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Medical Asthma and exercise

  1. May 22, 2008 #1
    I'm know that PF is not allowed to give medical advice, I do plan to see my doctor next week. Just want to know what you think about this question which is very general anyway.

    I am quite fit and run and exercise regularly but i also have excercise induced asthma. It is very mild and never really bothers me unless i do really hard exercise. My doc said I would grow out of it a few years ago. I have been doing more rigorous trsining recently because i am thinking of trying to join special forces after i finish my degree (in about 5 years)

    I have been trying to train without using my inhaler in an attempt to reduce the effects of my asthma. If i continue to do so for that length of time would my asthma cease/decrease at all?is there anything else that I may be able to incorporate into my routine to get rid of my asthma?

    I ask because if not i definetely wont be able to make it.

    Again just wanted to stress that I wouldn't act upon this information alone and have already organized an appointment with my GP for next week. Just can't wait that long to find out :p


  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2008 #2

    jim mcnamara

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    This is not my area. However, if your physician prescribed a medication, take it as prescribed. It it NOT necessarily true that stopping a medication will make you 'not need it'.
    Nor will it cause asthma to go away.
  4. May 22, 2008 #3


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    Unfortunately, not a lot is really known about the mechanisms for exercise-induced asthma, nor is there really any guarantee that "you'll grow out of it." Some people find it is exacerbated by colder or drier air, so can do more on warm, humid days, but that's not really guaranteed for any particular individual either.

    I don't know of any evidence that inhalers would worsen asthma or lead to symptoms lasting longer than without (usually people are prescribed inhalers because they are getting worse without treatment and require one).

    Unfortunately, you might just have to "wait and see" if the asthma symptoms improve, stay the same, or worsen with time...and continue with medical supervision.

    I hate to say this, but I suspect that even a history of asthma if it goes away might be enough to keep you out of something as demanding as special forces, but I'm not sure. I doubt they'd want to take the risk you'd have a recurrence while training. You should consider a back-up plan (not a bad idea anyway).
  5. May 30, 2008 #4


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    Training without using the inhaler will just mean that you won't get as much oxygen as you need to exercise with maximum effect. Nowadays I use my inhaler (Ventolin) 20-30 minutes before I go running and then I am usually fine (even when I am running for a couple of hours); in my case the asthma starts to affect me within about 15 minutes if I don't use the inhaler before exercise. Note that using the inhaler BEFORE exercise is usually a good idea (although I guess you know this), if I use the inhaler while exercising my heart rate goes up slightly (side effect of the Ventolin) and I have to reduce the pace for a while to get back into the aerobic zone.

    Anyway, as far as I know there is NO evidence that training without medicine will reduce the effects of asthma. Increased fitness certainly helps reduce the symptoms but AFAIK the severity of the asthma is basically governed by genetic factors; for many (including me) the situation improves with age and in some cases it even disappears (usually in the teens) but I don't think there is anything you can really do to treat the underlying cause (which isn't fully understood).

    Also, unfortunately I think it is unlikely that you will be allowed to join special forces, I wasn't even allowed to do my military service which was mandatory in Sweden back then; and that was just basic training. I suspect US special forces have even more stringent requirements. Although I should point out that my asthma can also be triggered by other things (horses, mould etc), maybe things would have been different if it was only exercise induces (although I doubt it).
  6. May 30, 2008 #5
    I would suggest that you keep going by what the doctor says. I know in my case, I have pretty much grown out of my asthma that was caused by exercise, but still, every once in a while, I still need it. But, make sure you go as to what the doc says :smile:
  7. Jan 10, 2009 #6
    My daughter has had severe asthma since she was born, but it wasn't properly diagnosed until she was in second grade, when she tried to start sports.

    Her prescribed inhaler really helped, but she too didn't want to take it all the time, hoping to strengthen her lungs during sports. Unfortunately, she couldn't do that, and would invariably need the inhaler at some critical time early in the game. We could see her coming to the sideline and had it ready. Two puffs and she was good to go for the rest of the game. But the idiot she had for a coach at the time actually suggested that maybe she wasn't "strong" enough for sports. Those comments ruined soccer for her, but she still wanted to do sports.

    We spoke with her doctor who suggested taking her inhaler JUST BEFORE the game for a few weeks (she had started basketball) and get back to her. It worked! She was kicking butt in basketball and never had to stop for a puff. We told her doc, who didn't want her to take the "emergency" inhaler all the time, so she prescribed a "maintenance" inhaler to take every morning (like anyone else might take a daily med or vitamin), and only use the albuterol for emergencies. This did the trick, and she has only used the emergency inhaler maybe 3-4 times in the past 3 years! Her old ones actually expired before running out.

    Now she lives for b-ball, and plays on several teams. We hike a lot too.

    I know that's a lot different from your situation, but it's just a wordy way of suggesting that you talk to your doctor about alternative treatments.

    (ps, my high-school buddy joined the Rangers 20 years ago, even with his asthma. Good luck!)
  8. Jan 10, 2009 #7


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    There are two basic types of inhalers--the "albuterol" kind that helps immediately during an attack, and the "preventive" kind that takes several days to start doing any good and basically helps settle your immune system so that attacks don't start at all. You should be able to take the preventive kind with few ill effects, in my opinion; I use one called Flovent like that. I almost never need albuterol (attack intervention).

    If you are needing albuterol when you suddenly start strong exercise, you should ask your doctor instead to try the preventive kind. Use of a good preventive medication would mean that you'd not need the emergency "albuterol" medication under normal circumstances, at all, even for exercise.

    Of course, check all this out with a doctor.

    One of the best things you can do for asthma is just take care of your health generally; eat healthy (with little alcohol or sugar, especially), sleep plenty, reduce stress.

    I'm not sure that trying for special forces is the direction you need to be trying to go, but if you can tolerate it, whatever.

    Best of luck. Everybody is a little different. Regular exercise is really good for asthma. But you may always have an especially difficult time with, of all things, the common cold. Because a slight tendency towards asthma generally may not slow you down, but when the immune system gets fired up by a cold or flu, you may be at much higher risk for breathing problems than the average person.
  9. Sep 9, 2009 #8

    Exercise is a trigger for the majority. Exercise in cool dry air can cause the attack. That is good for you. People with asthma should be able to participate in almost any sport or exercise. Many top athletes competing at national and international level have asthma. Thanks......:uhh:

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