Asthma is the most common chronic illness presented worldwide affecting children and adults. 8 out of 10 people with asthma don’t exercise because they are afraid of asthmatic attack.
Asthma occurs primarily due to constriction of the airway passage because of chronic inflammation triggers by a wide range of stimuli. This causes state of hyper-responsiveness of the airways. But the airways obstruction is reversible.
What are the symptoms of asthma?
- chest tightness
- shortness of breath which are often worse at night.
Asthma can be manage primarily:
- proper use of drugs treatment (the inhaled route is preferred because of fewer -effects)
- education to affected individual and family
- avoidance of precipitant
- monitoring with peak flow meter
It is also important that proper education to the individual and family regarding the nature and course of the illness, preventive measures and avoidance of triggers, usage of drugs and compliance with treatment.
Distinguishing between preventer and reliever medication is vital. Preventer is to prevent future asthmatic attack. This is usually prescribed by doctor for uncontrolled condition. Reliever (usually blue) is to relieve an asthmatic attack and always carried by asthmatic individual.
One of the main goals is to let the person with asthma to maintain a healthy lifestyle through physical activity and exercise. In order to achieve this, proper monitoring and good control is inevitable.
If asthmatic control is not good but you wish to participate in exercise, you need to consult with a doctor. A little change in the management plan maybe needed to allow you to participate in exercise without problem.
What will exercise do to your body?
- improve your lung capacity, which will helps you to manage your asthma during exercise.
- gain more stamina to do daily activities.
- gives you more confidence in managing your illness and exercising.
What kind of exercise is suitable for asthmatic person?
- Activities that are short and have intermittent level of exertion such as volleyball, archery and gymnastics generally tolerated.
- Activities involving long lasting endurance such as soccer, marathon and basketball are less tolerated.
- Cold weather activities such as ice-skating, cross-country skiing and ice hockey may pose problems.
- Other aerobic activities such as swimming, cycling, jogging, running (indoor and outdoor) are beneficial.
Before you exercise :
- Consult your doctor to make sure your asthmatic control is good. Your doctor will help you choose which types of activities are suitable for you.
- Doctor might refer you to a physiotherapist for some breathing exercise.
- Use your inhaled asthmatic medication 15 to 30 minutes before starting exercise.
- Includes warm up and cool down session every time you exercise.
- Always keep your inhaled medication with you at all times during exercise.
- Avoid outdoor activities if there is pollution.
- Refrain from exercise if you are having cold symptoms.
During exercise :
- If symptoms still persist during exercise, you should see your doctor again and review your asthmatic control.
- Always bring a friend along that knows your condition and also knows how to give the medication to you.
- Stop exercising if symptoms start to develop and use your reliever inhaler immediately. Rest for 5 minutes and continue if the symptoms is gone.
- Exercise according to your fitness level.
- Always remember to bring water to maintain a good hydration.
- Do build up your intensity of exercise gradually if you are not used to do it.
- Wear a loose fitting clothing.
There is also condition known as exercise asthma. These group of people only get asthmatic attack during vigorous or prolonged exercise. This is seen mostly in endurance athlete .
During normal breathing, people breath air through their nose in which the air that enters the airway are warm and humidified. However in exercise i asthma, air enters the airway mostly through the mouth in which the air is cold and dry. These changes in temperature and humidity causes the airway to react by constricting and series of inflammation will occur similar in asthmatic attack.
The symptoms usually happen 5 to 20 minutes after the exercise started or 5 to 10 minutes after brief exercise has stopped.
You should not stop from doing exercise as it can be prevented and controlled. You can use inhaled beta 2 agonist 10 to 15 minutes before starting. In addition, proper warm up and cool down session will be helpful.
Long acting inheled Beta-2 agonist (eg. Salmeterol and formeterol) are useful in physical and sporting activities of longer then 90-120 minutes duration.
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- image from www.hudsonvalleyasthma.org
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