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Exercise can help you cope with asthma

By Ester Marsh
For the Salisbury Post
Q: What are the warning signs for asthma? And can my child continue to exercise with asthma?
A: My son Andrew, who is 11 years old, suffers from asthma. As most of you know he is also a National ranked Track and Field Athlete running the 800M, 1500M, and 3000M. So far, it has been controllable and I know in Andrew’s case he was diagnosed quite young and that he would/ could probably still outgrow it. We barely use the inhaler and running really has helped his asthma. He is taking a daily asthma medication and at the track meets he uses his inhaler before his runs to prevent an asthma attack while running at top speed.
Let’s go over some warning signs.
Early warning signs can be:
* Breathing changes, sneezing, moodiness, headache, runny/stuffy nose, coughing, chin or throat itches, vomiting, feeling tired, dark circles under eyes, trouble sleeping, and poor tolerance for exercise.
Asthma symptoms that an episode is occurring can be:
* Wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest.
Severe asthma symptoms can be:
* severe coughing, wheezing shortness of breath or tightness in the chest, difficulty talking or concentrating, walking causes shortness of breath, breathing may be shallow and fast or slower than usual, hunched shoulders, nasal flaring, neck area and below ribs moves inward with breathing, gray or bluish tint to skin, beginning around mouth.
Now we know what to look for, what can trigger an asthma attack?
One could be allergens. Allergens are the medical term for inhaled substances that cause an allergic reaction such as pollen, dust, mold, animal dander. Sometimes you need repeated exposure over a long period of time before you ever have any symptoms. Another trigger could be irritants. They are substances that do not cause an allergic reaction, but do irritate the airways causing asthma symptoms. Examples of irritants are smoke, chemical fumes, strong odors from paint or cooking, and air pollution.
But how about the following? Emotional stress, cold air, medicines such as aspirin or beta-blockers, sulfites in food or wine can also trigger an asthma attack.
If you think that you, or your child suffers from asthma, your first step is to go to your doctor and let him/her diagnose you or your child. Your doctor will give you the necessary treatment and or medicine if you are suffering from asthma.
Working as a personal trainer I have come in contact with asthma patients numerous times. One of my clients was so severe that she was hospitalized at least once a month. After she continued her exercise program ( I as her trainer being in close contact with her doctor) her asthma attacks starting to be a lot less severe and were further apart.
Before you exercise, or start exercising, talk to your doctor. Exercise could also be a trigger for an asthma attack! Your doctor will inform you about the do’s and don’ts. With the proper medication, and a doctors prescription you CAN exercise with asthma. Actually, due to the fact that Andrew is a very active boy his oxygen level was a lot better than expected. I believe awareness ( What could trigger an asthma attack), and the better shape you’re in, the better you are prepared to deal with asthma.
With a proper diagnoses of your doctor, the right medication, and the understanding of what triggers your (or your child’s/ spouse) asthma attack. The sky is the limit!
Good luck
Ester H Marsh, ACSM Cpt

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