Since asthma is essentially inflammation, and we know that chronic inflammation can lead to cancers of the inflamed tissues and assorted other ills, is it advisable, from the perspective of pulmonary health, for someone with exercise-induced asthma to engage in regular, intensive exercise? Obviously not exercising at all has its own risks, but I'm sort of uncomfortable with the idea that I'm inducing inflammation of the lungs on a tri-weekly basis when I do HIIT.
Is there any evidence that exercise-induced asthma, or asthma in general, is something that can be "worked through"? Put another way, can stressing your lungs on a regular basis to the point of asthma activation spur your lung tissues to somehow become desensitized and not so likely to inflame when confronted with a similar level of stress?
I can't answer your question personally, though I know of some folks who have worked through exercise-induced asthma.
I can say that my exercise-induced asthma (and all other asthma symptoms) disappears completely when I keep my Vitamin D level high 80-90 ng/ml. I take 200-400 mg Magnesium as well.
Through trial-and-error I have observed that I have significantly more difficulty breathing during exercise, and a lot of phlegm produced during that exercise, if my diet happens to contain certain foods. Dairy was the biggest troublemaker (I can handle butter but other dairy makes things bad). Bananas and peanuts also made things worse but to a lesser extent than dairy. It took me a very long time to make these connections and then I kept testing them anyway because I wanted to be sure before I eliminated some of my favourite foods! But it's been worth it. Everybody's different, food intolerance may not be your problem but it's just something to consider.
And just fyi, it didn't matter WHEN I exercised relative to consuming dairy - it could be an hour later or a day later, it impacted my breathing during the exercise. I had to be off dairy for several days before I noticed improvements.
From personal experience, I think the lack of oxygen from exercising with exercise-induced asthma (or otherwise) can cause problems. I have heard anecdotes of people overcoming asthma, but I'm skeptical it can be done in general. One of my friends had good luck overcoming childhood asthma with ayurvedic medicine. I've also heard people use hookworms to overcome asthma, but I haven't seen any clinical trials on it.
What I do is take my albuterol before exercising if I can tell I'll need it. I found that when I didn't manage my asthma with albuterol, I just had more and more trouble. You don't want to be on a bikeride away from home and not be able to breath anymore.
I've also found a paleo diet to help, presumably by reducing inflammation in general.
My son, who is now 14, has not had an asthma episode in over 4 years now since we went Paleo. He does not take meds of any kind and he had taken multiple meds since he was 6 months old, he used to be hospitalized every 4-5 months for weeks at a time because his asthma was so bad. Now he is normal and healthy and his doctor is amazed, he still gets checked once a year but as far as his doctor is concerned he is basically 'cured'. He does get lots of Vit D and a few other supplements.
I have exercise and allergy induced asthma. I find, like Sara S., that taking my albuterol right before I exercise is key, because there's no point in going for a run if you're going to crap out half way through and need to walk the asthma away. But I definitely find that doing a lot of exercise helps prevent my allergic asthma (i.e., when I exercise often enough, I don't need to use albuterol except right before exercise, like in the middle of the night the way I usually do in the winter).
I too have EIA & have found that the more I exercise (over the years), the better it becomes. If I'm sick/injured for a prolonged period of time (ie, when i was injured & couldn't run for nearly 2 mos), it came back, but not more severe.
To me it's like I'm exercising my lungs as well, the more i use them, the healthier they become. The less I use them, the harder it is to breathe (during intense exercise). HTH
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