Asthma is a chronic disease affecting the lungs, predominantly the breathing tubes called bronchi, leading to wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and breathlessness. Asthma can develop at any time from a young age (paediatric) to the geriatric age group. Symptoms are mainly because of the triggers like dust, pollution, fur, smoke, viral infections and exercise.
The relationship between asthma and exercise is two-way. In some people, exercise can trigger asthma, and on the other hand, in the majority of asthmatic patients exercise benefits by keeping it under control and improving the respiratory muscle strength. On this World Asthma Day, Dr Gopi Krishna Yedlapati, Senior Consultant Interventional Pulmonologist, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, explains how to manage asthma with exercises.
Dr Yedlapati said, “Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA) is triggered by physical activity or sports leading to bronchoconstriction, causing significant symptoms like coughing, wheezing and breathlessness, and sometimes fainting at the site of exercise.” He said, “These symptoms can occur during or after exercise and even after rest. EIA is common among athletes, football players, and hockey players. Symptoms are worse when they are exposed to cool and dry air or when exposed to high levels of pollution and pollen.”
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“Symptoms can appear in a few minutes after exercise and may last for a few hours after exercise. Sometimes EIA can return even after 12 hours of completion of exercise called Late Phase Symptoms (LPS). Exercises and sports requiring endurance that are performed in colder climates are more likely to cause asthma symptoms,” he added.
How To Manage Exercise-Induced Asthma
Dr Yedlapati said, “To manage EIA, it is advised to plan activities with short sprints with rest, and less rigorous activities like golfing, biking, walking, and indoor sports. While doing activities in a warm and humid environment like swimming and diving, some people can have detrimental effects because of chlorine in the pool.” “You can use a saltwater pool, which is a better option and avoiding triggers like smoke, dust, and strong smells, along with using the masks will help in the prevention and triggering of the symptoms,” he added.
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He said that diagnosis is done by evaluating the history of the patient and by spirometry pre and post-exercise evaluation. The treatment to alleviate the symptoms involves alternative exercise regimes and the usage of an inhaler pre-exercise.
Regular exercise like aerobic exercises and strength exercises at least five days a week for 45 minutes a day can be beneficial in asthma management. This will make patients able to withstand an attack of asthma. Weight loss training also helps in reducing the risks, symptom control, and also preventing asthma attacks.
Dr Yedlapati mentioned, “Planning for advanced therapies like bronchial thermoplasty or biological treatment with monoclonal antibodies offers near-total control of asthma for longer periods.”
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