HOW TO MANAGE EXERCISE-INDUCED ASTHMA


South Africa’s marathon season is in full swing with the upcoming Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon happening in Cape Town and runners - both amateur and professional - are advised to carefully monitor and react to changes in their health, as their bodies become exposed to more strenuous exercise such as endurance running. Especially people who suffer from exercised-induced asthma (EIA), which is usually triggered by intense or lengthy exercise.


This is according to Dr Dhiveja Smith, Medical Executive at Cipla SA, who says that EIA symptoms can be experienced by asthma sufferers when their asthma is poorly controlled, and by non-asthma sufferers during intense exercise. “The symptoms of EIA usually include coughing, tightened feeling in the chest, wheezing, unusual fatigue and shortness of breath while exercising.”

Dr Smith says that it is vital that all long distance runners ensure that they have spoken to a medical doctor should they experience any symptoms of asthma while preparing for the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon or any other marathon in 2017. “If anyone experiences asthmatic symptoms that prevent them from participating fully in physical activities, it is vital to get medical attention to ensure that the condition is controlled and symptoms are prevented during physical activity.”

The symptoms of EIA usually don’t occur right at the beginning of exercise but rather start once the person is a few minutes into their session and can become progressively worse within five to ten minutes of stopping the exercise, she explains. “The symptoms typically resolve within 30 minutes. Some people may even feel a second wave or ‘late-phase’ of symptoms 4 to 12 hours after exercising, but these symptoms are typically less severe, and can take up to 24 hours to settle down.”

Maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle is important and EIA should not discourage people from being active, says Dr Smith. She offers the following tips for people who suffer from EIA:

  • Speak to your medical doctor ahead of intense physical activity, such as a marathon. The doctor will be able to assist in developing a plan of action to manage the symptoms that you might experience during exercise;
  • Warm-up and cool-down exercises are also extremely important before and after the physical exercise;
  • Always exercise at a level that works well for you and is appropriate for your level of fitness;
  • Do not partake in any type of exercise when you have a viral infection or a cold.

“With proper diagnoses and treatment, EIA can be managed and the person can enjoy the benefits of physical exercise without medical issues or suffering symptomatic attacks,” concludes Dr Smith.

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