Hello Fellow Runners:
I'm looking for tips from those of you who suffer from asthma. I'm severely asthmatic and have managed to control it pretty well with my Albuterol inhaler. However, during the Spring and Fall months when there is an increased presence of allergens in the air, it becomes increasingly difficult to run without having to take several puffs of my inhaler. This is considerably annoying and I hate feeling limited by what I can do based on this ailment. I'm planning to talk to my Doctor about other ways to control my asthma, but wanted to reach out to see what some of you are doing, especially if you know of some breathing techniques or all-natural methods/supplements I should look into. I would rather stay away from taking on another asthma medication. I appreciate any help/advice you can offer.
Run with your inhaler with you always. Several of my running friends including my daughter run with Asthma and each person has different triggers. When they have an issue one thing they all have to do is slow down, sometimes a puff on the inhaler will make it where they can hold the same pace. Just be sure to have your inhaler with you if you need it not just to hold the same pace!!!
Thanks BOSNPM, I appreciate the advice.
My asthma is allergy and exercise induced. So, if I keep my allergies under control, that takes care of most of it. I worked with my allergist to figure out the right combination of meds and then they were so bad, I got on shots. I've been on the shots over a year and have been able to reduce my meds to just claritin during the actual allergy season and then the rescue inhaler as needed. He says to do the inhaler 20 minutes before I go off to exercise. But, I don't do it everytime - just when I feel I have trouble breathing that day.
One of the things I read on Dr. Mercola's site is that milk should be avoided by all asthmatics. I'm not really a milk drinker, but can really tell when I have a starbucks drink (since they make it with mostly milk), that I do have trouble breathing later that day and the next day it seems.
Also, a very old wise pharmacist told me one time when I was having allergies / asthma problems to cut out the dairy and white flour for awhile. I think she knew what she was talking about. I guess that would be a couple things to try to see if it helps you naturally.
Here's a couple links from Dr. Mercola's site:
Hope it helps!
I'm a respiratory therapist and the best advice I can give you is to use a spacer (A.K.A. Optichamber or Aerochamber) with your inhaler each time you use it. This allows the medicine to get into your lungs where it's needed and not on the back of your throat. Also make sure you're using your inhaler properly, I find most people don't do this even tho they've been using one for years. Do 1-2 puffs before you head out if your asthma is exercise induced. Also if you don't already have one get a peak flow meter that way you'll be able to track your peak flows and know if you should be running that day at all. You should also look into seeing an asthma and allergy specialist if you don't already. They can keep you running for many years to come. Best of Luck!
I'm in the same boat as you; I was diagnosed with asthma almost 2 years ago and it really sidelined me. I have 2 tips to pass along that have been lifesavers for me. I checked 2 books out of the library last winter: Runners World Complete Guide to Running and The Complete Book of Running for Women by Claire Kowalchik; I can't remember which book this came from, but it helped me tremendously. Basically, before a run, I walk for maybe 10 minutes or so and then I sprint for 15 seconds and then walk again for a minute. I run another sprint and walk for another minute. And then I start jogging. If my lungs aren't recovering from the sprints, I have a pretty good idea I shouldn't run that day. I'm not going to lie, sprinting usually feels like hell, but once I'm over it, the rest of my run goes SO much easier. I started running again this spring after taking a long time off so I was pretty out of shape on top of the asthma. To build up my endurance and get my body used to running again, I would run for 3 minutes, walk for 2, run 3, walk 2 and just repeat that for maybe 20 minutes or so. If that gets easy, switch to run 4 and walk 1. I used to do that when I started running again after knee surgery a few years ago. I figured if it helped rehab a knee, why wouldn't it help rehab lungs? Good luck!
My son had a sever reaction to the HFA inhalers and have been using CFC's inhalers but will soon be out of those. I have heard that a better inhaler with a different propellant will be available in the USA in 2012?
Thank you all so much for the helpful suggestions. I'm going to try all of them.
As a runner with asthma, I thought I'd weigh in with my two cents.
This time last year (2010), I was not running at all. During a business trip to California, I had to seek treatment at the emergency room twice, due to asthma, as my rescue inhaler was not providing any relief. For years, I had just used a rescue inhaler when I needed it. One of the hospital doctors suggested that I consult with a pulmonologist when I returned home.
