Monday, April 23, 2012
When I was first diagnosed with exercise induced asthma I was shocked. It had started like a joke, with a bad flu and coughing fits every evening. Then I realized I get coughing fits after about 20 minutes of running. First I was in deep denial, after all I wasn’t wheezing, and then am I not a bit old for getting exercise induced asthma? I have exercised most of my life and about 10 years ago I was exercising a lot more than now…… After all that’s the time I was doing most of my halfmarathons and the full marathon. Well I guess this is a practical lesson in what I had learned in Nursing school: Asthma can occur at any age, even though it is less likely once you are beyond a certain age (forgot what is was).
When I started exercising again in January, having recovered from the cataract surgeries and having come to terms with the fact I have to deal with exercised asthma now, I was really nervous. Will I manage? Will I be able to control it enough to continue long-distance running? Will I be able to do half-marathons again? Will I have to carry the inhaler on every run. I opted to start training on the treadmill, even though I usually prefer outside. I thought it was saver this way, then I could stop any time and get the inhaler or take a break. I know myself, if I get into problems during an outside run, I would probably try and push to get home……
This strategy worked well for me and slowly I was able to increase the time I ran on the treadmill, now I do 30 minutes regularly and on weekends I either do 45-60 minutes on the treadmill or if the weather is good run outside. The first outside run I was also really nervous, since I live on a hill, runs are always downhill first and back home is uphill all the way. I psyched myself that it is ok to walk and chose a 10km route, where I can do a shortcut if I have to and also feel comfortable walking. I ran about 2/3 of the stretch and mainly walked in the different uphill parts and was so proud that I finished without a wheeze and only coughed a little bit. Since then I have done several outside runs and even managed one last week without taking the inhaler before. Actually I forgot and realized when I had gone 4km already, then I decided to just continue and if I start coughing or wheezing I will walk. The run went well and I did 12km in a reasonable time, without pushing it.
When I was first put on treatment for this exercise induced asthma I started out with daily tablets, a preventor inhaler (Foracort) twice daily and the emergency inhaler (Salbotamol = Ventolin). I was instructed to use the emergency inhaler before exercise and carry it along. So far I have done well and never had to use the emergency inhaler during a run. I sometimes do not use it when going to the gym (though it is in my bag), if I know I will only do about 30 minutes of cardio. Now my Doctor stopped the tablets as well and I am doing fine.
Funny enough I also have not had any problems when swimming. I only go a couple of times a month, since I don’t have enough time and the pool I use is far. But I was worried, that the cold water would trigger an attack. I have never even felt any discomfort in my chest!
Lesson learned: Exercise filled life is possible with exercise induced asthma!