs best.

    Asthma is a major noncommunicable disease that affects both children and adults globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Though the exact cause or maybe causes of asthma remain unknown, as pointed out by the United States National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), various triggers have already been identified, such as asthma induced by exercise.

    What is asthma?

    Asthma is defined as a "heterogenous, chronic airway inflammatory condition which affects the size and shape of the airways causing breathing difficulties" by Dr. Paul Rilhelm M. Evangelista. He's the specialist in pulmonology medicine and interventional pulmonology, featured in the recent webinar, titled Usapang Asthma, organized by the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP).

    Dr. Evangelista mentions studies showing that chronic inflammation causes the occurence of asthma symptoms, such as:

    • Wheezing
    • Cough
    • Breathlessness
    • Chest tightness

    He explains that this happens when your bronchial tubes or airways become hyper irritable or very sensitive, and they then get inflammed to the point of constriction. He adds that when your airways come in contact with triggers, they become easily swollen and inflamed. This inflammation causes narrowed airways and trapped air. 

    Dr. Evangelista points out that a trigger is anything that an asthmatic person encounters that produces an inflammation in the airways. He adds that triggers come in many forms, you just have to find out the specific ones or what he calls your "individualized triggers." Common asthma triggers include:

    • Animal dander
    • House dust mites
    • Inhaled allergens
    • Air pollutants
    • Respiratory tract infection
    • Weather changes
    • Stress and extreme emotion
    • Certain food
    • Exercise

    Asthma induced by exercise

    Exercise is good, says Dr. Evangelista, but not if it triggers your asthma. He explains that it may be caused by the air that you inhale while doing a physical activity, such as sports and most especially running, and it dries up your airways.

    This is also called exercise-induced asthma or excercise-induced bronchospasm, according to experts from the American Lung Association (ALC). They add that you don't have to let asthma hold you back from being active, mentioning that many Olympians and professional athletes have asthma.

    They also advise to have yourself checked if you experience asthma symptoms during or shortly after an exercise routine or any physical activity. This could be because you're just out of shape, have poorly controlled asthma, or you really have exercise-induced asthma.

    Dr. Evangelista agrees that you need to see your doctor, and you don't have to totally quit exercising. He points out that exercise offers a lot of health benefits: strength, endurance, feel-good effect, and relief from stress.

    Ways to manage asthma induced by exercise

    Once you and your doctor have identified exercise as a trigger of your asthma, there are awys you can manage it and continue being active.

    Control your asthma

    Dr. Evangelista suggests you work closely with your doctor in controlling your asthma and avoiding asthma attacks. You have to religiously take your medications, which can be inhaled, injected, or taken orally. There are also two types: relievers at controllers.

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    Dr. Evangelista also suggests to continuously monitor your asthma. You can do this with the help of your doctor in making and following an action plan. You can also keep track of your progress by keeping a journal, where you can jot down your observations.

    He points out that if your asthma is controlled, you may lessen your asthma attack while exercising.

    Use your inhaler before exercising

    Dr. Evangelista suggests for you to use your inhaler-type of reliever medication at least 30 minutes before starting your exercise routine, sports program, or any physical activity. This can control the onset of asthma symptoms, so you can confidently work out or move actively.

    Have a warm up and cool down period

    Experts advise to make it a point not to skip the warm up part before doing the main part, which is physically demanding. Afterwards, you should also make it a point to do the cool down part.

    If you're nursing a cold or not feeling well because of an illness, experts also advise for you to rest instead. This will prevent you from having symptoms of asthma induced by exercise. (Read here for more on asthma.)

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