Exercise is great for health and well-being. However, most asthmatics get breathless and wheeze after a moderate exercise. This is especially likely if they run or jog in the open in cold and dry air. This is called exercise induced asthma (EIA). Swimming in an indoor heated pool is least likely to produce asthma. Still, this does not mean that asthma patients should not exercise or play. With adequate precautions it is possible to prevent EIA and even excel in sports. It may come as a surprise to you but many of the Olympic gold medallists have been asthmatics.
Some facts about exercise induced asthma
- Exercise which includes some breaks, such as tennis is less likely to produce exercise induced asthma.
- The severity of exercise induced asthma depends on how long and hard you exercise and how dry and cool the air is.
- You will have fewer attacks if you exercise more gently for shorter periods and in more humid air.
- Jogging, cycling and running for 6 to 8 minutes are exercises most likely to induce exercise induced asthma.
- About 50% of people who get EIA are able to exercise again within 1–2 hours without getting exercise induced asthma.
So, how does one prevent exercise induced asthma?
- A warm-up before exercise may help.
- Take 2 puffs of your reliever inhaler ten minutes before you begin to exercise. This should give you 2–3 hours without symptoms. Some people will need 4 puffs of Cromolyn sodium inhaler before the exercise. A few will need 2 puffs of reliever plus 2–4 puffs of Cromolyn sodium.
- Keep your reliever inhaler handy when exercising. If you have an asthma attack, take 2–4 puffs. Do not exercise any further. Get medical help if the attack does not go away.
- Take your preventer inhaler regularly, the right dose at the right timings. Taking it just before exercise is of no use.
Watch this video to know more about exercise induced asthma: