Off and on during the summer I talked about shortness of breath while running. The difficulty with the Gulf Coast Half, The Heights Half and Little Miami Half. The worst pain ever with the horrible side stitch. I kept attributing it all to the heat and high humidity. Wrong! During my long run on Sun I noticed my breathing was shallow and labored earlier than usual. It quickly got worse to the point of struggling to breathe and my throat feeling like it was closing. Until now it had never been so bad that I even considered asthma. I was so focused on the pain from the side stitch (symptom) that I missed the cause.
On Tuesday I went to the doctor. After a few tests ruling out other causes and the doctor commenting that I was “incredibly fit” (LOVED hearing that!) I was diagnosed with Exercise Induced Asthma. Followed by a lengthy conversation about how dangerous it is. The good news? With proper treatment there is no reason I can’t continue to run and live an active lifestyle!
Yesterday, with a little hesitation, I ran for the first time since Sunday. The not breathing thing kind of freaked me out and it wasn’t an experience I want to repeat. As prescribed, I took 2 puffs of an Albuterol Inhaler before exercising. At first I, of course, over focused on my breathing and kept waiting for the struggle. Mile 2, fine. Mile 3 increased my pace and breathing easy. Ran mile 4 a little faster and breathing was even and deeper than it had been in months. Finished the 5 mile run strong! I hadn’t realized how bad it was until this run. My breathing never became strained or shallow and there was no weight or tightness in my chest! I swear that morning the stars were brighter, the night was clearer (we were running at 5:00 a.m.) and the air was fresher. I felt better than I have in months and I loved running again.
In case you’re interested…
Symptoms (my symptoms in bold):
- shortness of breath
- chest tightness or pain
- fatigue during exercise
- poor athletic performance
Signs of an asthma attack that needs emergency treatment include (Mayo Clinic) :
- shortness of breath or wheezing that is quickly getting worse
- no improvement even after using a rescue inhaler, such as an albuterol inhaler
- shortness of breath that continues even after you’ve recovered from your workout
Factors that can trigger or worsen exercise-induced asthma include:
- cold air
- dry air
- high humidity
- air pollution such as smoke or smog
- high pollen counts
- having a respiratory infection such as a cold
- chemicals, such as chlorine in swimming pools
Although you can’t prevent the development of exercise-induced asthma, you can take steps to prevent worsening symptoms:
- Warm up for about 10 minutes before strenuous exercise.
- Do your best to avoid colds and other respiratory infections. Don’t do strenuous exercise when you have a cold.
- Avoid allergens when exercising if they worsen your symptoms.
- Learn to breathe through your nose to warm air before it goes into your lungs.
- Keep your mouth and nose covered during exercise in cold weather.
- Don’t avoid exercise because you have asthma. Staying in good shape can ease asthma symptoms in the long run.
There was a period of time this summer when running became so difficult. I was discouraged and seriously considered quitting. Quit running? What was I thinking?!?
Instead of quitting I want to run more! I have big plans for the rest of 2012!
Funny story: The doctor told me the inhaler lasts about 6 hours. I asked her what if I’m running longer than 6 hours (ultra in Nov!)? She looked at me as if she was going to laugh. She thought I was joking. When she realized I was serious the look on her face was priceless!
Have you ever been so frustrated that you considered giving up?