Asthma Sports and Exercise
One of the more common asthma myths is that someone with asthma cannot or should not exercise or participate in sports. Nothing could be further from the truth. Exercise is or should be a part of daily life. Children, teenagers, and adults with asthma should be able to enjoy any aspect of life they choose, including hiking, biking, basket ball, ballet, soccer, gymnastics, and other physical activities.
Many Olympic athletes who have asthma have won gold medals in a wide variety of sports, from swimming to figure skating to track and field . Every professional sport has at least one present or future hall of fame athlete who has asthma. Across the country, millions of people with asthma, ftom the five-year-old soccer player to the eighty-five-year-old marathon runner, take part in sports without being limited by their disease. They can enjoy, participate, and compete in physical activities as long as they have their asthma under control.
The most common form of asthma is exercise-induced asthma a slightly misleading term because exercise doesn't cause asthma.
Exercise can bring out symptoms because of the increased demands placed on a person's breathing while running, jumping, swimming, skating, skiing, or other forms of physical exertion.
When our bodies are at rest, we inhale and exhale a certain number of times at a certain volume. As we breathe through our nose (the body's "air treatment intake valve"), the air is warmed and humidified before it gets to the lungs. When we exercise, our muscles need more oxygen and produce more carbon dioxide than they do when we're resting or inactive. Since we take in oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide by breathing, we have to increase our air exchange by breathing deeper and faster while we exercise. We also breathe through our mouths instead of our noses so we can move as much air as possible into and out of our lungs. When we breathe this way during exercise, the air in our lungs is cooler and drier than usual.
Researchers who study exercise induced asthma believe that this cooler, drier air stimulates inflammatory cells in our airways. Once stimulated, these cells release chemicals called mediators. Some mediators make the airways swell or produce mucus, while other mediators irritate the muscles that encircle the airways and make them tighten up. As a result, the airways become narrow or constricted. The narrowed airways limit the amount of air that can come in or go out right at the time when the body needs more air, not less. When oxygen delivery decreases and carbon dioxide levels increase, the muscles tire more quickly, and the athlete with uncontrolled asthma has to stop physical exertion.
In most cases, asthma symptoms brought on by exercise occur about five minutes after the exertion begins. Chest tightness is a common first symptom, along with shortness of breath. The athlete is usually forced to slow down or stop, and may bend forward at the waist to help force air out of the lungs. Wheezing and coughing usually follow. The symptoms decrease with rest, but they may come back when exercise is resumed.
Article Tags: Carbon Dioxide
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