Doing regular exercise is one of the best things that you can do for your body. However, if you suffer from exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), it can be difficult to workout without possibly triggering asthma symptoms including shortness of breath and coughing. According to research, as much as 90% of people who have asthma can experience exercise-induced asthma, during or after a workout.
Symptoms of EIB
This condition happens when the airways tighten or constrict as a result of an inflammation as a response to the physical activity. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, sore throat, and tightness in the chest. Typically, the symptoms will begin within five to 20 minutes after starting a workout. In addition, this can also flare up five to 15 minutes after a workout ends.
Even when it is normal to feel out of breath when exercising, with EIB, these symptoms are typically more severe. If not treated right away, patients may feel like they are no longer able to catch their breath for 30 minutes or longer. There are also certain environments which may trigger a reaction, such as an overly cold or dry air, areas with air pollution, or a high pollen count.
What Causes EIB?
Whenever you exercise, your body will be forced to breathe faster and deeper due to the increased oxygen demands. Typically, you inhale using your mouth causing the air to become dryer and cooler than when you inhale through your nose. Breathing through your mouth may trigger the airway to narrow. This is also the reason why exercising in the cold and dry air can more likely cause asthma symptoms than exercising in a warm and humid environment. Other factors that may trigger a response are:
- high pollen counts
- pollution levels
- exposure to other irritants, like smoke and fumes
- a recent cold or asthma episode
Management Tips For EIB
People who experienced EIB can still enjoy exercise and an active lifestyle with proper management. Some of the steps that you can do to reduce chances of having breathing difficulties include:
- Take medication before exercising.
- Adopt measures to prevent symptoms, for example, cover your mouth or nose with a scarf when exercising outdoors.
- Practice proper warm-up before a vigorous exercise.
- Watch your respiratory status before, during, and after your exercise.
- If your child suffers from EIB, make sure to let teachers or the school know about it. They can still participate in activities but may need to take medication before every activity.
- Choose sports that may have fewer trigger effects on exercise-induced asthma, for example, volleyball and gymnastics
- Avoid sports that are likely to trigger EIB, for instance, those that are performed in cold and dry weather like ice hockey and ice skating.
- Ask your doctor to recommend an effective bronchodilator that you can take before, during, or after your exercise.
Even when you experience exercise-induced asthma, you will still be able to perform your choice of workout. It helps if you ask your doctor about what things you can do to improve your condition. Carefully planning your workout and taking the right medication will also help you become active again.