When I returned home (to Texas), I did my homework and made an appointment with an asthma specialist affiliated with a major teaching hospital (Baylor). I'm glad I did. Basically, if you are having to use your rescue inhaler more than two times a week, you aren't receiving adequate treatment for your condition. After several appointments, including identifiying common allergens (my test lit up like a Christmas tree), I was given a prescription for a daily asthma medication (that is actually on the weaker side of prescription treatments). Since then I have NEVER had to use my rescue inhaler. NEVER, not one single time. I have one, but now it's "just in case."
I'm not going to say that my experience will be yours, but what I will recommend is that if you are using your rescue inhaler more than twice a week, that you seek out treatment from a specialist who specializes in asthma treatment. My general practitioner is good, but it really took going to a specialist to getting my treatment right and in short order.
Today I'm back to running about 15 miles a week at about a 10 minute/mile pace, which for me, is really great. I feel better and more importantly breathe better. Your rescue inhaler (albuterol) should just be for rescue situations, not for ongoing treatment.
Tejas, thank you so much for the suggestion. I do use my inhaler more than twice a week and it's the only treatment I use right now. Great advice. Thank you.
My response is going to be somewhat redundant with some of the others, but for someone dealing with asthma, I think it bears repeating. I was diagnosed with asthma at 6 years old and have continued to find more and better ways to deal with in for the past 35 years. My suggestions would be:
1. Understand your triggers and avoid them religiously. For me, airborne triggers are specific grass and weed pollens. This website http://www.zyrtec.com/allergy-tools/Allergy-forecast-tool provides a pollen count and specific pollens in the air by zip code. By paying attention to what is in the air on days that I have a hard time, I have been able to identify the sources, and sometimes just make a decision to not go out to run. Food triggers for me include high-fat dairy products, chocolate, melon, and a number of other things. While testing can help point in the right direction, trial and error over time is the only sure fire way to identify what your triggers really are. Also realize that once the "process" starts, things that are otherwise mild triggers can become much more major ones.
2. Find the right medication. For me Singulair has been the key--for others it will be something different. Come Fall, when my airborne triggers are prevalent, inhaled steroids supplement to control the asthma. Finally, my doc has agreed that a preemptive puff of the Albuterol inhaler before a run is a very good idea, again especially during the Fall, for me. Again, a little experimentation is the best way to arrive at your unique solution.
3. Warm up. If I try to go from "0 to 60", my asthma will flare up 8 times out of 10. However, if I start slow, I can push my heart rate/breathing to the max within 15 or 20 minutes with no ill effects. It is all about avoiding triggering that inflamation response. On a related note, temps below freezing will keep me from running outside as well. I simply haven't found a way to get "warm" enough to overcome inhaling the cold air.
4. Manage your weight. This may sound crazy, but if I put on 5 or 7 pounds, my asthma flares up much more easily. Don't really have any scientific backing for this, but again after years of paying attention, I have little doubt that, at least for me, this is a factor.
By learning to understand your body's particular responses and cues, I believe you can manage an asthma issue to a great degree and maximize your training.
I have had allergy and exercise induced asthma for as long as I can remember, but I have also been active my entire life and just finished my first half marathon in May. I also find that my asthma gets worse during the spring and fall months (most likely due to allergies). I always take my inhaler before runs and try to keep one with me. During those harder months I tend to have a harder problem clearing my lungs, and while it is a drug and is expensive, Asthmanex has worked great. You could also try some allergy medications such as Zyrtec or Claritin, but I have always found the Asthmanex to be much more effective in those problem months. Good luck, and never let it stop you from doing anything.
has your doctor ever recommended Advair ? i have been dealing with my asthma for 25 years and never was able to control it until i started using Advair 2x daily. Also when I started running 2.5 years ago i was still having trouble with flare ups i would use albuteral befor my run and somtimes 2 - 3 times durting my run now after a couple of years i rarely use the albuteral at all just advair twice daily. I also feel that the running itself has helped i could be wrong but i have not had to see my doctor due to asthma problems for over 2 years
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