As can be seen from the statistics, the number of asthma sufferers in the world is steadily growing. Asthma is a chronic (long-lasting) disease of the lungs that causes inflammation and narrowing of the lumen of the respiratory tract. According to statistics from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, in 2009, 1 out of 12 people in the US suffered from asthma (about 8% of the population), and in 2001 this figure was significantly lower – 1 out of 14 people (7%).
The numbers in the European Union are similar: about 10% of the population suffers from this disease. The main manifestations of asthma are recurring episodes of dyspnea (difficulty breathing out), a feeling of constriction in the chest, increased breathing, and coughing (often at night or early in the morning).
Asthma – only ordinary people?
In 1998, a group of Finnish scientists published the results of a study on the incidence of asthma in athletes from various groups, including long-distance runners, swimmers, and ordinary people. Scientists have found asthma in 23% of athletes, most often this disease was found in swimmers and athletes. In another study, asthma was diagnosed in 78% of elite skiers. Among the factors predisposing to the development of asthma, the most important was the presence of allergies: 58% of the “allergy sufferers” had asthma, and among non-allergic athletes only 37% suffered from this disease.
Cold weather and dry air are powerful factors that cause asthma symptoms.
The authors of the article hypothesize that a high respiration rate during exercise, as well as environmental factors: cold, polluted air, its poor quality, dust (in the rooms) – all this can cause the development of asthma. We should not forget that runners, as a rule, breathe through their mouths, which means they turn off nasal breathing. Air passing through the nose, in addition to moisturizing and warming, is purified. Swimmers can also endanger themselves by ingesting chemicals on the surface of the water in the pools. Allergens present in large quantities in the air, especially in spring and autumn, can also contribute to an increase in the number of asthma diseases.
Do I need to quit jogging for those with asthma?
How to be to those who have already developed this terrible disease? Remember that the condition may worsen at any time, especially in cold air, with a large number of allergens in the air. It is necessary to plan workouts in advance, paying attention to the proximity of roads, trying to avoid running at peak times, when the number of cars, and consequently, the pollution of the surrounding air is at its maximum. Remember, if you are allergic, running early in the morning and in the evenings may be more likely to cause a seizure due to high levels of allergens in the air.
If you plan to practice indoors, for example, because of bad weather or a busy schedule, remember that the air quality in the fitness clubs can also affect the symptoms of the disease. Do not engage in the stuffy, poorly ventilated halls.
Cold weather and dry air are powerful factors that cause asthma symptoms. While running and breathing with your mouth, you deprive the air of humidification and warming, as well as the effect of the primary filtration (all this happens when breathing through the nose). In order to improve the situation a little, you can close your mouth with a bandana or a buff , although this can sometimes make your mouth breathing difficult due to wetting equipment.
Some good news
Running can alleviate asthma symptoms and “improve” the course of the disease. How?
- Improving the work of the lungs while running.
- Strengthening the immune system.
- Weight loss, which reduces the risk of developing or worsening asthma.
- Excretion of “hormones of joy” during the run.Studies show that stress or depression increases the risk of developing asthma.
Since you decided to run …
If you are a runner who likes speed work, here’s the good news: recovery between fast intervals is ideal for preventing asthma attacks caused by exercise. During recovery, not only your legs, but also your lungs get rest, especially if you focus on slow, deep breathing and running at a low pulse. Sharp accelerations serve as a kind of trigger mechanism, causing small spasms and contractions of small respiratory muscles, thus preventing the likelihood of serious spasms during a long run.
It is necessary to plan workouts in advance, paying attention to the proximity of roads, trying to avoid running during peak hours, when the number of cars and, consequently, air pollution is at its maximum.
Of course, a long and fast run can worsen asthma symptoms – try to increase the distance covered during training gradually, focusing on a metered and cautious increase in pace.
To summarize: is there a run for asthma?
- Always carry your inhaler (the one you use) with you.If asthma aggravation has occurred in training – stop, use an inhaler, wait for relief of symptoms.Keep goingtraininghighlycarefully tonotto allowrepetitionsan attack .
