Exercise Induced Asthma, Or Just Out Of Shape? How To Tell The Difference

Here's a little test. Don't worry because I'm not going to grade it!
  1. I eat out at fast food restaurants more than 3 times a week.
  2. I like to watch for my favorite sports team instead of playing the sport.
  3. I spend more than two hours a day on the computer or video games.
If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, then more than likely, you will suffer from just being out of shape more than suffering from exercise-induced asthma. That's it in a nutshell. Exercise-induced asthma (EIA) is a condition characterized by obstruction of the airway that occurs during or after exercise. EIA can affect people of any age and at any level of exercise and is often misdiagnosed for those who have already been diagnosed with asthma. Asthma is a breathing condition you can contract from:
  • Cold air
  • Emotional stress
  • Exercise
  • Infections of the lining of the breathing passages
  • Irritants in asthma inhalers
  • Laughing
  • Some drugs
  • Tobacco smoke

Asthma vs. Being out of shape: How can one tell what causes their asthma?

Many people with asthma have bouts of wheezing and breathlessness when they exercise strenuously and this is known as exercise-induced asthma or exercise-induced bronchospasm. Exercise-induced asthma isn't a distinct type of asthma, but rather it's likely to occur in anyone who has the airway reactivity that underlies asthma. The airways are reactive if they tend to narrow under certain circumstances, such as after exposure to an allergen or while if you are suffering from a cold. Exercise-induced asthma generally reaches its peak about 5-10 minutes after cessation of activity and usually clears up in another 20-40 minutes.

What are the symptoms of exercise-induced asthma?

Symptoms of Exercise-Induced Asthma include:
  • A sore throat
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Chest pain during or after exercise
  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing
  • Cramps
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach pain
  • Wheezing
Exercise-induced asthma is common in patients with chronic asthma, but it is also seen in those who do not have other forms of asthma. In athletes, these symptoms may be misinterpreted as a prolonged recovery time or being "out of shape." Who's at risk for getting exercise-induced asthma? Children are more likely to suffer from exercise-induced asthma more than adults because they play harder and more frequently than adults. Exercise-induced symptoms are often a sign that a child has asthma. For anyone, physical activity is a common cause of airway constriction, or asthma attacks.

What kinds of exercises can trigger exercise-induced asthma?

Aerobic exercise, such as running or playing basketball, hockey or soccer, is more likely to trigger asthma symptoms than is weightlifting, golfing or moderate-paced walking. Swimming is aerobic, but because humidity is higher near water, so your airways are more likely to stay open, not causing asthma-like symptoms to occur. What are you waiting for? Start enjoying your life again, but without gasping for breath!

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