How I Conquered Exercise Induced Asthma
To say I never exercised as a kid is not telling the whole truth. A more accurate statement would be to say that I rarely exercised when my asthma was acting up. And considering I had brittle asthma as a child, there were many times I was unable to exercise with it. Now I exercise every day, so what changed?
Essentially, I conquered exercise induced asthma (EIA), or what is now referred to as exercise induced bronchospasm (EIB). Here are five reasons I credit for helping me conquer EIB.
1. Brittle asthma. During teenage years airways increase in scope and size with the rest of your body. So my airways are now bigger and less brittle. Now, this does not mean they are less sensitive. It just means when my airways spasm, there is more room than there once was. So now, when I’m exposed to a potential asthma trigger, it doesn’t close off my airways the way it once did.
2. Better medicine. The medicines available today are much better than when I was a kid. For instance, most modern inhaled corticosteroids are stronger and last longer than previous ones. The same is true of bronchodilators. Not only that, combination medicines make it so you can take all your inhalers in one or two puffs once or twice a day.
3. Better compliance. Better medicines have resulted in better compliance. Or, worded another way, the fact that most modern medicines only need to be taken once or twice a day has made it easy to stay compliant with a medicine regime. Basically, I take my medicine when I brush my teeth. Puff and then brush. This is a far easier routine than 8 puffs, 8 times a day of Azmacort, or three time of remembering to take my theophylline pill at 6 a.m., 2 p.m. and 10 p.m.
4. Better wisdom. Back in the 1970s it was known that inhaled corticosteroids worked to control asthma. However, doctors were still concerned about the side effects. So, as I was being discharged from yet another hospital admission for asthma, my doctor would write the following: “Have this boy take his Vancerin inhaler for a week or two until he feels better, then stop it.” You see, one of the reasons I had such poor asthma control was because I wasn’t taking the medicine meant to prevent it. Thankfully, later studies showed that not only do inhaled corticosteroids work, they are very safe.
5. Doctors. Back in the 1980s regional physicians were left to learn about asthma on their own, and were often left with incomplete wisdom. This was why I had to be shipped to Denver in 1985 so that I could learn how to gain control of my asthma. Today, asthma guidelines, and the Internet, make it so regional doctors are kept up to date on the latest asthma wisdom in order to best help asthmatics like me.
Bottom Line. Even as recently as 1997 I was forced to get a medical excuse to get out of a college gym class. Just since that time I have tackled my EIB to the point that I can now exercise whenever I want. This is amazing in that it shows how far asthma wisdom has improved just in my short lifetime.
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John Bottrell is a registered Respiratory Therapist. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).