- If it is cold outside, try to cover your mouth with a buff , this will warm the inhaled air.
- If the street is a significant disadvantage, it is better to think about training in the room.
- If you have allergies, avoid training when the number of allergens in the air is at its maximum.
- Try to avoid exercising in the air during the maximum activity of allergens known to you, avoid busy highways, try to reduce training time.
- If you are planning to participate in the competition, indicate on the back of the number that you suffer from asthma or allergic reactions.
Of course, the presence of bronchial asthma does not mean that you can not do jogging or other sports endurance.It is necessary to remember the simple rules, carefully follow the doctor’s instructions and plan training in advance.
Treatment bronchospasm caused by exercise
Exercise is important for maintaining health throughout life. This applies to people with asthma, as well as to those who do not have it. However, many people who practice intensive aerobic exercise develop bronchospasm caused by physical exertion (exercise -induced bronchospasm , EIB), a condition that also occurs in the sports elite.
As a separate symptom, EIB does not imply a diagnosis of asthma, although it is a common symptom of asthma. EIB is a temporary narrowing of the airway lumen after exercise and is currently considered a separate form of airway hyperreactivity.
It is believed that the mechanism of the onset of EIB is associated with the loss of water and heat in the upper respiratory tract with increased respiratory activity. Inhalation of chlorine from the pool, allergens and pollution from the air can likewise cause bronchoconstriction.
An EIB diagnosis with or without concomitant asthma is made based on the presence of typical symptoms and documentation of the frequency of restriction of airflow during breathing. Spirometry or measurement of daily peak flow confirms the diagnosis of bronchial asthma.
Additional confirmation can be obtained by fixing a significant increase in pulmonary function through the forced expiratory volume after taking bronchodilators , or a corresponding decrease in lung function after a provocative test with methacholine . The Olympic Committee recommends the use of the EVH test for the diagnosis of bronchospasm . 
Recommended treatment of asthma with EIB is detailed in the Global recommendations. Initiative for Asthma (GINA). For patients with EIB, but without asthma, non-pharmacological recommendations include using a mask when in cold conditions — for example, using a mask while skiing.
Low-intensity warm-up before exercise can limit EIB in more than half the time. Affected individuals should avoid activities in conditions that are characterized by an abundance of allergens, pollutants and other such trigger factors.
Tests of pharmacotherapy for EIB are few and inactive.
For mild EIB, rapid-acting beta-adrenergic bronchodilators can be used either as an aid for the occurrence of bronchospasm , or 5-10 minutes before the onset of exercise to prevent EIB (preferably).
However, if rapid-acting bronchodilators are required more often than twice a week, it is recommended to start taking a low but regular dose of inhaled corticosteroids. An alternative may be a leukotriene modifier or, if necessary, both a steroid and a leukotriene modifier . Other drugs such as antihistamines, immunotherapy, and omega-3 fatty acids have not proven to be effective in treating EIB.
Point of view
In the past few decades, the importance of regular exercise to maintain health has been recognized and encouraged everywhere. Aerobic exercise is an important component. However, physical exertion causes bronchospasm in a significant part of the population. The problem is even more serious in athletes – 70% of them are estimated to have EIB. Although athletes often underestimate or deny this fact, or still simply do not know about the presence of the EIB symptom in themselves.
To allow anyone with an EIB (especially high-level athletes) to play sports and participate in competitions, the EIB must be recognized and treated. In addition, there is evidence that untreated EIB may have negative long-term effects.
Doctors point out the likelihood that during periods of intense physical exertion, prolonged inflammation of the airways can lead to airway remodeling , immunosuppression, increased susceptibility to infections and the development of bronchial asthma. EIB can almost always be well controlled.
Competition athletes must comply with anti-doping rules, they can be found here . However, organizational committees should be aware of the specific limitations.
In short, the only approved drugs are inhaled beta2-agonists albuterol , formoterol and salmeterol . Inhalation anticholinergic drugs, inhaled glucocorticoids (but not oral), leukotriene antagonists , cromolin , nedocromil , and omalizumab are allowed . All other drugs are prohibited. Other restrictions may apply (eg, dosages).