Should You Avoid Exercise ?

People with asthma should definitely exercise. Enjoyable exercise is even more important for asthma sufferers than for other people.

Often in the past, children with asthma were asked to sit on the sidelines whilst their classmates played games and did sports. This is completely wrong if there is any reasonable way in which the child can be made fit enough to take part.

What is true for children is also true for adults.

Asthma attacks are hard work. One of the dangers in an asthma attack is fatigue, which may make you weaken in your fight to breathe. Strong breathing muscles are important to avoiding fatigue, and the way to get strong breathing muscles is to exercise.

So, far from being prevented from getting exercise, people with asthma should take as much suitable exercise as they can enjoyably manage.

With the right help, advice, training, treatment, and self-discipline the problems can usually be overcome.

Asthma and Types of Exercise

Some types of exercise are worse than others. For example, if you do different types of exercise that you use the same amount of oxygen, then some will cause more wheeziness or chest tightness than others.

Running outdoors is usually worse than swimming. In fact, swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for people with asthma because it usually causes the least amount of chest tightness.

Also, if the air you breathe during exercise is cold and dry, then the asthma will be worse. If it is warm and moist, the asthma will be less bad. This explains why swimming usually causes less asthma than outdoor running.

Increased breathing during exercise causes cooling and drying of the lining of the air passages and this is usually necessary for someone to get exercise-induced asthma. This explains why warm moist air protects against exercise-induced asthma. At this stage it is not understood why the drying and cooling of the airway linings causes the asthma episode.

Some people get worsening of their asthma from the chlorine fumes from swimming baths. This is another factor which can affect the result, and for such people swimming in a chlorinated pool is much worse than running.

Exercise-Induced Asthma

Asthma is a chronic lung condition that is characterized by difficulty in breathing. People with asthma have extra sensitive or hyper-responsive airways. During an asthma attack, the airways become irritated and react by narrowing and constructing, causing increased resistance to airflow, and obstructing the flow of the air passages to and from the lungs.

A few people seem to get asthma attacks only when they run or take other exercise.

In the past, doctors thought this was a different form of asthma. However, it is now known that it is very common for people with asthma to have asthma attacks during exercise.

This “exercise-induced asthma” is especially a problem for young people. In fact doctors used to puzzle over why children got exercise-induced asthma and why adults did not. Eventually research discovered the obvious reason : most adults do exercise as much as children.

Doctors now believe that people who get asthma attacks only when they exercise have asthma which is too mild to show up most of the time, needing the extra provocation from faster breathing to bring it out.

If the air you breathe during exercise is cold and dry, then the asthma will be worse. If it is warm and moist, the asthma will be less bad. This explains why swimming usually causes less asthma than outdoor running.

Asthma: Which Drugs and Medicines Safe For Use In Pregnancy ?

Here is a little about the main medicines used in asthma.

Preventers

o Steroid Inhalers based on Becotide (beclomethasone dipropionate, now a common drug under all sorts of other names too) and Pulmicort (budesonide).
These steroids have been used for decades and on a massive scale, including a vast amount of use by women who were pregnant. There have been no evidence of harmful effects. In fact, in small doses these steroids are thought to offer additional protection to the baby from lack of oxygen.

o Cromoglycate (Intal, Lomudal, Cromolyn etc.) and Nedocromil (Tilade, Tilarin, etc.)
These asthma preventers are not steroids, but their safety record is very good indeed. No harmful effects on unborn babies have been recorded even though they have been in widespread use since 1968. They are still excellent medicines for people in whom they prove sufficient.

o Theophylline (many trade names)
Unlike inhaled drugs, theophylline is taken by mouth, usually as tablets, and, unlike the inhaled steroids, it is not broken down slowly by the liver. Despite widespread use, no harmful effects on unborn children have been described.

Relievers (bronchodilators)

Asthma and Pregnancy

The first question most women on medication ask when they are expecting a baby, is “Will this medicine harm my baby ?”

The good news is that all the common allergy and asthma medicines are known to be very safe during pregnancy. So, pregnant women should be able to enjoy an asthma and allergy free pregnancy.

In fact, asthma control is especially important when for pregnant women.

With newer drugs and medicines there is often no formal information about safety in pregnancy, because women who are or might become pregnant are not allowed to take part in the safety tests during the testing of the drugs or medicines for fear of harming the baby (and facing massive lawsuits as a result). No drug manufacturer wants to take the least risk with unborn babies.

However, older asthma treatment medicines exist, and these have been used for many decades, and long before the thalidomide catastrophe taught us that unborn babies are especially at risk. Many of these older asthma treatments have been used during pregnancy for decades, and are known to be safe in pregnancy.

In the case of newer medicines you should avoid them in pregnancy if possible, just in case. But there is a wide selection of older alternatives that are safe for use during pregnancy.

Asthma Triggers

Asthma is a chronic lung condition that is characterized by difficulty in breathing. People with asthma have extra sensitive or hyper-responsive airways. During an asthma attack, the airways become irritated and react by narrowing and constructing, causing increased resistance to airflow, and obstructing the flow of the air passages to and from the lungs.

What triggers an asthma attack ?

The words “trigger factors”, or “triggers” of asthma are used for the things which can cause an attack in someone who already has asthma.

Many things seem to be able to bring on, or trigger, an asthma attack, and the causes and triggers vary greatly from person to person. Dogs and cats cause asthma attacks in some people. While for others, tobacco smoke, cold air, exercise and even laughing can trigger attacks too. Some people with asthma report that the asthma attacks are worse when they are upset, anxious or under stress. Some people get asthma if they take aspirin or other painkillers, and some get asthma from dusts or fumes at work.

Really bad asthma attacks, which force people to go into hospital, often happen after a virus infection of your nose or chest.

Asthma – Causes

During an asthma attack, the airways become irritated and react by narrowing and constructing, causing increased resistance to airflow, and obstructing the flow of the air passages to and from the lungs.

    But what causes asthma?
    Why do some people develop asthma?
    Why is asthma more common in the western world?

Asthma is not contagious. You cannot catch asthma from another person.

However, you can inherit the asthma tendency from your parents, although people with asthma should not worry about their future children on this score.

Studies show that children whose parents smoke are twice as likely to develop asthma as children of non-smoking parents. Also, children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy tend to be born with smaller airways, which greatly increases their chances of developing the disease.

The “westernised” environment and lifestyle in developed countries has a lot to do with the chances of whether a person will develop asthma or not.

Are overweight people more likely to get asthma, as is often suggested?

Asthma Triggers Vs Causes

When talking about diseases, it is important to distinguish between causes and triggers.

A trigger is something which sets off an attack, but which does not make you asthmatic in the first place.

The “trigger factors”, or “triggers”, of asthma are used to describe the things which can cause an attack in someone who already has asthma.

But you hear these words used for the dog to which you may be allergic, or the cat, or the mould on the wallpaper which causes your asthma, or the pollen that cause your asthma, and even about house dust mites. Instead of calling these things causes, which is what they are, people call them “triggers”. They say that your cat is triggering your asthma.

This is a bit like calling an on-coming car the trigger for an accident.

Demoting causes, by calling them triggers, makes people think they are not so important, and that maybe they should just keep using their inhalers instead of making efforts to root out the cause of their asthma and remove these from their environment.

A cause is something without which an effect (such as asthma) will not happen. That is, a cause is something without which you would not be asthmatic. There may be more than one cause for an asthma attack.